Sigismondo Freddo (alias SIGMUND FREUD)

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The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, 2-3

-CHAPTER 2: Forgetting of Foreign Words
-CHAPTER 3: Forgetting of Names and Order of Word



CHAPTER 2: Forgetting of Foreign Words


The ordinary vocabulary of our own language seems to be protected against forgetting within the limits of normal function, but it is quite different with words from a foreign language. The tendency to forget such words extends to all parts of speech. In fact, depending on our own general state and the degree of fatigue, the first manifestation of functional disturbance evinces itself in the irregularity of our control over foreign vocabulary. In a series of cases this forgetting follows the same mechanism as the one revealed in the example Signorelli. As a demonstration of this I shall report a single analysis, characterized, however, by valuable features, concerning the forgetting of a word, not a noun, from a Latin quotation. Before proceeding, allow me to give a full and clear account of this little episode.

Last summer, while journeying on my vacation, I renewed the acquaintance of a young man of academic education, who, as I soon noticed, was conversant with some of my works. In our conversation [p. 18] we drifted -- I no longer remember how -- to the social position of the race to which we both belonged. He, being ambitious, bemoaned the fact that his generation, as he expressed it, was destined to grow crippled, that it was prevented from developing its talents and from gratifying its desires. He concluded his passionately felt speech with the familiar verse from Virgil: Exoriare. . . in which the unhappy Dido leaves her vengeance upon Æneasto posterity. Instead of "concluded," I should have said "wished to conclude," for he could not bring the quotation to an end, and attempted to conceal the open gap in his memory by transposing the words: --

"Exoriar(e) ex nostris ossibus ultor!"

He finally became piqued and said: "Please don't make such a mocking face, as if you were gloating over my embarrassment, but help me. There is something missing in this verse. How does it read in its complete form?"

"With pleasure," I answered, and cited it correctly: --

"Exoriar(e) aliquis nostris ex ossibus ultor!"

"It is too stupid to forget such a word," he said. "By the way, I understand you claim that forgetting is not without its reasons; I should be very curious to find out how I came to forget this indefinite pronoun 'aliquis.'"

[p. 19] I gladly accepted the challenge, as I hoped to get an addition to my collection, and said, "We can easily do this, but I must ask you to tell me frankly and without any criticism everything that occurs to your mind after you focus your attention, without any particular intention, on the forgotten word."[1]

"Very well, the ridiculous idea comes to me to divide the word in the following way: a and liquis."

"What does that mean?"

"I don't know."

"What else does that recall to you?"

"The thought goes on to reliques -- liquidation -- liquidity -- fluid."

"Does that mean anything to you now?"

"No, not by a long shot."

"Just go ahead."

"I now think," he said, laughing sarcastically, "of Simon of Trent, whose relics I saw two years ago in a church in Trent. I think of the old accusation which has been brought against the Jews again, and of the work of Kleinpaul, who sees in these supposed sacrifices reincarnations or revivals, so to speak, of the Saviour."

"This stream of thoughts has some connection [p. 20] with the theme which we discussed before the Latin word escaped you."

"You are right. I now think of an article in an Italian journal which I have recently read. I believe it was entitled: 'What St. Augustine said Concerning Women.' What can you do with this?"

I waited.

"Now I think of something which surely has no connection with the theme."

"Oh, please abstain from all criticism, and -- "

"Oh, I know! I recall a handsome old gentleman whom I met on my journey last week. He was really an original type. He looked like a big bird of prey. His name, if you care to know, is Benedict."

"Well, at least you give a grouping of saints and Church fathers: St. Simon, St. Augustine, and St. Benedict. I believe that there was a Church father named Origines. Three of these, moreover, are Christian names, like Paul in the name Kleinpaul."

"Now I think of St. Januarius and his blood miracle -- I find that the thoughts are running mechanically."

"Just stop a moment; both St. Januarius and St. Augustine have something to do with the calendar. Will you recall to me the blood miracle?"

[p. 21] "Don't you know about it? The blood of St. Januarius is preserved in a phial in a church in Naples, and on a certain holiday a miracle takes place causing it to liquefy. The people think a great deal of this miracle, and become very excited if the liquefying process is retarded, as happened once during the French occupation. The General in command -- or Garibaldi, if I am not mistaken -- then took the priest aside, and with a very significant gesture pointed out to him the soldiers arrayed without, and expressed his hope that the miracle would soon take place. And it actually took place.. . ."

"Well, what else comes to your mind? Why do you hesitate?"

"Something really occurred to me . . . but it is too intimate a matter to impart . . . besides, I see no connection and no necessity for telling it."

