Introduction to ‘The Complete Letters of Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess 1887-1904’ : 1950 : Ernst Kris

by Julia Evans on January 1, 1950

The Origins of Psycho-Analysis – Letter to Wilhelm Fliess, Drafts and Notes : 1887-1902 by Sigmund Freud

Edited by Marie Bonaparte, Anna Freud, Ernst Kris

Authorized Translation by Eric Mosbacher and James Strachey

Introduction by Ernst Kris

Basic Books, Inc., Publishers New York : 1956

Originally published in German : London, Imago Publishing Co. 1950


Editors’ Note by Marie Bonaparte, Anna Freud & Ernst Kris : pix : 1950

Translators’ Note by Eric Mosbacher and James Strachey : pxi : 1956

Introduction by Ernst Kris:    p1

I. Wilhelm Fliess’s Scientific Interests p3

II. Psychology and Physiology p14

III. Infantile Sexuality and Self-Analysis        p27

IV. Psycho-Analysis as an Independent science (End of the Relationship with Fliess) p35

All above available from /authors a-z or freud

Linked Commentary:

Tracing Stages linked to Libido in Freud by Julia Evans on 24th October 2017 or here

References to Sigmund Freud and their availability

The Interpretation of Dreams: 1st November 1899 (published as 1900): Sigmund Freud  : See here

The Project for a Scientific Psychology: 23rd & 25th September & 5th October 1895: Sigmund Freud or here

P5 Draft C : Attached to Letter 12 : 30th May 1893

P12 Letter 11 : 18th December 1892

P13 Letters 24 : 23rd May 1895,

& Letter 35 : 8th November 1895,

& Letter 135 : 16th May 1900

Letter of 24th January 1895 and Draft H, Paranoia (The Emma Eckstein episode) : 24th January 1895 : Sigmund Freud : See here

P18 Letter 18 : 21st May 1894

P24 Sigmund Freud (1897b) = Abstracts of the Scientific Writings of Dr. Sigm. Freud 1877-1897′, SE, v. 3, pp. 227-43.  : Abstract XXXII ‘On the grounds for detaching a particular syndrome from neurasthenia under the description “anxiety neurosis”.’

P25 Draft G Melancholia : probably 7th January 1895 : Sigmund Freud : See here

P29 Letter of September 21st, 1897 (Letter 69)

Letter to Wilhelm Fliess of 21st September 1897 : known as Letter 69 : Sigmund Freud : See here

P30 Letter 65 : 12th June 1897

& Letter from Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess of 14th November 1897 : known as Letter 75 : See here

P31 Letter 70 : 3rd October 1897

P32 Letter to Wilhelm Fliess of 15th October 1897: known as Letter 71 : Sigmund Freud : See here  (Mentions both Oedipus & Hamlet)

P34 Letter 82 : 16th January 1898

& Letter from Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess: 19th February 1899: Known as Letter 105 : See here

P35 Letter 107 : 28th May 1899

P37 Letter from Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess: 6th December 1896 : Known as Letter 52 or here

P39 Letter from Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess: 6th December 1896 : Known as Letter 52 or here

Letter to Wilhelm Fliess of 25th May 1897 : known as Letter 63 : & Draft M Notes (II) Architecture of Hysteria : Sigmund Freud : See here

Letter from Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess of 14th November 1897 : known as Letter 75 : See here

P39 Letters 85 : 15th March 1898

&  Letter 146 : 19th September 1901

P40 Letter 146 : 19th September 1901

P41 23rd July and 17th July 1904 :

Letters from Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess : p464 & p466 of The Complete Letters of Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess 1887-1904 : Translated & Edited by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson : Harvard University Press : 1985


14th March 1938 & 11th June 1938 : Letters from Sigmund Freud to D. Abrahamsen : It appears these are held at Columbia University,

P41 Letter 147 : 20th September 1901

P42 Letter 147 : 20th September 1901

P43 Letter 66 : 7th July 1897

& Letter 134 7th May 1900

Quoted in  Tracing Stages linked to Libido in Freud by Julia Evans on 24th October 2017 or here which is linked to Seminar IV : 21st & 28th November 1956. See Seminar IV : The Object Relation & Freudian Structures 1956-1957 : begins 21st November 1956 : Jacques Lacan or here and Notes & References for Jacques Lacan’s Seminar IV : 21st November 1956 by Julia Evans on 28th February 2017 or here

Relevant to Jacques Lacan

Seminar IV : 5th December 1956 : paragraph 16 : See Seminar IV : The Object Relation & Freudian Structures 1956-1957 : begins 21st November 1956 : Jacques Lacan or here

Para 16 One is astonished that in the “Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality”, Freud only had to slightly modify a passage in which he had spoken of the physical support of the libido for the first time in 1905, in terms such that the discovery, the subsequent circulation of the idea/notion of sex hormones, led him to hardly need to modify this passage. There is no wonder there. This means that in all cases this reference to a strictly chemical support has no importance whatsoever.

