Sigmund Freud taught that psychoanalysis is such an erotic power play that an analyst must never, ever, analyze a family member. Yet he analyzed his favorite daughter, Anna, for four years. Why?
It may have been because she was gay.
Freud didn’t consider homosexuality in men to be much of a problem. But he considered lesbianism to be a different matter entirely—a gateway to mental illness that is caused by a girl’s father and is often curable by psychoanalysis.
Around the time that Anna became romantically involved with another young woman, Sigmund began psychoanalyzing her six nights a week, late, when all other members of their household were asleep. Yes, Anna later became a psychoanalyst. But this was no “training analysis,” as many of Freud’s followers have claimed. Father and daughter talked about her masturbation fantasies. Ever since she was a pre-teen, Anna’d had violent and sexually satisfying fantasies of being beaten by an enraged father figure for an infraction over which she had no control.
Did Sigmund really not ever entertain the fact that he was the “father figure” in Anna’s dreams, that Anna’s sexual preference was beyond her control, and that their nightly analytic sessions were a beating of sorts? And if Sigmund was so worried about Anna, why didn’t he refer her to a colleague for analysis? Was he too concerned about his personal reputation to risk letting a colleague talk frankly with Anna and discover family secrets? There were plenty of secrets to be discovered, including the fact that he was sleeping with his wife’s sister.
Was Sigmund hoping that, if he were Anna’s analyst, he could quietly rectify any “problems” he had “caused” Anna—and help her refuse a life that would speak embarrassingly about the failings of his theories about people like her?
And just how erotic did things get in the four years that Sigmund and Anna spent talking about sexual fantasies involving a father figure?
THE EROTIC PSYCHOANALYSIS OF ANNA FREUD BY HER FATHER, SIGMUND is the work of Rebecca Coffey, an award-winning journalist who is also the author of the fact-based novel HYSTERICAL: ANNA FREUD’S STORY (She Writes Press, 2014).