"I will take care of the connection. Of course I cannot compel you to reveal what is disagreeable to you, but then you should not have demanded that I tell you why you forgot the word 'aliquis.'"

"Really? Do you think so? Well, I suddenly thought of a woman from whom I could easily get a message that would be very annoying to us both."

"That she missed her courses?"

"How could you guess such a thing?"

[p. 22] "That was not very difficult. You prepared me for it long enough. Just think of the saints of the calendar, the liquefying of the blood on a certain day, the excitement if the event does not take place, and the distinct threat that the miracle must take place . . . . Indeed, you have elaborated the miracle of St. Januarius into a clever allusion to the courses of the woman."

"It was surely without my knowledge. And do you really believe that my inability to reproduce the word 'aliquis' was due to this anxious expectation?"

"That appears to me absolutely certain. Don't you recall dividing it into a-liquis and the associations: reliques, liquidation, fluid? Shall I also add to this connection the fact that St. Simon, to whom you got by way of the reliques, was sacrificed as a child?"

"Please stop. I hope you do not take these thoughts -- if I really entertained them -- seriously. I will, however, confess to you that the lady is Italian, and that I visited Naples in her company. But may not all this be coincidental?"

"I must leave to your own judgment whether you can explain all these connections through the assumption of coincidence. I will tell you, however, that every similar case that you analyze will lead you to just such remarkable 'coincidences!'"

I have more than one reason for valuing this [p. 23] little analysis, for which I am indebted to my traveling companion. First, because in this case I was able to make use of a source which is otherwise inaccessible to me. Most of the examples of psychic disturbances of daily life that I have here compiled I was obliged to take from observation of myself. I endeavoured to evade the far richer material furnished me by my neurotic patients, because I had to preclude the objection that the phenomena in question were only the result and manifestation of the neurosis. It was therefore of special value for my purpose to have a stranger free from a neurosis offer himself as a subject for such examination. This analysis is also important in other respects, inasmuch as it elucidates a case of word-forgetting without substitutive recollection, and thus confirms the principle formulated above, namely, that the appearance or nonappearance of incorrect substitutive recollections does not constitute an essential distinction.[2]

[p. 24] But the principal value of the example aliquis lies in another of its distinctions from the case Signorelli. In the latter example the reproduction of the name becomes disturbed through the after-effects of a stream of thought which began shortly before and was interrupted, but whose content had no distinct relation to the new theme which contained the name Signorelli. Between the repression and the theme of the forgotten name there existed only the relation of temporal contiguity, which reached the other in order that the two should be able to form a connection [p.25] through an outer association.[3] On the other hand, in the example aliquis one can note no trace of such an independent repressed theme which could occupy conscious thought immediately before and then re-echo as a disturbance. The disturbance of the reproduction proceeded here from the inner part of the theme touched upon, and was brought about by the fact that unconsciously a contradiction arose against the wish-idea represented in the quotation.

The origin must be construed in the following manner: The speaker deplored the fact that the present generation of his people was being deprived of its rights, and like Dido he presaged that a new generation would take upon itself vengeance against the oppressors. He therefore expressed the wish for posterity. In this moment he was interrupted by the contradictory thought: "Do you really wish so much for posterity? That is not true. Just think in what a predicament you would be if you should now receive the information that you must expect posterity from the quarter you have in mind! No, you want no posterity -- as much as you need it for your venge-[p. 26] ance." This contradiction asserts itself, just as in the example Signorelli, by forming an outer association between one of his ideation elements and an element of the repressed wish, but here it is brought about in a most strained manner through what seems an artificial detour of associations. Another important agreement with the example Signorelli results from the fact that the contradiction originates from repressed sources and emanates from thoughts which would cause a deviation of attention.

So much for the diversity and the inner relationship of both paradigms of the forgetting of names. We have learned to know a second mechanism of forgetting, namely, the disturbance of thought through an inner contradiction emanating from the repression. In the course of this discussion we shall repeatedly meet with this process, which seems to me to be the more easily understood.
______________________
Footnotes
[1] This is the usual way of bringing to consciousness hidden ideas. Cf. The Interpretation of Dreams, pp. 83-4, translated by A. A. Brill, The Macmillan Company, New York, and Allen, London.