– Also see Notes & references for Jacques Lacan’s Seminar IV : 28th November 1956 by Julia Evans on 2nd July 2017 or here

– Also p22-23 of Kris : The closeness of relations between the Viennese and Berlin physiologists, convincingly described by Bernfeld, provided part of the background of the relationship between Freud and Fliess. Then Fliess came to Vienna the scientists on whom he called were men with whom he inevitably felt closely linked. His works leave no doubt that he came of the same school as they’ and jt was no accident that, as we have already mentioned, he made a present to Freud of Helmholtz’s collected works. The ideal of establishing biology on a firm physical-mathematical foundation showed itself more and more plainly in his works. His inclination to mathematics is clearly deducible from the correspondence; it played an unhappy role in his later works, and expressed itself in the sub-title of his principal work, Der Ablauf des Lebens(“The Course of Life”) (1906) with which he looked forward to “laying the foundations for an exact science of biology”.

Fliess’s interest in Freud’s researches must be seen against this background. He supported Freud in his need to preserve a connection between psychological conceptions on the one hand and physiological and physical conceptions on the other; and finally he offered his own hypotheses as a foundation for Freud’s findings; an action which was provoked by his sense of rivalry to Freud and led inevitably to their eventual estrangement.

But in the early years of their friendship the factors which led to their estrangement acted as a mutual stimulus. Fliess’s theory of the nasal reflex neurosis touched on one of Freud’s liveliest interests, the problem of the differential diagnosis of hysterical and somatic disturbances, with which he had already been concerned in Paris. But he did not deal with the subject till 1893, seven years after his return from Paris, when he published an article in French on one aspect of the problem and demonstrated with unsurpassed clarity that hysterical paralysis conducted itself “as if no anatomy of the brain existed”, but had to do with “the general reactivity of a definite group of ideas”.[Footnote 1 : “Some Points for a Comparative Study of Organic and Hysterical Motor Paralysis” (1893c). The article was based on a suggestion of Charcot’s. See Freud’s footnote to page 268 of Charcot (I892-3a).

– & p44-45 of Kris : Not till after his self-analysis, when he was able completely to fuse the dynamic and genetic points of view, did Freud succeed in establishing the distance between the physiological and psychological approaches. His first attempt to do so in The Interpretation of Dreams was surprisingly successful; the psychical structure sketched in Chapter Seven of that work was the foundation on which all his subsequent work on the question was built. In the next few years Freud specifically rejected any attempt to use any conceptions taken from the physiology of the brain. He abandoned the idea “of proclaiming cells and fibres or the systems of neurones which nowadays take their place… as psychical paths, though it must be possible to represent such paths in terms of organic elements of the nervous system in some not yet assignable way”. l

Some years later Freud threw light on the problem of the relations between physical and mental processes in his work on psychogenic disturbances of sight(1910i), in which he developed the fundamental principles of what has come to be known in the last two decades as psychosomatic medicine. 2  He subsequently repeatedly spoke of the connection between psychological and biochemical processes as a field still awaiting exploration, and always emphasized that the terminology of psycho-analysis was provisional, valid only until it could be replaced by physiological terminology. 3 What Freud said of the terminology of psycho-analysis obviously applied also to its conceptions. The psychic entities of psycho-analysis are described as organisms and characterized by their functions, just as physiological organs are. This is a direct link with the “Project” of 1895. 4

The result was that in studying the structure of the psychical apparatus, with the investigation of which Freud had been concerned since the time of his study of cerebral anatomy, it was possible to preserve the connection between the physiological and psychological approaches without hampering psychoanalysis by the closeness of the connection. 5


1 Cf. Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious (1905c), where he stated the future task of the physiology of the brain in the terms used by Charcot : “Je fais la morphologie pathologique, je fais même un peu l’anatomie pathologique, mais je ne fais pas la physiologie pathologique, j’attends que quelqu’un d’autre la fasse”. Regret at the failure of all attempted psychological explanations in the terms of brain physiology are frequently expressed in Freud’s works. See the passage quoted on page 349.

2 See Fenichel (1945)

3 See Kris (1947)

4 See Hartmann, Kris and Loewenstein (1947). This was written before the authors were acquainted with the “Project”.

5 For an elaboration see Kris, 1951


Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst


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By James Strachey

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