The Freud Museum


Uncle Joseph

I. “...My friend R. was my uncle. - I had a great feeling of affection for him".
II. “I saw before me his face, somewhat changed. It was as though it had been drawn out lengthways. A yellow beard that surrounded it stood out specially clearly.”

The analysis showed that my Uncle Joseph represented two colleagues who had not been appointed to professorships - the one as a simpleton, the other as a criminal.... I knew that my waking judgment upon the colleagues who had been so ill-used in the dream-thoughts would have been a very different one; and the force of my wish not to share their fate in the matter of the appointment struck me as insufficient to explain the contradiction between my waking and dreaming estimates of them. If it was indeed true that my craving to be addressed with a different title was as strong as all that, it showed a pathological ambition which I did not recognise in myself and which I believed was alien to me... What then could have been the origin of the ambitiousness which produced the dream in me?

“At that point I recalled an anecdote I had often heard repeated in my childhood. An old peasant-woman had prophesied to my proud mother that with her first-born child she had brought a great man into the world... Could this have been the source of my thirst for grandeur? But that reminded me of another experience, walking with my parents in the Prater when I was a boy of eleven of twelve. A poet had been inspired to declare [in verse] that I should probably grow up to be a Cabinet Minister. I still remember quite well what an impression this second prophecy had made on me. Those were the days of the liberal Bürger Ministry... There had even been some Jews among them. So henceforth every industrious Jewish schoolboy carried a Cabinet Minister’s portfolio in his satchel. The events of that period no doubt had some bearing on the fact that it had been my intention to study Law; it was only at the last moment that I changed my mind...

“In my dream I had put myself in the Minister’s place. Turning the tables on His Excellency with a vengeance! He had refused to appoint me professor extraordinarius and I had retaliated in the dream by stepping into his shoes.”

(text slightly amended)

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