[2]
Finer observation reduces somewhat the contrast between the analyses of Signorelli and aliquis as far as the substitutive recollections are concerned. Here, too, the forgetting seems to be accompanied by substitutive formations. When I later asked my companion whether in his effort to recall the forgotten word he did not think of some substitution, he informed me that he was at first tempted to put an ab into the verse: nostris ab ossibus (perhaps the disjointed part of a-liquis) and that later the word exoriare obtruded itself with particular distinctness and persistency. Being sceptical, he added that it was apparently due to the fact that it was the first word of the verse. But when I asked him to focus his attention on the associations to exoriare he gave me the word exorcism. This makes me think that the reinforcement of exoriare in the reproduction has really the value of such substitution. It probably came through the association exorcism from the names of the saints. However, those are refinements upon which no value need be laid. It seems now quite possible that the appearance of any kind of substitutive recollection is a constant sign -- perhaps only characteristic and misleading -- of the purposive forgetting motivated by repression. This substitution might also existing the reinforcement of an element akin to the thing forgotten, even where incorrect substitutive names fail to appear. Thus, in the example Signorelli, as long as the name of the painter remained inaccessible to me, I had more than a clear visual memory of the cycle of his frescoes, and of the picture of himself in the corner; at least it was more intensive than any of my other visual memory traces. In another case, also reported in my essay of 1898, I had hopelessly forgotten the street name and address connected with a disagreeable visit in a strange city, but -- as if to mock me --the house number appeared especially vivid, whereas the memory of numbers usually causes me the greatest difficulty.

[3]
I am not fully convinced of the lack of an inner connection between the two streams of thought in the case of Signorelli. In carefully following the repressed thought concerning the theme of death and sexual life, one does strike an idea which shows a near relation to the theme of the frescoes of Orvieto.





CHAPTER 3: Forgetting of Names and Order of Words


Experiences like those mentioned concerning the process of forgetting apart of the order of words from a foreign language may cause one to wonderwhether the forgetting of the order of words in one's own language requiresan essentially different explanation. To be sure, one is not wont to besurprised if after awhile a formula or poem learned by heart can only bereproduced imperfectly, with variations and gaps. Still, as this forgettingdoes not affect equally all the things learned together, but seems to pickout therefrom definite parts, it may be worth our effort to investigateanalytically some examples of such faulty reproductions.
Brill reports the following example: --

"While conversing one day with a very brilliant young woman she had occasion to quote from Keats. The poem was entitled 'Ode to Apollo,' and she recited the following lines: --

"'In thy western house of gold

Where thou livest in thy state,

Bards, that once sublimely told

Prosaic truths that came too late.'

[p. 30] She hesitated many times during the recitation, being sure that there was something wrong with the last line. To her great surprise, on referring to the book she found that not only was the last line misquoted but that there were many other mistakes. The correct lines read as follows:--

ODE TO APOLLO
"'In thy western halls of gold
When thou sittest in thy state,
Bards, that erst sublimely told
Heroic deeds and sang of fate.'

The words italicized are those that have been forgotten and replaced by others during the recitation.

"She was astonished at her many mistakes, and attributed them to a failure of memory. I could readily convince her, however, that there was no qualitative or quantitative disturbance of memory in her case, and recalled to herour conversation immediately before quoting these lines.

"We were discussing the over-estimation of personality among lovers, and she thought it was Victor Hugo who said that love is the greatest thing in the world because it makes an angel or a god out of a grocery clerk. She continued: "Only when we are in love have we blind faith in humanity; everything is perfect, everything [p. 31] is beautiful, and . . . everything is so poetically unreal. Still, it is a wonderful experience; worth going through, not withstanding the terrible disappointments that usually follow. It puts us on a level with the gods and incites us to all sorts of artisticactivities. We become real poets; we not only memorize and quote poetry,but we often become Apollos ourselves.' She then quoted the lines given above.

"When I asked on what occasion she memorized the lines she could not recall. As a teacher of elocution she was wont to memorize so much and so often that it was difficult to tell just when she had memorized these lines. 'Judging by the conversation,' I suggested, 'it would seem that this poem is intimately associated with the idea of over-estimation of personality of one in love. Have you perhaps memorized this poem when you were in such a state?' She became thoughtful for a while and soon recalledthe following facts: Twelve years before, when she was eighteen years old, she fell in love. She met the young man while participating in an amateur theatrical performance. He was at the time studying for the stage, and it was predicated that some day he would be a matinée idol. He was endowed with all the attributes needed for such a calling. He was well built, fascinating, impulsive, very clever, and . . . very fickle-minded. She was warned against him, but she [p. 32] paid no heed, attributing it all to the envy of her counsellors. Everything went well for a few months,when she suddenly received word that her Apollo, for whom she had memorized these lines, had eloped with and married a very wealthy young woman. A few years later she heard that he was living in a Western city, where he was taking care of his father-in-law's interests.

