Well, this was a difficult read.
While there were certain characteristics of Freud’s writing style that I appreciated (the way he speaks directly to the reader as if it’s a conversation, and his language is fairly accessible for something of this genre), overall I found this to be fairly dry and just kind of blah.
As I was reading I kept stopping and asking myself what the hell I was reading. What was it originally? ‘An analysis’ could mean a lot of things … am I just being daft and it’s clearly a _______?
Also, I can’t help but feel for Dora. The narrator (Freud, interestingly) seems to play the part of both doctor and psychologist (or counsellor), and doesn’t necessarily do either well. Some of his analyses seem a bit far-fetched to me, especially when he talks about children who perpetually suck their thumbs.
“Thus, at a time when the true sexual object, that is, the male organ, has already become known, circumstances may arise which once more increase the excitation of the oral zone, whose erotogenic character has, as we have seen, been retained.” (Freud 45)
So … kids who suck their thumbs are subconsciously simulating a blowjob? I don’t buy it. I also have to say, while I appreciate that in society it may seem weird for us to call genitalia by their actual names, it actually started to annoy me that Freud refused to just come out and say ‘penis’. Especially since he has no problem talking openly about ‘phantasies’ and masturbation. I mean, there are sexual metaphors everywhere in Dora, but he continues to skirt around the issue and doesn’t just call a spade a spade. (I know this sounds awfully crude, but I honestly can’t think of a better way to put it.)
I also want to speak briefly to the way bisexuality is addressed. On page viii of the introduction, the editor says that “[Dora’s] unconscious Lesbian tendencies were allied to a painful tangle of motives that only a master of detection like Freud could have picked apart – and yet held together in their true pattern, so that the reader can see the whole of Dora’s predicament in all its irremediable complexity.” This seems to imply that there have to be motives behind her attraction to Frau K, rather than it just being seen as the natural human tendency to love.
Then there’s the second part, “Hysterical Phantasies and Their Relation to Bisexuality”. I don’t think bisexuality is something that needs to be explained, and I don’t think Freud does a very good job trying to explain/rationalize it. People are attracted to people, and it’s something that continues to mystify those who feel the need to analyze everything.