Chronicles of the first meeting with Freud and the difficult initial session


A letter from Hilda Doolittle (H. D.) to her companions Bryher and Kenneth Macpherson, sent March 1, 1933. H. D., had journeyed to Vienna to commence her psychoanalysis with Freud himself, though he was old and frail by then. She wasn’t supposed to discuss her analysis with friends, but she wrote about it in great depth to her loved ones; those letters are collected in Analyzing Freud. Here, she chronicles their first meeting and the difficult initial session. The analysis soon improved, though H. D. remained wary of Freud; among other concerns, she found it perturbing that he preferred dogs to cats.

The entrance was lovely with wide steps and a statue in a court-yard before a trellis and gave me time to powder, only a gent with an attaché case emerged and looked at me knowingly, and I thought, “ah—the Professor’s last” and found the door still open from his exit, to let enter cat, who was moaned over by a tiny stage-maid who took off the gun-metal rubbers and said I should not wear my coat. I stuck to the coat, was ushered into waiting room, and before I could adjust … a little white ghost emerged at my elbow and I nearly fainted, it said “enter fair madame” and I did and a small but furry chow got up in the other room, and came and stood at my feet. God. I think if the chow hadn’t liked me, I would have left, I was so scared by Oedipus. I shook all over, he said I must take off my coat, I said I was cold … I did not want to go to bed, the white “napkin for the head” was the only professional touch, there were dim lights, like an opium dive … He said he would prefer me to recline. He has a real fur rug, and I started to tell him how turtle had none, he seemed vaguely shocked, then remarked, “I see you are going to be very difficult. Now although it is against the rules, I will tell you something: YOU WERE DISAPPOINTED, AND YOU ARE DISAPPOINTED IN ME.” I then let out a howl, and screamed, “but do you not realize you are everything, you are priest, you are magician.” He said, “no. It is you who are poet and magician.” I then cried so I could hardly utter and he said that I had looked at the pictures, preferring the mere dead shreds of antiquity to his living presence … I then howled some more and said he was not a person but a voice … I cried some more and the hour was already more than half gone. It was terrible … He is not there at all, is simply a ghost and I simply shake all over and cry. He kept asking me if I wanted the lights changed. He sat, not at, but on the pillow and hammered with his first to point his remarks and mine. I am terrified of Oedipus Rex. What am I to do? He finally made me stand beside him and said though I was taller, he was nearly as tall.

Source: Fun with Freud

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