"The misquoted lines are now quite plain. The discussion about the over-estimation of personality among lovers unconsciously recalled to her a disagreeable experience, when she herself over-estimated the personality of the man she loved. She thought he was a god, but he turned out to be even worse than the average mortal. The episode could not come to the surface because it was determined by very disagreeable and painful thoughts, but the unconscious variations in the poem plainly showed her present mental state. The poetic expressions were not only changed to prosaic ones, but they clearly alluded to the whole episode."

Another example of forgetting the order of words of a poem well known to the person I shall cite from Dr. C. G. Jung,[1] quoting the words of the author: --

"A man wished to recite the familiar poem, [p. 33] 'A Pine-tree Stands Alone,' etc. In the line 'He felt drowsy' he became hopelessly stuck at the words 'with the white sheet.' This forgetting of such a well-known verse seemed to me rather peculiar, and I therefore asked him to reproduce what came to his mind when he thought of the words 'with the white sheet. 'He gave the following series of associations 'The white sheet makes one think of a white sheet on a corpse -- a linen sheet with which one covers a dead body -- [pause] -- now I think of a near friend -- his brother died quite recently -- he is supposed to have died of heart disease -- he was also very corpulent -- my friend is corpulent, too, and I thought that he might meet the same fate -- probably he doesn't exercise enough -- when I heard of this death I suddenly became frightened: the same thing might happen to me, as my own family is predisposed to obesity -- my grandfather died of heart disease -- I, also, am somewhat too corpulent, and for that reason I began an obesity cure a few days ago.'"

Jung remarks: "The man had unconsciously immediately identified himself with the pine-tree which was covered with a white sheet."

For the following example of forgetting the order of words I am indebted to my friend Dr. Ferenczi, of Budapest. Unlike the former examples, it does not refer to a verse taken from [p. 34] poetry, but to a self-coined saying. It may also demonstrate to us the rather unusual case where the forgetting places itself at the disposal of discretion when the latteris in danger of yielding to a momentary desire. The mistake thus advances to a useful function. After we have sobered down we justify that inner striving which at first could manifest itself only by way of inability, as in forgetting or psychic impotence.

"At a social gathering some one quoted, Tout comprendre c'est tout pardonner, to which I remarked that the first part of the sentence should suffice, as 'pardoning' is an exemption which must be left to God and the priest. One of the guests thought this observation very good, which in turn emboldened me to remark -- probably to ensure myself of the good opinion of the well-disposed critic -- that some time ago I thought of something still better. But when I was about to repeat this clever idea, I was unable to recall it. There upon I immediately withdrew from the company and wrote my concealing thoughts. I first recalled the name of the friend who had witnessed the birth of this (desired) thought, and of the street in Budapest where it took place, and then the name of another friend, whose name was Max, whom we usually called Maxie. That led me to the word 'maxim,'and to the thought that at that time, as in the present case, it was a question [p. 35] of varying a well-known maxim. Strangely enough, I did not recall any maxim but the following sentence: 'God created man in His own image,' and its changed conception, 'Man created God in his own image'. Immediately I recalled the sought-for recollection.

"My friend said to me at that time in Andrassy Street, 'Nothing human is foreign to me.' To which I remarked, basing it on psychoanalytic experience, "You should go further and acknowledge that nothing animal is foreign to you."

"But after I had finally found the desired recollection I was even then prevented from telling it in this social gathering. The young wife of the friend whom I had reminded of the animality of the unconscious was also among those present, and I was perforce reminded that she was not at all prepared for the reception of such unsympathetic views. The forgetting spared me a number of unpleasant questions from her and a hopeless discussion,and just that must have been the motive of the 'temporary amnesia.'

"It is interesting to note that as a concealing thought there emerged a sentence in which the deity is degraded to a human invention, while in the sought-for sentence there was an allusion to the animal in the man. The capitis diminutio is therefore common to both. The whole matter[p. 36] was apparently only a continuation of the stream of thought concerning understanding and forgiving which was stimulated by the discussion.

"That the desired thought so rapidly appeared may be also due to the fact that I withdrew into a vacant room, away from the society in which it was censored."

I have since then analysed a large number of cases of forgetting or faulty reproduction of the order of words, and the consistent result of these investigations led me to assume that the mechanisms of forgetting as demonstrated in the examples "aliquis" and "Ode to Apollo,"are almost of universal validity. It is not always very convenient to report such analyses, for, just as those cited, they usually lead to intimate and painful things in the person analysed; I shall therefore add no more to the number of such examples. What is common to all these cases, regardless of the material, is the fact that the forgotten or distorted material becomes connected through some associative road with an unconscious stream of thought, which gives rise to the influence that comes to light as forgetting.

