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Thus “omnipotence” will later be included in the symptomatology of obsessional neurosis.

Dear Professor Freud, Kusnacht Zurich, 14 December 1909

Your letter came yesterday evening and I am replying at once.

Your impressions of Binswanger’s paper tally with my own, though I haven’t dared to say so out loud.

I too was annoyed with B. for pushing the business end so blatantly to the fore; his obeisances in various directions obviously amount to just that.

Oh well, he has a sanatorium round his neck, so I suppose we must stretch a point.

Besides, there is a colossal and apparently still unresolved father complex rumbling in his depths.

May I expect something from you for the January issue of the Jahrbuch?

Contributions are coming from Maeder, Abraham, Sadger, Pfister, Riklin and me.

So space is already tight.

Pfister or Riklin could be held in reserve if necessary.

So far as I have heard, Ferenczi’s paper’ is greatly appreciated here.

He wrote me a very nice letter, so understanding and friendly that I probably sent him a very clumsy answer.”

Such letters should really be answered with a blank page, but that too would look unfriendly.

I have made some glosses on your Obsessional Neurosis.

The notion that obsessional ideas are, by their very nature, regressive substitutes for action sounds very convincing to me.

The formula for D. pro ideas would be: regressive substitutes for reality.

Both formulae, it seems to me, describe the main tendency very aptly.

With reference to p. 415, the sadistic component of libido, I must remark that I don’t like the idea of sadism being constitutional.

I think of it rather as a reactive phenomenon, since for me the constitutional basis of the neuroses is the imbalance between libido and resistance (self-assertion).

If, at the start, the libido displayed too strong an attraction or need for love, hate would soon appear by way of compensation, and would subtract a good deal of the work of gratification from the masochistic libido (which by nature is much more nearly akin Ito masochism than to sadism).

I think this is the basis for the immense self-assertion that appears later on in obsessional neurosis: the patient is always afraid of
losing his ego, must take revenge for every act of love, and gives up the sexually destructive obsessional system only with the greatest reluctance.

Obsessional neurosis never gets lost in actions and adventures as in the case of hysteria, where ego-loss is a temporary necessity.

Obviously the self-assertion in obsessional neurosis is far exceeded in D.pr.

P. 411,4 omnipotence of his thoughts.

This expression is certainly very significant in this particular case.

But I have misgivings about attributing any general validity to it.

It seems to me much too specific.

Of course it is idiotic of me to find fault with your clinical terminology, to which you have as much right as the next man.

But, like Herakles of old, you are a human hero and demi-god, wherefore your dicta unfortunately carry with them a sempiternal value.

All the weaker ones who come after you must of necessity adopt your nomenclature, originally intended to fit a specific case.

Thus “omnipotence” will later be included in the symptomatology of obsessional neurosis.

But this seems to me only an expression of self-assertion sadistically coloured by reactive hypercathexis and to be on a par with all the other symptoms of self-overvaluation, which always has such a hurtful effect on everyone in ·the vicinity.

Here, it seems to me, we also have the reason for the obsessional neurotic’s boundless belief in the rightness of his conclusions; they are taken as universally valid regardless of all reason and logical probability: he is and must remain right.

From this rightness of his ideas, which brooks no exception, it is only a step to superstition, which in turn is only a special instance of self-hypercathexis, or rather weakness in adaptation (the two always go together).

All superstition springs from this soil; it has been the weak man’s weapon of attack and defence from time immemorial.

It is not uncommon for the enfeebled to go in for witchcraft, especially old women who have long since lost their natural witchery.

The question of the original sexual constitution seems to me particularly difficult.

Would it not be simplest, for the time being, to start with sensitivity” as the general foundation of neurosis, and to regard all other abnormal conditions as reactive phenomena?

I have just finished my American lectures and have sent them to Brill Ito translate.

Congratulations on the Italian translation!

With kindest regards,


JUNG ~Carl Jung, Freud/Jung, Vol. 1, Pages 272-276