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Steedman - The World Turned Within

The World Turned Within  


by Carolyn Steedman

Long established associations between littleness and interiority and between history and childhood were theorised in emergent psychoanalysis between about 1895 and 1920.  In establishing psychoanalysis as a body of theory and as a cognitive form, Sigmund Freud worked with the imaginative legacy of cell theory, that is to say with notions of littleness, of entities composed of smaller parts, and with the idea of the smallest possible entity as the birthplace, or progenitor, of memory and consciousness of time.  He used a different set of connections and formulations in his delineation of childhood itself as something which, though lost and gone, has left behind memories and traces.  This chapter will discuss both formulations and uses of the idea of childhood.


The quest for the origins of psychoanalysis has had a long run and is not exhausted yet 1. Many searchers discover how inadequate the 'background' -  in neuro-anatomy, or physiology, or whatever-is to explain the extraordinary innovation of the idea of the unconscious revealed through dreams and the phenomenon of transference. 2  Rather than searching for origins, this chapter describes the material

used for thinking and theorising at a particular point in time, material available to Freud from many

heterogeneous late eighteenth-a and early nineteenth-century cultural, literary and scientific sources.  I

take Freud to be a typical user of this material, however innovative and extraordinary in impact his

theory construction turned out to be.  The connections sought here are between ideas, figures and

bodies of thought, connections that lie in their own history and in the history of their later effect.  Their

claim to importance is the meaning of childhood that Freudian psychoanalysis bequeathed to Western

thought.  I make some suggestions about how that might have happened:  in what manner childhood

(the idea of the child) came to encapsulate and articulate what it did about an adult sense of interiority,

in both formal and informal expression.  This fragment of history about to be told is connected to the

development of 'history' itself.


   We know a good deal about the self-conscious embrace of history by different European cultural traditions from the late eighteenth century onwards.  In Britain it has been described in reference to the popularity of historical fiction, the founding of antiquarian and archaeological societies and historical reviews and journals, and the establishment of history as a university discipline.3  More generally, the nineteenth-century emergence of the modern discipline of history has been aligned with historical explanation in the life sciences. In their purposiveness, natural history and history both offered the comforts of narrative exegesis: the comforts of a story.4 


   Evidence of a desire for reconciliation to the social order by means of history and historical explanation has also been found in literary forms and devices. Franco Moretti calls the Bildungsroman a ‘comfort of civilisation’, because of the way in which it uses historical explanation to make the world a homeland — a place to be at home in — for its characters and its readers. According to Moretti, the novel of growth, development and formation produced this effect by denying any place outside the circle of story and history that the text itself created.5   In the circle of time of the Bildungsroman there can be no meaningless events. Moretti aligns this narrative form with the development of historical explanation in the life sciences and, indeed, with nineteenth-century historical studies themselves: ‘narrative and history.., do not retreat before the onslaught of events, but demonstrate the possibility of giving them order and meaning’.6  


In this discussion of history’s centrality to nineteenth-century thought, a prominent place has recently been given to melodrama. Christina Crosby has described mid-nineteenth-century English stage melodrama as both a literary form and a force that domesticated history by identifying the social with the familial and making the past a subject for nostalgia. She argues that in the many plots that melodrama employed, the past was presented as something that was lost, but that was also there to be found:  a place to find a home in.7  Crosby’s argument depends much on the idea of what it is that is found; depends on the idea of women, or ‘Woman. Defining ‘history’ as the truth of ‘man’ entailed creating various categories like ‘savages’ or ‘primitive man’ and ‘women’, which related to history in quite a different way. They are history’s Others, outside it (or in the case of the last category, both outside history proper and inside, indoors, in the domestic realm). The imaginative and intellectual move that Crosby describes is summed up thus: ‘Men are constituted as historical subjects and find “man” in history by virtue of locating woman elsewhere.' 8  