I am now returning to the forgetting of names, concerning which we have so far considered exhaustively neither the casuistic elements nor the motives. As this form of faulty acts can at times be abundantly observed in myself, I am not at a loss for examples. The slight attacks [p. 37] of migraine, from which I am still suffering, are wont to announce themselves hours before through the forgetting of names, and at the height of the attack, during which I am not forced, however, to give up my work, I am often unable to recall all proper names.

Still, just such cases as mine may furnish the cause for a strong objection to our analytic efforts. Should not one be forced to conclude from such observations that the causation of the forgetfulness, especially the forgetting of names, is to be sought in circulatory or functional disturbances of the brain, and spare himself the trouble of searching for psychologic explanations for these phenomena? Not at all; that would mean to interchange the mechanism of a process, which is the same in all cases, with its variations. But instead of an analysis I shall cite a comparison which will settle the argument.

Let us assume that I was so reckless as to take a walk at night in an uninhabited neighbourhood of a big city, and was attacked and robbed of my watch and purse. At the nearest police-station I report the matter in the following words: "I was in this or that street, and was there robbed of my watch and purse by lonesomeness and darkness." Although these words would not express anything that is incorrect, I would, nevertheless, run the danger [p. 38] of being considered -- judging from the wording of this report -- as not quite right in the head. To be correct, the state of affairs could only be described by saying that, favoured by the lonesomeness of the place and under cover of darkness, I was robbed of my valuables by unknown malefactors.

Now, then, the state of affairs in forgetting names need not be different. Favoured by exhaustion, circulatory disturbances, and intoxication, I am robbed by an unknown psychic force of the disposal over the proper names belonging to my memory; it is the same force which in other cases may bring about the same failure of memory during perfect health and mental capacity.

When I analyse those cases of name-forgetting occurring in myself, I find almost regularly that the name withheld shows some relation to a theme which concerns my own person, and is apt to provoke in me strong and often painful emotions. Following the convenient and commendable practice of the Zurich School (Bleuler, Jung, Riklin), I might express the same thing in the following form: The name withheld has touched a "personal complex" in me. The relation of the name to my person is an unexpected one, and is mostly brought about through superficial associations (words of double meaning and of [p. 39] similar sounds); it may generally be designated as a side association. A few simple examples will best illustrate the nature of the same: --

(a) A patient requested me to recommend to him a sanatorium in the Riviera. I knew of such a place very near Genoa, I also recalled the name of the German colleague who was in charge of the place, but the place itself I could not name, well as I believed I knew it. There was nothingleft to do but ask the patient to wait, and to appeal quickly to the women of the family.

"Just what is the name of the place near Genoa where Dr. X. has his small institution in which Mrs. So-and-so remained so long under treatment?"

"Of course you would forget a name of that sort. The name is Nervi."

To be sure, I have enough to do with nerves.

(b) Another patient spoke about a neighbouring summer resort,and maintained that besides the two familiar inns there was a third. I disputed the existence of any third inn, and referred to the fact that I had spent seven summers in the vicinity and therefore knew more about the place than he. Instigated by my contradiction, he recalled the name. The name of the third inn was "The Hochwartner." Of course, I had to admit it; indeed, I was forced to confess that for seven summers I had lived [p. 40] near this very inn whose existence I had so strenuously denied. But why should I have forgotten the name and the object? I believe because the name sounded very much like that of a Vienna colleague who practised the same specialty as my own. It touched in me the "professional complex."

(c) On another occasion, when about to buy a railroad ticket on the Reichenhall Station, I could not recall the very familiar name of the next big railroad station which I had so often passed. I was forced to look it up in the time-table. The name was Rosehome (Rosenheim). I soon discovered through what associations I lost it. An hour earlier I had visited my sister in her home near Reichenhall; my sister's name is Rose, hence also a Rosehome. This name was taken away by my "family complex."

(d) This predatory influence of the "family complex" I can demonstrate in a whole series of complexes.

One day I was consulted by a young man, younger brother of one of my female patients, whom I saw any number of times, and whom I used to call by his fist name. Later, while wishing to talk about his visit, I forgo this first name, in no way an unusual one, and could not recall it in anyway. I walked into the street to read the business signs and recognized the name as soon as it met my eyes.

