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An unexamined 'post-script' to the demise of Sigmund Freud's Seduction Theory: A spurious reification or prescient second thoughts?

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The beginning of this paper documents Sigmund Freud's pre-psychoanalytic experience as a 'first hand' observer of childhood behavior both professionally and as the patriarch of a large extended family in Vienna. During 1898, Freud was in the midst of an intensive correspondence with Wilhelm Fliess - his most trusted confidant, mentor and colleague - when he wrote, in part, about his sister Marie whose family was relocating in Berlin. She was apparently about to consult Fliess as her prospective physician. During the process, Freud voiced psychological assessments not only about his sister; but, also about her husband and their three daughters. The youngest among them was a 5-year old whom he characterized as "a rather gifted child, severely [hysterical]" (bracketed word in quotation juxtaposed for clarity).

Eleven years later, Freud wrote a case study about a 5-year old boy whose pseudonym, for publication purposes, was Little Hans. The life of Little Hans (as well as the lives of his parents) has been thoroughly examined and we now know something about how he matured as an adult. In a contrasting context, less is known about the 'psychological trajectory' of Freud's 5-year old niece who also distinguished herself in certain respects as she matured during her abbreviated later life. She remained the subject of documentable correspondence mailed to him by his youngest daughter Anna as well as foreboding prospects articulated in a letter he subsequently wrote to an English nephew.
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Keywords: Tom Seidmann-Freud; infant bisexuality; seduction theory

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2003

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