April 1, 2009

Lou Andreas–Salomé

Currently reading The Freud Journal by Lou Andreas–Salomé. She was 50 years old when she started studying with Freud. The book documents her experiences in Freud’s often contentious weekly Vienna seminars. He became very attached to her. He brought her flowers. She visited with him at home frequently, often staying late into the morning hours talking about current issues in psychotherapy. On such occasions, Freud insisted on walking her home. By all accounts, they did not have a love affair. (Lou had broken Nietzsche’s heart thirty years earlier; she was Rilke’s lover when she was in her late thirties and the poet was in his early twenties.) Her reflections in the journal are often quite original and provocative. For example:

“It was wonderful to arrive in the Syringasse in the evening with flowers from Freud … I long thought that his concept of ‘polymorphous criminality’ was a colossal exaggeration until I realized that there is inevitably an emotion analogous to hate at the onset of all conscious awareness. We attain our separate individuality only by repelling something and being repelled by it. If hate and the doom of death are found in the underworld of our dreams, that only betokens the first point of departure – the first chilling isolation and separation without which an ego would no more come to be than would pulmonary respiration without the interruption of the direct supply of oxygen from the maternal body.”