Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Freud versus Dora - a battle of wills.

'Dora' Ida Bauer/Adler 

Hats off to Dora! BBC World's 'Health Check' has spotlighted this famous 'case' of psychoanalysis.

'Dora' is the pseudonym Sigmund Freud gave to the teenage girl who claimed her father had offered her to his friend Mr K in exchange for the continued sexual favours of Mr K's wife. This was in the late 1890's when paternalism was the order of the day and fathers could and did 'do' anything they liked with their women without question. If they rebelled it as because they were mad.

Because Dora refused to become her father's friends bit on the side her father considered she was neurotic and she was shipped off to that nice Dr Freud down the street who was gaining a reputation for dealing with troublesome daughters who would not do what they were told.

Today both Dora's father, Mr. K and probably Dr Freud would all be up for sexual harassment or worse.

Dora was remarkably confident for her age. Dora listened very carefully to what Dr Freud had to say, mainly that it was all her fault and she should be delighted  and grateful that a man old enough to be her father and married as well should make sexual advances to her  and  after 11 visits with great courage  and presence of mind told Freud that it was all nonsense and she never wanted to see him again and left.

Dora then went home and had the whole affair out with her parents, which must have come as a shock to the mother to find her husband had been selling his daughter so he could carry on an affair with the friend's wife! Dora went on to live a normal life.

Freud was not to be out done. How could a chit of a girl put down the greatest medical innovator of the day? Freud had his revenge in a nasty way as he presented Dora as a raving neurotic when he published his notes  on the case in 1905 so her reputation was ruined. It also appears to have been quite untrue.

Fortunately time and feminism have caught up with Dr Freud, a man made famous by his  American nephew Edward Bernays who introduced the world to public relations and advertising and knew how 'to sell' his uncle and today Freud is no longer held in awe by the world.

It was unfair to pit a young naive girl against this bastion of male chauvinism who had a serious cocaine habit which may have give him delusions but Dora was a formidable woman and a  worthy opponent who had only scorn for Freud's diagnosis and had the presence to dismiss Freud like a servant.

I so admire her. Hats off to Dora!

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