[p. 41] The analysis showed that I had formed a parallel between the visitor and my own brother which centred in the question: "Would my brother,in a similar case, have behaved like him or even more contrarily?" The outer connection between the thoughts concerning the stranger and my own family was rendered possible through the accident that the name of the mothers in each case was the same, Amelia. Subsequently I also understood the substitutive names, Daniel and Frank, which obtruded themselves without any explanation. These names, as well as Amelia, belong to Schiller's play The Robbers; they are all connected with a joke of the Vienna pedestrian, Daniel Spitzer.

(e) On another occasion I was unable to find a patient's name which had a certain reference to my early life. The analysis had to befollowed over a long devious road before the desired name was discovered. The patient expressed his apprehension lest he should lose his eyesight; this recalled a young man who became blind from a gunshot, and this again led to a picture of another youth who shot himself, and the latter bore the same name as my first patient, though not at all related to him. The name became known to me, however, only after the anxious apprehension from these two juvenile cases was transferred to a person of my own family.

Thus an incessant stream of "self-reference" [p. 42] flows through my thoughts concerning which I usually have no inkling, but which betrays itself through such name-forgetting. It seems as if I were forced to compare with my own person all that I hear about strangers, as if my personal complexes became stirred up at every information from others. It seems impossible that this should be an individual peculiarity of my own person; it must,on the contrary, point to the way we grasp outside matters in general. I have reasons to assume that other individuals meet with experiences quite similar to mine.

The best example of this kind was reported to me by a gentleman named Lederer as a personal experience. While on his wedding trip in Venice hecame across a man with whom he was but slightly acquainted, and whom he was obliged to introduce to his wife. As he forgot the name of the stranger he got himself out of the embarrassment the first time by mumbling the name unintelligibly. But when he met the man a second time, as is inevitable in Venice, he took him aside and begged him to help him out of the difficulty by telling him his name, which he unfortunately had forgotten. The answer of the stranger pointed to a superior knowledge of human nature: "I readily believe that you did not grasp my name. My name is like yours -- Lederer!"

One cannot suppress a slight feeling of unpleasantness on discovering his own name in a [p. 43] stranger. I had recently felt it very plainly when I was consulted during my office hours by a man named S. Freud. However, I am assured by one of my own critics that in this respect he behaves in quite the opposite manner.

(f) The effect of personal relation can be recognized also in the following examples reported by Jung.[2]

"Mr. Y. falls in love with a lady who soon thereafter marries Mr. X. In spite of the fact that Mr. Y. was an old acquaintance of Mr. X., and had business relations with him, he repeatedly forgot the name, and on a number of occasions, when wishing to correspond with X., he was obliged to ask other people for his name."

However, the motivation for the forgetting is more evident in this case than in the preceding ones, which were under the constellation of the personal reference. Here the forgetting is manifestly a direct result of the dislike of Y. for the happy rival; he does not wish to know anything about him.

(g) The following case, reported by Ferenczi, the analysis of which is especially instructive through the explanation of the substitutive thoughts (like 'Botticelli-Boltraffio to Signorelli'), shows in a somewhat different way how self-reference leads to the forgetting of a name: --

"A lady who heard something about psycho- [p. 44] analysis could not recall the name of the psychiatrist, Young (Jung).

"Instead, the following names occurred to her: K1. (a name) -- Wilde-- Nietzsche -- Hauptmann.

"I did not tell her the name, and requested her to repeat her free associations to every thought.

"To K1. she at once thought of Mrs. K1., that she was an embellished and affected person who looked very well for her age. 'She does not age.' As a general and principal conception of Wilde and Nietzsche, she gave the association 'mental disease.' She then added jocosely: 'The Freudians will continue looking for the causes of mental diseases until they themselves become insane.' She continued: 'I cannot bear Wilde and Nietzsche. I do not understand them. I hear that they were both homosexual. Wilde has occupied himself with young people' (although she uttered in this sentence the correct name she still could not remember it).

"To Hauptmann she associated the words half and youth,and only after I called her attention to the word youth did she become aware that she was looking for the name Young (Jung)."

It is clear that this lady, who had lost her husband at the age of thirty-nine, and had no prospect of marrying a second time, had cause enough to avoid reminiscences recalling youth or old age. The remarkable thing is that the concealing thoughts of the desired name came to the surface [p. 45] as simple associations of content without any sound-associations.

(h) Still different and very finely motivated is an example of name-forgetting which the person concerned has himself explained.

"While taking an examination in philosophy as a minor subject I was questioned by the examiner about the teachings of Epicurus, and was asked whether I knew who took up his teachings centuries later. I answered that it was Pierre Gassendi, whom two days before while in a cafe I had happened to hear spoken of as a follower of Epicurus. To the question how I knew this I boldly replied that I had taken an interest in Gassendi for a long time. This resulted in a certificate with a magna cum laude, but later, unfortunately, also in a persistent tendency to forget the name Gassendi. I believe that it is due to my guilty conscience that even now I cannot retain this name despite all efforts. I had no business knowing it at that time."

