Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Significant Moments: A Boyhood Friend

A striking feature of Freud's correspondence is the fact that the bulk of it was limited almost exclusively to his professional colleagues. A touching exception is his letters to his friend Eduard Silberstein, a young Romanian from the town of Braila whom he met in his early teens when both were students at the gymnasium in Vienna.
Phyllis Grosskurth, The Secret Ring: Freud's Inner Circle and the Politics of Psychoanalysis.
The friendship between the two was an unusual one.
Hermann Hesse, Beneath the Wheel.
They had spent almost every hour together, taking "secret walks." They learned Spanish, which they made into a secret code, taking names from Cervantes with which to address each other, Silberstein becoming Berganza, Freud Cipion.
Phyllis Grosskurth, The Secret Ring: Freud's Inner Circle and the Politics of Psychoanalysis.
One cannot resist imagining his astonishment had someone suddenly addressed him as Cipion half a century later!
Ernest Jones, The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud.
The character, Cipion, appears in "The Colloquy of the Dogs" (1613), a picaresque tale in which a vagabond mongrel tells his story to a compassionate canine listener. . . . The two, guard dogs at a hospital, had the gift of speech for only a day, and Cipion instructed Berganza to tell his life story first. Cervantes' two characters—the sage commentator and the charming, sometimes maudlin hysteric—interact within strict time limits. Cipion never gets his turn to confess or regale; as in the "talking cure," there is no reciprocity. Cervantes' tale unfolds a charming parody of the human colloquy called psychoanalysis.
E. James Lieberman, Acts of Will.
Silberstein and Freud comprised the entire faculty of the imaginary "Academia Castellana" (also called "Academia Espanola")—"the two sole luminaries of the A.E."—and they addressed each other formally as "Your Honor." Girls were known as "principles," and European cities were given the names of their Spanish counterparts. (Madrid stood for Berlin, Seville for Vienna.)
Phyllis Grosskurth, The Secret Ring: Freud's Inner Circle and the Politics of Psychoanalysis.
Unbeknownst to his friend, he had led a second, very different life of his own, in which his friend played no part.
Hermann Hesse, Tales of Student Life.
In the dark, he sat for a long time in his room.
Hermann Hesse, Beneath the Wheel.
. . . he always had a room of his own, no matter how straightened his parents' circumstances.
Peter Gay, Freud: A Life for Our Time.
Here he was his own master, undisturbed. Here—obstinately, ambitiously—he had battled weariness, sleep and headaches, brooding many hours over Caesar, Xenophon, grammars, dictionaries and mathematics. But he had also experienced those few hours more valuable than all lost boyhood joys, those few rare, dreamlike hours filled with the pride, intoxication and certainty of victory; hours during which he had dreamed himself beyond school and examinations into the elect circle of higher beings. He had been seized by a bold and marvelous premonition that he was really something special, superior to his fat-cheeked, good-natured companions on whom he would one day look down from distant heights.
Hermann Hesse, Beneath the Wheel.
Even as a boy of seventeen, he was looking for a companion 'to whom I could pour out my inmost being to my heart's content, without my caring what the effect might be on him.'
Anthony Storr, Feet of Clay—Saints, Sinners, and Madmen: A Study of Gurus.
Could it be in reality he had had no friend at all, possessed no share in someone else's life? He had had a companion, a listener, a yes-man, a henchman, and no more!
Hermann Hesse, Tales of Student Life.
The intensity with which . . .
Phyllis Grosskurth, The Secret Ring: Freud's Inner Circle and the Politics of Psychoanalysis.
. . . later in life . . .
Charles Darwin, Origin of Species.
. . . he entered into his largely epistolary friendship with Wilhelm Fliess must have been a reflection of his disappointment with reality and his need to seek an idealized friend who existed only as a projection of his own needs. For Freud the ideal friend had to be an extension of himself.
Phyllis Grosskurth, The Secret Ring: Freud's Inner Circle and the Politics of Psychoanalysis.

My psychiatric assessment, prepared in September 1992 by Napoleon Cuenco, MD at the George Washington University Medical Center Department of Psychiatry, states the following about me:

"Though a bit shy and withdrawn, he had a few friends. In fact, from age 9 to age 14 or so, he had one best friend. He felt very attached to this male friend. Reportedly they had a lot of fun and spent a lot of time together. Patient said, however, that he felt that the closeness was perceived by his family in a malicious sort of way. Reportedly, he heard his brother-in-law on several occasions make snide remarks about the friendship and expressed concerns about the homoerotic nature of the relationship. This bothered the patient and made him panic. He then decided to withdraw from his friend and from then on he has not had any sort of involvement outside a few superficial intellectual encounters, mostly with men he admired in school and later at work."

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