Bemerkungen über Sublimierung (Observations on Sublimation): 1922 : Siegfried Bernfeld

by Julia Evans on January 1, 1922

In German: Dr Siegfried Bernfeld : Bemerkungen über Sublimierung (Observations on Sublimation) : Imago : Zeitschrift für Anwendung der Psychoanalyse auf die Geisteswissenschaften Herausgegeben von Prof. Dr Sigm. Freud: Vol 3 : 1922 : p333-344  :

Available at /authors a-z

There does not appear to be an English translation available.

The complete 1922 edition of Imago (Volume III) is published, in German, at & available here

Note, it is possible that Jacques Lacan’s path crossed with Siegfried Bernfelt’s in Paris in the early 1930s.

Mentioned by Jacques Lacan:

Seminar VII : 20th January 1960 : Ch VIII – The object and the thing : p111 – 2nd paragraph

Seminar VII : 10th February 1960 : Ch XI – Courtly love as anamorphosis : p144-145

Seminar VII : 2nd March 1960 : Ch XII – A critique of Bernfeld : p155 3rd paragraph

Seminar VII : 27th April 1960 : Parenthesis – The death drive according to Bernfeld : p204

Reference to Sigmund Freud:


Footnote 1:

Leonardo S. 19/20 : Leonardo da Vinci and a Memory of his Childhood (1910c)

Drei Abhandlungen, S. 100/101 : Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905)

Triebumsetzungen der Analerotik S. 141 : On transformations of instinct as exemplified in anal eroticism (1917)

Einführung des Narzißmus S 102/103 : On Narcissism : an Introduction (1914c)

Footnote 2: Einführung des Narzißmus S 102/103

Footnote 3: Ibidem. Mit etwas anderen Worten (From Web Translator: With something other words (Probably In other words); Drei Abhandlungen, S. 23, 43/44, 100/101,

Vorlesungen (Volume) III. S. 398 : Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis (1916-1917 [1915-1917] : Published by and available here or published by and available here  or published by and available here  : JE suggests one of the following: Lecture XX, The Sexual Life of Human Beings :  Lecture XXI, The Development of the Libido and the Sexual Organizations : Lecture XXII, Some Thoughts on Development and regression – Aetiology

Leornardo, S. 17

Footnote 4 : Massenpsychologie, S. 131 : Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego (1921c)


Footnote 1 : Einführung des Narzißmus, S. 102/103

Footnote 2 : Leonardo S. 75, Drei Abhandlunge, S. 100/101

Footnote 3 : Volesungen, III., S. 398

Über Psychoanalyse, S. 61/62 : published in German by and available to download here : Five Lectures on Psychoanalysis (1910a[1909]) in Two Short Accounts of Psycho-Analysis, Penguin : also published at  available here

Footnote 4 : Vorlesungen, III., S. 328

Footnote 5 : An zahlrechen Stellen der zitierten Freudschen Schriften : From internet translator : At number rake places of the quoted Freud writings!!! (I have no German – help please to

Footnote 6 : Drei Abhandlungen, S. 100/101

Footnote 7 : Drei Abhandlungen, S. 43/44

Footnote 8 : Siehe die bisher zitierten Stellen : From internet translator, See the places quoted so far

Footnote 9 : Drei Abhandlungen, S. 43/44

Footnote 10 : Drei Abhandlungen, S.43/44


Footnote 1 : Massenpsychologie, S. 131

Footnote 2 : Leonardo, S. 17

Notes on Siegfried Bernfeld

From here :  An Austrian philosopher and psychoanalyst, Siegfried Bernfeld (1892-1953) was born March 7, 1892, in Lemberg, the capital city of Galicia, and died April 2, 1953, in San Francisco. Bernfeld distinguished himself in the extent of his knowledge, the originality of his ideas, and his qualities as an educator. A prolific and exacting writer, he was also an outstanding teacher, admired by his students and respected by his colleagues. Freud said he considered him the most gifted of his students and disciples.

His parents lived in Vienna but his mother returned to her hometown to give birth to her first child. In 1910 Bernfeld completed his studies at the Gymnasium and entered the University of Vienna, where he obtained a Ph.D. in philosophy, while also studying psychoanalysis, sociology, education, and biology. All branches of knowledge held an interest for Bernfeld, who was also involved in contemporary political issues. A lucid and passionate left-wing Zionist, he was active in political struggles while he was a university student.

Impregnated with the ideas of psychoanalysis and Marxism, Bernfeld founded, in 1919, the Kinderheim Baumgarten, where nearly three hundred Jewish children, refugees from Poland, were housed. His first book, published in 1921, examined this short, intense period of his life.

In 1925 he published two important works on infant psychology and education. Psychologie des Säuglings (Infant Psychology) is a well-known work that makes use of psychoanalysis and drive theory to develop a new psychology of the infant. Sisyphos is a critique of the idealist notion of education and comes down strongly in favor of a non-authoritarian system, one that respects the life of the instincts and the needs of the student.

In Der Begriff der “Deutung” in der Psychoanalyse (The Concept of “Interpretation” in Psychoanalysis), Bernfeld described the concept of interpretation with the tools of the scientific method, something he shared with Moritz Schlick and Hans Reichenbach. He distinguished several types of interpretation. “Final” interpretation attempts to penetrate the unconscious intentional context in which a determinate psychic production that appears to be isolated from any context can be situated. “Functional” interpretation takes account of the value of a specific psychic fact. “Reconstruction,” an instrument of psychoanalytic science, concretely reconstructs an old psychic process. Because there is a consistent relation between the psychic event and its traces, reconstruction can discover the genetic connection that is continuously repeated through impulse and desire. In this way psychoanalysis is raised to the rank of a natural science to the extent that it provides an explanation for personal psychic events on the basis of certain laws.

The approach to psychoanalysis as a science of traces is based on the leading theories of the field: free association, transference and resistance, which inhibits the formation of missing unconscious connections …

With the collapse of the Weimar Republic and the imminent ascent of Hitler to power, Bernfeld realized that he could no longer remain in Germany. He left Berlin and, after a brief stay in Vienna, went into exile in France in 1932.

Little is known about Bernfeld’s life in France. Apparently, he was not well received by the Paris Psychoanalytic Society. He settled in the south of France, where he met Suzanne Cassirer-Paret, who became his third wife and an important collaborator. In 1936 Siegfried and Suzanne decided to leave France and, in answer to Otto Fenichel and Ernst Simmel’s invitation, emigrated to California in 1937.

JE:  From the above, it is possible that Jacques Lacan’s path crossed with Siegfried Bernfelt’s in Paris in the early 1930s.


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Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst, Earl’s Court, London



Further posts

Reading Seminar VII here

Related text  Seminar VII: The ethics of psychoanalysis: 1959-1960: Jacques Lacan : Available here

Translation Working Group here

Of the clinic here

Dreams here

By Siegfried Bernfelt here

By Sigmund Freud here

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud here

By Jacques Lacan here

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here