What is sought in the melodramatic mode, and in the fictions and stage presentations that Crosby discusses, is the maternal woman, she who was once present but is now absent: ‘it is she who is an originary site of total love and complete satisfaction that must be found again’.In the melo­drama that Crosby discusses in most detail, Wilkie Collins’s The Frozen Deep, though the actual setting for Acts II and III is the icy and arid wastes of Greenland and the Arctic, and though what is literally found is the supine and frozen body of Frank, it is actually Clara, the woman in question, who is ‘Found!’10   Wardour, who loves her as deeply as Frank, saves the life of his rival because of Clara’s saving image. This image allows him to struggle 'towards the light of home, towards the perfect union with the perfect woman' - though he actually dies in striving towards the ideal.  The point is that 'home and woman-in-the-home together constitute an absent present that may be recovered'. 11  However, it really is not clear that what is found in this plot structure is Woman (or indeed, a woman) because it is not certain that that is what had been lost.  What was actually lost and found, in the many plot structures that articulated the quest, this and the following chapters will attempt to relate.


Long before Christina Crosby discussed the importance of history nineteenth-century thinking by locating Victorian Woman as that which is lost, Peter Brooks told us that melodrama is 'a mode of excess', and the exemplary genre of the post-Romantic age.  Because the world is desacralised, the conflict between good and evil must be brought into people's very existence and being, and ethical conflicts must be spoken aloud, by figures utterly opposed to each other, in exaggerated conflict and in hyperbolic exchange.  Brooks accounts for the social origins of this mode in French post-Revolutionary theatre, but his thesis is more centrally concerned with melodrama as 'a mode of conception and expression... a certain fictional system for making sense of experience, [and] as a semantic field of force. 12  He is particularly interested in charting the movement of melodramatic modes and gesture into the novel and into a collective imagination.  Nevertheless, stage melodrama is crucial to later and more general uses, particularly in 'the desire to express all', and the range of gesture, stance and movement by which the absent could be made present, the unfathomable discovered.

Nothing is spared [in melodrama] because nothing is left unsaid; the characters stand on the stage and utter the unspeakable, give voice to their deepest feelings, dramatise through their heightened and polarised words and gestures the whole lesson of their relationship.  They assume primary psychic roles, father, mother, child and express basic psychic conditions. 13

The many points of analogy between melodrama and psychoanalysis (between the melodramatic imagination and the imagination stocked by psychoanalytic models and paradigms) leads Brooks to the conclusion that psychoanalysis is 'the modern fulfillment and codification of melodrama', and that it has become 'a necessary mode within modern consciousness'.  14  Christina Crosby describes Freud as 'an historian of subjectivity ... of an Oedipal past which makes it indelible, obscure mark on the present'. 15  We shall be in a better position to understand the shape and form of this history of subjectivity, the place where it was lost and where it was found, if we map out the kind of past that was described in the physiological and biological thought that shaped it.


Evolution conceived of on a growth and development model was assimilated and used because it did not necessarily demand the abandonment of belief in an orderly and purposeful creation developing towards a goal.16  As a structure of thought and inquiry it also provided the satisfactions -  and the comforts of -  historical explanation: if a pattern of progressive development is built into the very nature of things - if things contain, or encapsulate in some way, what they are to become - then following the course of their history will allow predictions about the future.17 Rather than post-Darwinian questions of descent and modification through time being adapted for the historicisation of other fields of inquiry (cultural anthropology, emergent sociology, and history itself are the fields commonly mentioned) it seems more likely that evolutionary, biology shared with these other disciplines a general cultivation of developmental, or historical explanation. 18


If ‘historical ... explanation was satisfactory explanation', we need to understand why was this so. 19  Stephen Bann discusses the development of historical thought in the nineteenth century, paying particular attention to the contemporary means of representing history (historical ideas, theories, information) in the novel, in the visual arts, and in the organisation of museums and archives. 20  He discusses the 'historian as taxidermist', desperate to give what is in fact dead and gone - the past - the appearance of life.  His work raises an important series of questions about the development of historical thinking in the nineteenth century, and the emergence of the modern belief that it is the historian's task to produce an account of the past that parallels or resembles it.  'At what stage, and in what domains,' asks Bann, 'does the idea of life-like representation achieve expression both in theoretical and in practical terms? 21


