The Freud Museum


Archaeological Metaphor 4

"In the face of the incompleteness of my analytic results, I had no choice but to follow the example of those discoverers whose good fortune it is to bring to the light of day after long burial the priceless though mutilated relics of antiquity. I have restored what is missing, taking the best models known to me from other analyses; but, like a conscientious archaeologist, I have not omitted to mention in each case where the authentic parts end and my constructions begin"
Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria, 1901.

In the case history of 'Dora' - which he describes as a 'fragment' of an analysis - Freud recognizes that he is not just 'revealing what is hidden'. He is also having to 'make things up' himself, and offer these ideas to the patient. The patient can say 'yes' or 'no' to the analyst's ideas, and the analyst has to take these reactions into account.

This implies two things (1) the importance of theory in revealing (or creating?) 'data'; and (2) that the work of remembering and reconstructing the past takes place within a dialogue between the patient and the analyst. It was because of his therapeutic failure in the 'Dora' case that Freud discovered the phenomenon of transference. Freud also used the metaphor of archaeology in his actual work with patients, as in the quotation below.

Exercise: Given Freud's theory of memory in the first quotation in this section, how could Freud distinguish between the 'authentic parts' and his 'constructions' as he claims above? (Answer: I don't know!)

" - I then made some short observations upon the psychological differences between the conscious and the unconscious, and upon the fact that everything conscious was subject to a process of wearing-away, while what was unconscious was relatively unchangeable; and I illustrated my remarks by pointing to the antiques standing about in my room. They were, in fact, I said, only objects found in a tomb, and their burial had been their preservation; the destruction of Pompeii was only beginning now that it had been dug up. - " Notes upon a Case of Obsessional Neurosis, 1909.

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