The Psycho-Sexual Differences between Hysteria and Dementia Praecox : 26th April 1908 (Salzburg) : Karl Abraham

by Julia Evans on April 26, 1908

Probably presented at the 1st International Congress of Psychoanalysis, Salzburg, on 26th April 1908


  • Abraham (Karl), “Die psychosexuellen Differenzen der Hysterie und der Dementia praecox”, Centrailblatt für Nervenheilkunde und Psychiatrie, Neue folge, Bd. 19: 521—33, 
  • and in Klinische Beiträge zur Psychanalyse (Leipzig, Vienna, Zurich: Int. Psych. Verlag, 1921); 
  • P64-79 (Chapter II) of Selected Papers of Karl Abraham : with an introductory memoir by Ernest Jones : Translated by Douglas Bryan & Alix Strachey : Hogarth Press : 1927. Available /authors by date or authors a-z

Cited by Jacques Lacan 

Reference [1] p71 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation of The Direction of the Treatment and the Principles of its Power:10th-13th July 1958 : Jacques Lacan  See   here 

p23 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation :

4. Less eroded in its analytic relief, it seems to me, is the second way in which there can be seen what is avoided in transference: namely, the approach borrowed from object relations.

This theory, although it has lost much of its appeal in France in recent years, has like psycho-genetics, a noble origin. It was Karl Abraham who originated this dimension and the notion of part object is his original contribution to it. This is not the place to demonstrate the value of that contribution. I am more concerned to indicate its connection with the partiality of the aspect of the transference that Abraham extracts, by promoting in it the opacity of the capacity for love: as if that were a constitutional given of the patient in which one could read the degree of his amenability to treatment, and in particular, the only one in which the treatment of psychosis would fail.

We have two equations here in effect. The so-called sexual transference (Sexualübertragung) is the basis for the love we call objectal (Objektliebe). The capacity for transference is a measure of the patient‘s access to the real. We cannot stress too much that this merely begs the question.

Unlike the presuppositions of psycho-genetics which is supposed to be based on an order of formal emergences in the subject, Abraham‘s approach can be explained as a finality, that takes its authority from being instinctual, in the sense that it is based on the image of the maturation of an ineffable object, the Object with a capital O that governs the phase of objectality (to be distinguished, significantly, from objectivity by virtue of its affective substance).

This ectoplasmic conception of the object soon revealed its dangers when it became degraded into the crude dichotomy expressed in the opposition of the pre-genital character and the genital character.

Further texts:

For access to the Sigmund Freud papers, see or  Sigmund Freud’s texts available electronically  or here 

By Karl Abrahams : Available here 

Of the clinic  : Available here 

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Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst, London & Sandwich, Kent


Further relevant posts from:

By Jacques Lacan  here 

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here 

Case studies here   

Of the clinic here   

Lacanian History here 

Ordinary Psychosis   here 

Case studies from life – historical figures  here 

Lacanian Transmission here 

Some Lacanian history  here

By Sigmund Freud here 

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud  here 

By Karl Abrahams  here 

By Julia Evans here