This question has often been answered by making reference to the historical writing of Leopold von Ranke and the historical procedures and assertions connected with his name:  that accuracy of data must be the foundation of historical writing, that the historian's task is to consider the past from its own perspective rather than from a 'present-centred' one, and that events viewed in this way must be narrated - in a much-repeated phrase 'as they actually happened'.  Indeed, Ranke's subordinate clause - wie es eigentlich gewesen (as it actually was) - has achieved a kind of iconic status among historiographers of the late twentieth century.  Bann understands the anxious repetition of the phrase 'actually happened', and indeed Ranke's original formulation, to be part of a much wider search by nineteenth- and twentieth-century historians (and their various audiences) for lifelike representation, or vériete.22


 The principle of vériete was that historical writing must be faithful to the events it sought to describe, so that it might render them lifelike, 'as they really were', or ' as they really happened'.  The distance between vériete and eighteenth-century theories of representation was immense.  An earlier tenet of vraisemblance acknowledged a distance between the entity and its representation; by a process of mimesis it imitated it, stood in for it: represented it.   When Bann asks about this change, and attempts to answer the question what, on the anthropological level, necessitates the abandonment of the rule of mimesis, or mediated representation?’ he has recourse to an argument that has already appeared in these pages, that is to the argument embodied in Michel Foucault’s Man, who at the beginning of the nineteenth century feels himself to be emptied of history as he contemplates a world in which there is no longer a unified narrative to hold him in place at its centre, only many competing histories, natural histories and philologies, none of which is anthropocentric.23 But it is Bann’s insight, not Foucault’s, that ‘the restoration of the life-like is... a response to a sense of loss’; it is he who notices that ‘the Utopia of life-like reproduction depends upon, and reacts to, the fact of death’. 24  


The post-Romantic historical search for the past 'as it really was' was made possible by a new, ‘scientific’ attention to the texts and documents and other traces in which the past might be found. Modern historiographers have noted how attention to fragments and traces of past cultures in nineteenth-century historical writing actually slowed time down, as the disparate and fragmented elements of social life were put together under the heading of cultural coherence. Carl Schorske argues that in Johann Jacob Burkhardt’s Civilisation of the Renaissance in Italy (1860), for example, time as it was represented ‘did not stop...  but it was ... slowed down. Not transformation but cultural coherence became the focus of attention.’25  Historiographers of the late nineteenth century were often quite clear about these changes that had been wrought by a new attention to time and narrative, and dated their development with some precision. Charles Langlois’s and Charles Seignobos’s Introduction to the Study of History (1898) surveyed a century of history writing from the vantage point of the century’s end, and noted the great change that took place in the 1850s and 1860s, locating narrative changes in the first period of ‘scientific research, in the mid-century:

up to about 1850, history continued to be, both for historians and the public, a branch of literature. An excellent proof of this lies in the fact that up till then, historians were accustomed to publish new editions of their works ... without making any change in them, and tolerated this practice. Now every scientific work need to be continually recast, revised, brought up to date... transformed by subsequent researches ... it is enough for [historians] that their labours should have contributed to the production of works by which their own have been superseded, and which will be, sooner or later, superseded in their turn. It is only works of art that enjoy perpetual youth.26  

    Attempts like this, to make change, alteration and all of history's terrors part of the epistemological and procedural basis of a discipline, were a strategy forced by the historical tale that Darwinian thought implied.  


