Sadism and Masochism: The Psychology of Hatred and Cruelty - Vol. 2

By Wilhelm Stekel; Louise Brink | Go to book overview

XIV
THE TRAGEDY OF AN ANALYST

Suffering is the condition for the activity of genius. Do you believe that Shakespeare and Goethe would have written poetry, or Plato would have been a philosopher, or Kant have criticized reason if they had found satisfaction and contentment in the actual world about them, and all had been well with them there, and their desires fulfilled?

We turn to satisfaction in the world of thought only when in a certain degree we have become at variance and dissatisfied with the real world.

"Naught but suffering raises thee beyond thyself."

SCHOPENHAUER.

The staggering fact of the suicide of my friend Herbert Silberer brought before my eyes the great danger which hovers about analysts. Looking back, I can count up a long series of highly gifted analysts who have voluntarily departed from life. They were unquestionably talented men, almost men of genius, men who justified the greatest expectations.

Occupation with analysis is a great danger. It is a handling of sharp weapons, which may easily turn upon the analyst. Missriegler has made the striking comparison with Röntgen rays. Many Röntgenologists in the period after their discovery had to pay dearly for their occupation with Röntgen rays, until sad events had led to caution and protective measures.

One fact has seemed to me to be striking: the analysts who have committed suicide have either not been analyzed or only for a short time. I know that Silberer had come to analysis solely upon the road of theoretic study.1

It appears that it is impossible even for the most gifted person to know himself unreservedly. For he employs his genius to destroy the germinating knowledge. Or he makes use of a mechanism which I have designated as a "secondary repression."2 He discovers the complexes, manifests real joy in their discovery, and then proudly believes he has mastered them, as if recognition were mastery.

-126-

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