Bulletin of the Psychoanalytic Research Society, Volume I, Number 1, Spring, 1992
Letters will be published if they are on topics of interest to the members of the Section. The editor reserves the right to edit letters for content, length and style. Letters should be no longer than 250 words.
I am writing to share with readers a joke that Freud reportedly told, that I think is relevant for all of us who either look for rules in a process as complex as psychoanalytic treatment, or hope to apply the results of empirical studies in our clinical work. In a symposium on the evaluation of therapeutic results in 1948, Obrendorf discussed a situation which is not all that rare in treatment-when after considerable analysis of unconscious material, an interpretation is made which seems correct, and which the patient seems to understand and accept, but which produces no change in the patient's ability to function. Obrendorf reports, "I asked Freud what one did in such a case and he told the following story: A Jewish man bitten by a dog went to the Rabbi and asked him what one did to keep dogs from biting. The Rabbi said: 'When the dogs run out, lie down in the road, don't move, pretend you are dead and everything will be all right.' The man followed the instructions but the dog came out and bit him as he laid in the road. He (the unhappy man), ran back to the Rabbi asking what was wrong. The Rabbi answered: 'Well, I knew it, you knew it, but the dog didn't know it.'" As we launch the Bulletin, hopefully in time, we will know even more about what the dogs know and hopefully, we will keep the humility and humor which Freud had in the face of the complexity we deal with daily.
Joseph Turkel, Ph.D.
New York, NY