     In Darwin’s Plots, Gillian Beet has described the metaphors, narrative structures and ordinary everyday acts of the imagination that were used in nineteenth-century society in order to absorb and assimilate evolutionary theory. What was it that people needed to understand and assimilate? The great order of consanguinity and relationship in nature’s first kingdom is sometimes described as the first lesson to be learned from Darwin, but Beer (and other commentators) draw our attention to the much greater impact of the idea that ‘everything was subject to irreversible change’, that ‘whole species had vanished and that even the evidence of their existence had crumbled away’. The evolutionary theory that Darwin’s Origin of Species crystallised and made overt reinforced other evidence from geology and natural history and ‘suggested irretrievable loss’ 27  What is more, the theory implied that any individual creature was both - or just - 'a vehicle and dead end’.  Individual organisms did not evolve during the course of their own life; they ‘merely took part in a generational process’.28 Added to this, Darwin’s theory seemed to require extinction, and ‘death was extended from the individual organism to the whole species’. 29   John Draper’s dynamical, or historical, physiology, ‘which speaks of the course of life, of organs, individuals, races... ', was an earlier example of the way in which physiological understanding of human bodies and their course through growth to death was applied to the external world, in order to depict vast tracts of social and cultural time.  Non-Darwinian evolutionary thought was adapted to explain large-scale social and cultural developments: the rise and fall of peoples, races and nations.30  A physiologist like Draper believed that the analogy he was using to describe cultural and historical developments through time was that of individual human growth. In giving an account of the intellectual development of Europe he suggested that ‘the life of a nation may be said to be no longer than the life of a person...':

The origin, existence, and death of nations depend ... on physical influences, which are themselves the result of immutable laws.  Nations ... must undergo transitional forms offered by the animal series.  There is no more immortality for them than there is an immortality for an embryo in any one of the manifold forms passed through in its progress of development. 31

Yet social and cultural appropriation of this bleak message of extinction could transform it into one of comfort.  In evolutionary anthropology, for example, the idea of the potential for growth was moved from the individual to the collective.  Entire peoples and races might then be seen as part of the childhood of the human race, in need of guidance and protection certainly, but with the potential (however distant in prospect) for achieving the adult state.  Growth in children was observable, natural and undeniable, and ‘evolution of the race could be confirmed in the same way’.32 Observers of ‘childlike’ peoples also had the great satisfaction of presuming themselves to be at a peak of development.33  Hugh Cunningham has shown how, by use of a complex set of analogies, children of the urban poor in nineteenth-century Britain were connected with the ‘savages’ of the anthropological imagination. Yet even the act of discovering ‘savagery among prosaic little street traders and crossing-sweepers carried its own compensation, for if savages represented the childhood of the human race, or were themselves children, - then they were necessarily capable of development and change, for these were the essential potentialities of childhood.  By a complicated doubling back of an analogy, the dirty, wild children of the very poor could be assigned to ‘childhood’ by virtue of their savagery. Evolutionary theory used in this way implied loss and disintegration, but it also proffered powerful images of progress and ascent. In its Darwinian and non-Darwinian forms, evolutionary theory described hope, by depicting children as the embodiments of the history that ostensibly implied death and extinction.  


Darwin himself was interested in the evidence that children presented, and made connections between evolutionary progress and the development of the faculties in young children.34   George Romanes, Darwin’s younger collaborator and pupil, published a good deal of the older man’s manuscript material in Mental Evolution in Animals (1883), and Mental Evolution in Man (1888). By 1888, having used notes left by Darwin, Romanes was in a position to suggest that ‘the emotional life of animals is so strikingly similar to the emotional life of man  - and especially young children -  that I think the similarity ought to be taken as direct evidence of a genetic continuity between them’.35  In describing mental development, Romanes showed that the higher order of ideation  - the human ability to conceptualise the abstract - involved self­consciousness, that is, a mind that not only knew, but knew that it knew. The question to be answered in Mental Evolution in Man was whether the self-consciousness manifested by human beings was different in degree or kind from mental processes in animals.  The organism that posed this question was conceived of in physiological terms; it was ‘one connected whole; all parts... mutually related in the unity of individual sensibility’. In deed, physiological cell theory shaped the language in which Romanes wrote about self-consciousness; he claimed that self-consciousness arises out of an admixture of the protoplasm of judgement with the protoplasm of sign-making'. 36  But answers to questions posed by self-consciousness were framed by reference not to physiology but to evolutionary biology.  Romanes claimed that the only way to discover whether human self-consciousness differed in kind from the range of emotions displayed by animals was to consider its rise ‘in the only place where [it] ...can be observed, namely, in the psycho-genesis of a child'. 37  In this exegesis, the child was a piece of living evidence for certain psychogenetic processes.  Conceived of in this way, the child was the most perfect encapsulation of the idea that had animated both materialist and vitalist life sciences throughout the century:  the insight that in the course of development a living organism repeats the evolutionary stages of its genus; that ontogeny repeats phylogeny.


