"With affectionate greetings to all of you, Papa."
Now - what does he really mean by that?
Papa being Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, the discovery of one of his previously unpublished letters - to Ernst Freud, of whom he was also the father - is naturally the occasion for great excitement and analysis.
A letter dated May 9, 1938, from Vienna was discovered recently by a dealer, in the estate of a New Haven family who presumably acquired it from Ernst Freud, who lived in New Haven. It was then sold for $2,000 to Dr. Daniel Offer, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Chicago's Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center, and director of the center's Psychosomatic and Psychiatric Institute.
Dr. Offer immediately did two things with the two-pape family letter:
1. He donated it to the Psychiatric Library of Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center, in memory of his late wife, thus making it available to scholars and students.
2. He wrote the first paper on it himselft.
The paper, written with Dr. Peter Barglow, focuses on one line of the letter, as a refutation of the sexism with which Freud has been charged. "The recently discovered letter of Freud stimulates us to re-evaluate the current status of feminine psychology and briefly to attempt to identify which of Freud's theories have been corroborated and which have been validated,"they wrote.
The line in question is:
"In general women hold up better than do men."
In context, this statement follows Freud's observation - made just before he was moving from Vienna to London with the help of Anna Freud (of whom he was also the father) - that he was being fretful while she was being energetic.
"Freud continually altered his theories as he obtained new data and information," note Drs. Offer and Barglow, who suggest that this may supplant Freud's previous statements about women's "original sexual inferiority," lack of strength and independence and, of course, envy of superior male equipment.
They have interpreted the "holding up better" to mean generally "in the face of adversity," as well as in the packing-up situation.
However, other questions remain for other researchers in parts of the text which their paper does not analyze.
Here, then, is the full text:
"This morning I received your birthday letter. Thank you very much for it - I don't hold you responsible for the delay!" [What does this say about the father-son relationship? What does this say about the Post Office?] "We were happy to hear that Lux is home again, but we don't know what was wrong with her." [Lux has a cold. If her illness has been pyshosomatic, Freud would have picked it up immediately.] "In the meantime you will have seen our friends and will have learned from them everything I could write about." [Is Freud assuming here that the friends' report will contain the same objective information he could provide about himself, unaffected by the various personalities involved? Or is he sore at being second with the gossip?] "Bob and Bill is perhaps not as mighty as he thinks and would like to appear to others." [Here is an example of the master's plummeting into the depths of human motivation. He shows that a person ain't always as hot as he thinks.]
"We are waiting more or less patiently for our affairs to be settled. In view of the little time we have left to live, I fret at the delay. Anna's youthful vigor and optimistic energy have fortunately remained unshaken. Otherwise life would be difficult to carry on at all. In general women hold up better than do men." [Note to scholars: This paragraph already spoken for.]
"You have forgotten that our Chow is no longer called Jofi but Lun." [Freudian slip?] "Let's hope that despite this error she'll find favor in the eyes of th veterinarian." [Reminder of fallibility and possible cultural bias of unanalyzed medical person.]
"With affectionate greetings to all of you.
Now What does he mean?