Ros McCarthy – The Wolfman – Symptoms as a Representation of Identificatory Conflicts

THE LETTER 58 Spring 2015, Pages 59-70
This text explores the connectivity between sexual differentiation and the
Wolfman’s complicated symptomatology, tracing its progress through the
dream and the primal scene to his latter-day complaint about the world being
hidden by a veil.
Key words: sexual differentiation; seduction; castration; the veil

Sergei Pankejeff (1887-1979) moved to Germany from Russia, his country
of birth, in the wake of the Russian Revolution in 1905. The following year,
his sister Anna committed suicide. This was followed in 1907 by his father’s
suicide, reducing the family unit to mother and son three years before he commenced
his analysis with Freud in 1910, at which time he was twenty three
years old.
In the course of his childhood, Pankejeff had a series of psychical disturbances.
These included a change in his character when he was three and a half, an
animal phobia from the age of four, the appearance of an obsessional neurosis
at the age of four and a half, an hallucination at the age of five that he has lost
his finger and a further outbreak of an obsessional neurosis between the ages
of eight and ten.
In his eighteenth year, he had several inpatient stays in German sanatoria.
These were due to a mental breakdown, which appears to have been precipitated
by a gonorrhoeal infection. Seen by the leading psychiatrists of the day,
Ziehen and Kraepelin, he was subsequently diagnosed with manic–depressive
disorder. Freud refuted this diagnosis, having detected no changes of mood
during the years in which Pankejeff was in analysis with him. Freud considered
his further symptomatology – as this related to chronic disturbance of his…


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