Tuesday, December 12, 2006

From Peter Gay's Freud: A Life for Our Time (Commonplace Book)

Only Felix Deutsch accompanied Freud, and he did not stay through the operation; it was as though by treating the matter as a bagatelle he could wish away Freud's cancer. But something went terribly wrong on the operating table; Freud bled heavily both during and after the procedure and was made to lie down on a cot "in a tiny room in a ward of the hospital since no other room was available." His only company was another patient, whom Anna Freud later described as a "nice, friendly" retarded dwarf.

The dwarf, in fact, may well have saved Freud's life. Martha and Anna Freud had been asked to bring some necessities to the hospital, since Freud might have to spend the night. At lunchtime, no visitors were allowed in the ward, and they were sent home with the assurance that his condition was satisfactory. But when they came back in the early afternoon they discovered that in their absence he had suffered at attack of copious bleeding. He had wrung for help, but the bell was out of order, so Freud, who was unable to make himself heard, was helpless. Fortunately, the dwarf rushed out to get the nurse, and with some difficulty the bleeding was brought under control.
[What knocks me out about this true story is the combination of how much it sounds like a David Lynch episode and how much of Lynch Freud unlocks: for example, Freud would immediately understand the famously unnerving Blue Velvet scene where Kyle MacLachlan hides in the closet and watches Denis Hopper breath Nitrous Oxide from a canister while saying angrily "Don't look at me" and stuffing Isabella Rossillini's mouth with velvet -- it is a child's limited attempt to grasp what he has seen after he walks in on his parents having sex ("why was daddy breathing like that? why was he saying those things? why was mommy's voice muffled?"). I am sure Lynch's famous dwarfs do not come from this story, but it is an interesting idea nevertheless.]

1 comment:

Mitch said...

This is quite awesome. I once saw a terrible play about Freud and Jung, wherein they took turns analyzing each others' dreams. No Dwarfs, though.