To have a proper appreciation of the intense repugnance entertained by our narrator against the recollection of this examination episode, one must have realized how highly he prizes his doctor's degree, and for how many other things this substitute must stand.

I add here another example of forgetting the name of a city, an instance which is perhaps not as simple as those given before, but which will [p.46] appear credible and valuable to those more familiar with such investigations. The name of an Italian city withdrew itself from memory on account of its far-reaching sound-similarity to a woman's first name, which was in turn connected with various emotional reminiscences which were surely not exhaustively treated in this report. Dr. S. Ferenczi, who observed this case of forgetting in himself, treated it -- quite justly -- as an analysis of a dream or an erotic idea.

"To-day I visited some old friends, and the conversation turned to cities of Northern Italy. Some one remarked that they still showed the Austrian influence. A few of these cities were cited. I, too, wished to mention one, but the name did not come to me, although I knew that I had spent two very pleasant days there; this, of course, does not quite concur with Freud's theory of forgetting. Instead of the desired name of the city there obtruded themselves the following thoughts: 'Capua -- Brescia -- the lion of Brescia.' This lion I saw objectively before me in the form of a marble statue, but I soon noticed that he resembled less the lion of the statue of liberty in Brescia (which I saw only in a picture) than the other marble lion which I saw in Lucerne on the monument in honour of the Swiss Guardfallen in the Tuileries. I finally thought of the desired name: it was Verona.

"I knew at once the cause of this amnesia. [p. 47] No other than a former servant of the family whom I visited at the time. Her name was Veronica, in Hungarian, Verona. I felt a great antipathy for her on account of her repulsive physiognomy, as well as her hoarse, shrill voice and her unbearable self-assertion (to which she thought herself entitled on account of her long service). Also the tyrannical way in which she treated the children of the family was insufferable to me. Now I knew the significance of the substitutive thoughts.

"To Capua I immediately associated caput mortuum. I had often compared Veronica's head to a skull. The Hungarian word kapzoi (greed after money) surely furnished a determinant for the displacement. Naturally, I also found those more direct associations which connected Capua and Verona as geographical ideas and as Italian words of the same rhythm.

"The same held true for Brescia; here, too, I found concealed side-tracks of associations of ideas.

"My antipathy at that time was so violent that I thought Veronica very ugly, and have often expressed my astonishment at the fact that any one should love her: 'Why, to kiss her,' I said, 'must provoke nausea.'

"Brescia, at least in Hungary, is very often mentioned not in connection with the lion but with another wild beast. The most hated name [p. 48]in this country, as well as in North Italy, is that of General Haynau, who is briefly referred to as the hyena of Brescia. From the hated tyrant Haynau one stream of thought leads over Brescia to the city of Verona, and the other over the idea of the grave-digging animal with the hoarse voice (which corresponds to the thought of a monument to the dead), to the skull, and to the disagreeable organ of Veronica, which was so cruelly insulted in my unconscious mind. Veronica in her time ruled as tyranically as did the Austrian General after the Hungarian and Italian struggles for liberty.

"Lucerne is associated with the idea of the summer which Veronica spent with her employers in a place near Lucerne. The Swiss Guard again recalls that she tyrannized not only the children but also the adult members of the family, and thus played the part of the 'Garde-Dame.'

"I expressly observe that this antipathy of mine against V. consciously belongs to things long overcome. Since that time she has changed in her appearance and manner, very much to her advantage, so that I am able to meet her with sincere regard (to be sure I hardly find such occasion). As usual, however, my unconscious sticks more tenaciously to those impressions; it is old in its resentment.

"The Tuileries represent an allusion to a second personality, an old French lady who [p. 49] actually 'guarded' the women of the house, andwho was in high regard and somewhat feared by everybody. For a long time I was her élève in French conversation. The word élève recalls that when I visited the brother-in-law of my present host in northern Bohemia I had to laugh a great deal because the rural population referred to the élèves (pupils) of the school of forestry as löwen (lions). Also this jocose recollection might have taken part in the displacement of the hyena by the lion."

(i) The following example can also show how a personal complex swaying the person at the time being may by devious ways bring about the forgetting of a name.[3]

Two men, an elder and a younger, who had travelled together in Sicily six months before, exchanged reminiscences of those pleasant and interesting days.

