A new interpretation of dreams

Hmmm… This is interesting.

Maybe it was just a Freudian slip. Or a case of hiding in plain sight.

Either way, Sigmund Freud, scribbling in the pages of a Swiss hotel register, appears to have left the answer to a question that has titillated scholars for much of the last century: Did he have an affair with his wife’s younger sister, Minna Bernays?

Rumors of a romantic liaison between Freud and his sister-in-law, who lived with the Freuds, have long persisted, despite staunch denials by Freud loyalists. The Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung, Freud’s disciple and later his archrival, claimed that Miss Bernays had confessed to an affair to him. (The claim was dismissed by Freudians as malice on Jung’s part.) And some researchers have even theorized that she may have become pregnant by Freud and have had an abortion.

What was lacking was any proof. But a German sociologist now says he has found evidence that on Aug. 13, 1898, during a two-week vacation in the Swiss Alps, Freud, then 42, and Miss Bernays, then 33, put up at the Schweizerhaus, an inn in Maloja, and registered as a married couple, a finding that may cause historians to re-evaluate their understanding of Freud’s own psychology.

A yellowing page of the leather-bound ledger shows that they occupied Room 11. Freud signed the book, in his distinctive Germanic scrawl, “Dr Sigm Freud u frau,” abbreviated German for “Dr. Sigmund Freud and wife.”

“By any reasonable standard of proof, Sigmund Freud and his wife’s sister, Minna Bernays, had a liaison,” wrote Franz Maciejewski, a sociologist formerly at the University of Heidelberg and a specialist in psychoanalysis, who tracked down the record in August.

Freud’s wife, Martha, knew about his trip with Miss Bernays, if not its nature. The same day Freud signed the hotel ledger, he sent his wife a postcard rhapsodizing about the glaciers, mountains and lakes the pair had seen. In the card, published in Freud’s collected correspondence, he described their lodgings as “humble,” although the hotel appears to have been the second-fanciest in town.

The evidence is persuasive enough for Peter Gay, the Freud biographer and longtime skeptic on what he called “the Minna matter,” to say that he is now inclined to revise his work accordingly.

“It makes it very possible that they slept together,” he said. “It doesn’t make him or psychoanalysis more or less correct.”

Quite so. But interesting nonetheless. Wonder what Woody Allen makes of it.

Thanks to Gerard for the link.