The Freud Museum


Dead Daughter in a Box

"A woman patient dreamt that she saw her only, fifteen year old daughter, lying dead 'in a case'. In the course of the analysis she recalled that at a party the evening before there had been some talk about the English word 'box' and the various ways in which it could be translated into German... She had guessed that the English 'box' was related to the German 'Büchse' and had then been plagued by a recollection that 'Buchse' [receptacle] is used as a vulgar term for the female genitals...

It might be presumed, therefore, that the child lying in the case meant an embryo in the womb. After being enlightened up to this point, she no longer denied that the dream-picture corresponded to a wish of hers. Like so many young married women, she had been far from pleased when she became pregnant; and more than once had allowed herself to wish that the child in her womb might die. Indeed, in a fit of rage after a violent scene with her husband, she had beaten with her fists on her body so as to hit the child inside it. Thus the dead child was in fact the fulfilment of a wish, but of a wish that had been put aside fifteen years earlier."

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