"Let's see, what was the name of that place," asked the younger, "where we passed the night before taking the trip to Selinunt? Calatafimi,was it not?"

The elder rejected this by saying: "Certainly not; but I have forgotten the name, too, although I can recall perfectly all the details of the place. Whenever I hear some one forget a name it immediately produces forgetfulness in me. Let us look for the name. I cannot think of any other [p. 50] nameexcept Caltanisetta, which is surely not correct."

"No," said the younger, "the name begins with, or contains, a w."

"But the Italian language contains no w," retorted the elder.

"I really meant a v, and I said w because I am accustomed to interchange them in my mother tongue."

The elder, however, objected to the v. He added: "I believe that I have already forgotten many of the Sicilian names. Suppose we try to find out. For example, what is the name of the place situated on a height which was called Enna in antiquity?"

"Oh, I know that: Castrogiovanni." In the next moment the youngerman discovered the lost name. He cried out 'Castelvetrano,' and was pleased to be able to demonstrate the supposed v.

For a moment the elder still lacked the feeling of recognition, but after he accepted the name he was able to state why it had escaped him. He thought: "Obviously because the second half, vetrano, suggests veteran. I am aware that I am not quite anxious to think of ageing,and react peculiarly when I am reminded of it. Thus, e.g.,I had recently reminded a very esteemed friend in most unmistakable terms that he had 'long ago passed the years of youth,' because before this he once remarked in the most flattering manner, [p. 51] 'I am no longer a young man.' That my resistance was directed against the second half ofthe name Castelvetrano is shown by the fact that the initial sound of the same returned in the substitutive name Caltanisetta."

"What about the name Caltanisetta itself?" asked the younger.

"That always seemed to me like a pet name of a young woman," admitted the elder.

Somewhat later he added: "The name for Enna was also only a substitutive name. And now it occurs to me that the name Castrogiovanni, which obtruded itself with the aid of a rationalization, alludes as expressly to giovane, young, as the last name, Castelvetrano, to veteran."

The older man believed that he had thus accounted for his forgetting the name. What the motive was that led the young man to this memory failure was not investigated.

In some cases one must have recourse to all the fineness of psychoanalytic technique in order to explain the forgetting of a name. Those who wish to read an example of such work I refer to a communication by Professor E. Jones.[4]

I could multiply the examples of name-forgetting and prolong the discussionvery much further if I did not wish to avoid elucidating here almost all the view-points which will be considered in [p. 52] later themes. I shall, however, take the liberty of comprehending in a few sentences the results of the analyses reported here.

The mechanism of forgetting, or rather of losing or temporary forgetting of a name, consists in the disturbance of the intended reproduction of the name through a strange stream of thought unconscious at the time. Between the disturbed name and the disturbing complex there exists a connection either from the beginning or such a connection has been formed -- perhaps by artificial means - through superficial (outer) associations.

The self-reference complex (personal, family or professional) proves to be the most effective of the disturbing complexes.

A name which by virtue of its many meanings belongs to a number of thought associations (complexes) is frequently disturbed in its connection to one series of thoughts through a stronger complex belonging to the other associations.

To avoid the awakening of pain through memory is one of the objects among the motives of these disturbances.

In general one may distinguish two principal cases of name-forgetting; when the name itself touches something unpleasant, or when it is broughtinto connection with other associations which are influenced by such effects. So that names can be disturbed on their own account or [p. 53] on account of their nearer or more remote associative relations in the reproduction.

A review of these general principles readily convinces us that the temporary forgetting of a name is observed as the most frequent faulty action of our mental functions.

However, we are far from having described all the peculiarities of this phenomenon. I also wish to call attention to the fact that name-forgetting is extremely contagious. In a conversation between two persons the mere mention of having forgotten this or that name by one often suffices to induce the same memory slip in the other. But whenever the forgetting is induced, the sought for name easily comes to the surface.

There is also a continuous forgetting of names in which whole chains of names are withdrawn from memory. If in the course of endeavouring to discover an escaped name one finds others with which the latter is intimately connected, it often happens that these new names also escape. The forgetting thus jumps from one name to another, as if to demonstrate the existence of a hindrance not to be easily removed.
________________________
Footnotes
[1]
The Psychology of Dementia Prœcox, translated by F. Peterson and A. A. Brill.

[2]
The Psychology of Dementia Prœcox, p. 45.

[3]
Zentralb. t. Psychoanalyse, I. 9, 1911.

[4]
"Analyse eines Falles von Namenvergessen," Zentralb.f. Psychoanalyse, Jahrg. II, Heft 2, 1911.



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