Sigmund Freud ( 1937-1939)
There are a number of similar processes among those which the analytic investigation of mental life has made known to us. Some of them are termed pathological; others are counted among the varieties of the normal. This matters little, however, for the limits between the two are not strictly defined, and the mechanisms are to a certain extent the same. It is much more important whether the changes in question take place in the Ego itself or whether they confront it as alien; in the latter case they are called symptoms. From the fullness of the material at my disposal I will choose cases that concern the formation of character.
A young girl had developed into the most decided contrast to her mother; she had cultivated all the qualities she missed in her mother and avoided all those that reminded her of her mother. I may add that in former years she had identified herself with her mother--like any other female child--and had now come to oppose this identification energetically. When this girl married, however, and became a wife and mother in her turn, we are surprised to find that she became more and more like the mother towards whom she felt so inimical, until at last the mother-identification she had overcome had once more unmistakably won the day. The same thing happens with boys, and even the great Goethe, who in his Sturm und Drang period certainly did not respect his pedantic and stiff father very highly, developed in old age traits that belonged to his father's character. This result will stand out more strikingly where the contrast between the two persons is more pronounced. A young man, whose fate was determined by his having to grow up with a good-for-nothing father, developed at first--in spite of the father--into a capable, trustworthy, and honourable man. In the prime of life his character changed and from then on he behaved as if he had taken this same father as his example. So as not to lose the connection with our topic we must keep in mind that at the beginning of such a process there always exists an identification with the father from early childhood days. This gets repudiated, even over-compensated, and in the end again comes to light.
It has long since become common knowledge that the experience of the first five years of childhood exert a decisive influence on our life, one which later events oppose in vain. Much could be said about how these early experiences resist all efforts of more mature years to modify them, but this would not be relevant. It may not be so well known, however, that the strongest obsessive influence derives from those experiences which the child undergoes at a time when we have reason to believe his psychical apparatus to be incompletely fitted for accepting them. The fact itself cannot be doubted, but it seems so strange that we might try to make it easier to understand by a simile; the process may be compared to a photograph, which can be developed and made into a picture after a short or long interval. Here I may point out, however, that an imaginative writer, with the boldness permitted to such writers, made this disconcerting discovery before me. E. T. A. Hoffmann used to explain the wealth of imaginative figures that offered themselves to him for his stories by the quickly changing pictures and impressions he had received during a journey in a post-chaise, lasting for several weeks, while he was still a babe at his mother's breast.____________________