Freud and cocaine HTML version

psychoanalysis. Desiring early fame and material success, Freud
looked for a key in medicine and thought he had found it in
cocaine. Freud championed the drug in glowing terms; he called
it, Stanley Edgar Hyman writes, his "magic carpet" and “thrust it
on all and sundry, including his sisters, friends, patients,
colleagues--everyone” (1954:17). He contributed to the death of a
dear friend, believing that cocaine would wean Ernst Fleischl von
Marxow from his addiction to morphine: Fleischl died of drug
poisoning with Freud nursing him (1). Attacked for his behavior,
he reacted by censoring this episode from his professional
history although it entered surreptitiously through the famous
meditation on dreams.
Reversing this official silence, some later writers have
made cocaine responsible for psychoanalysis. In her book The
Freudian Fallacy, E. M. Thornton attempts to turn all of
psychoanalysis into the symptomatology of Freud’s cocaine
addiction. Roger Dadoun advances a parallel thesis in a much more
generous and metaphoric form: for him, psychoanalysis becomes a
symptom of addiction (but not, as Thornton would have it, of
Freud’s addiction) and a gross example of the return of the
repressed. Scott Wilson argues for a comparable agency for
Freud’s addiction to tobacco, which
remained the unanalyzable yet indispensable support and
supplement to the day-to-day work of psychoanalysis.