Wilhelm Stekel : biography

March 18, 1868 - June 25, 1940

Contributions to psychoanalytic theory

Theory of neurosis

Stekel made significant contributions to symbolism in dreams, 'as successive editions of The Interpretation of Dreams attest, with their explicit acknowledgement of Freud's debt to Stekel':Gay, p. 173 'the works of Wilhelm Stekel and others...since taught me to form a truer estimate of the extent and importance of symbolism in dreams'.Sigmund Freud, "Preface to the Third Edition", The Interpretation of Dreams (London 1991) p. 49

Considering obsessional doubts, Stekel said, In anxiety the libido is transformed into organic and somatic symptoms; in doubt, the libido is transformed into intellectual symptoms. The more intellectual someone is, the greater will be the doubt component of the transformed forces. Doubt becomes pleasure sublimated as intellectual achievement.Wilhelm Stekel, "The Doubt", Compulsion and Doubt (London: Peter Nevill, 1950), p. 92.

Stekel wrote one of a set of three early 'Psychoanalytic studies of psychical impotence' referred to approvingly by Freud: 'Freud had written a preface to Stekel's book'.Sigmund Freud, On Sexuality (London 1991) p. 248 and n Related to this may be Stekel's 'elaboration of the idea that everyone, and in particular neurotics, has a peculiar form of sexual gratification which is alone adequate'.Wittels, p. 231

Freud credited Stekel as a potential forerunner when pondering the possibility that (for obsessional neurotics) 'in the order of development hate is the precursor of love. This is perhaps the meaning of an assertion by Stekel (1911 [Die Sprache des Traumes], 536), which at the time I found incomprehensible, to the effect that hate and not love is the primary emotional relation between men'.Sigmund Freud, on Psychopathology (Middlesex 1987), p. 143-4 The same work is credited by Otto Fenichel as establishing 'the symbolic significance of right and left...right meaning correct and left meaning wrong '.Otto Fenichel, 'The Psychoanalytic Theory of Neurosis (London 1946) p. 224 Less flatteringly, Fenichel also associated it with 'a comparatively large school of pseudo analysis which held that the patient should be "bombarded" with "deep interpretations,"'Fenichel, p. 25 a backhanded tribute to the extent of Stekel's early following in the wake of his break with Freud.

Contributions to the theory of fetishism and of perversion

Stekel contrasted what he called "normal fetishes" from extreme interests, "They become pathological only when they have pushed the whole love object into the background and themselves appropriate the function of a love object, e.g., when a lover satisfies himself with the possession of a woman's shoe and considers the woman herself as secondary or even disturbing and superfluous (p. 3). Stekel also deals differently than Freud with the problem of perversion. A lot of perversions are defense mechanisms (Schutzbauten) of the moral “self”; they represent hidden forms of asceticism. To Freud, the primal sexual venting meant health, while neuroses were created because of repressing sexual drives. Stekel, on the other hand, points out the significance of the repressed religious “self” in neuroses and indicates that apart from the repressed sexuality type, there is also a repressed morality type. This type is created in the conditions of sexual licentiousness while being opposed to doing it at the same time. In the latter instance, 'Stekel holds that fetichism is the patient's unconscious religion'.Wittels, Sigmund Freud p. 195n "Normal" fetishes for Stekel contributed more broadly to choice of lifestyle: thus 'choice of vocation was actually an attempt to solve mental conflicts through the displacement of them', so that doctors for Stekel 'were "voyeurs who have transferred their original sexual current into the art of diagnosis"'.H. Freeman, Seminars in Psychosexual Disorders (1998) p. 55

Living octopus

Living octopus

In countries which are located near sea coasts, sea food is an important part of national cuisine