Romanes also used the striking findings of contemporary philology in order to define language itself as an 'unconscious record of the growth and decay of ideas . . . as the stratified deposit of thoughts’.38  He suggested that in ‘the growing intelligence of a child we have lll as complete a history of “ontogeny”, in its relation to “phylogeny” as that upon which the embryologist is accustomed to rely when he reads the morphological history in the epitome which is furnished by the development of an individual’.39  No one, said Romanes, who opposed the idea of the evolution of mind could ever have paid any attention at all to the actual process of psychogenesis ‘as this occurs in the growing child’.40  


Mental Evolution in Man was read and annotated by Freud in the early 1890s.41  Indeed, Freud could be taken as a typical user of the new branch of child study exemplified by Romanes’s work, and his own theory development as an example of what was done with the idea of recapitulation in fields of inquiry other than the biological. Freud was to claim some years later that the child entered the world with a sum of instinctual knowledge, and in 1909, when he published his only case study actually involving a young child, he attributed many of Little Hans’s problems to a phylogenetic endowment of fear and other instinctual primitive emotions.42  Later, Freud made direct theoretical claims on Darwin (a reading of Darwin filtered through Romanes) to argue that many childhood fears, especially neurotic phobias, were the result of the history of the race that the child encapsulated, that is, were phylogenetically caused.43  


None of this was unusual.  Frank Sulloway has described ‘Darwin’s pervasive influence on child psychology’, and the way in which in the second half of the nineteenth century it became increasingly common for psychologlsts like William Preyer in Germany, James Sully in Britain, and Mark Baldwin in the United States to compare the emergence of instincts in childhood with those in the lower animals.44   Freud received Mark Baldwin’s ‘rampantly biogenetic’ Mental Development in the Child and the Race in 1897, three years after it was published, and commented to Wilhelm Fleiss that it was interesting to see how ‘writers are now turning so much to child psychology.. . one still remains a child of one’s age, even with something one had thought was one’s very own’.45  Freud was very familiar with recapitulatory child psychology and made explicit reference to the works of Sully, Preyer, Baldwin and Groos in his ‘Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality’.46  


Language and the child, seen both as evidence and epitome of the processes of evolution, were used figuratively to outline the project of a scientific child psychology. Introducing the first volume of The Mind of the Child William Preyer opposed the psychology of the tabula rasa, arguing that the tablet had already been written upon 'before birth, with many illegible, nay, unrecognisable and invisible marks, the traces of long-gone generations’.  The more closely and attentively a child was observed, the more easily legible became the traces, even though ‘it is hard to discern and decipher the mysterious writing on the mind of the child’.47  


The psychology that framed Freud’s development of psychoanalysis was certainly evolutionary, though perhaps not Darwinian. The motor of evolution in Darwin’s argument was accidental: natural selection was not part of an unfolding plan, but the result of random, incidental events. The older, pre- or non-Darwinian biology that is now understood to have shaped much late nineteenth-century evolutionary thinking was also used in the construction of childhood in the new child-study movement, from which Freud learned so much  48  Non-Darwinian  evolutionary theory used by psychologists of the child-study movement expressed an inherent teleology, with the  idea of progress being embedded in the idea of development.  In this way, the child’s developing body and mind could be understood as an epitome of a more general historical progress. When W.B. Drummond published his popular and summative Introduction to Child Study in 1907, he suggested in his epigraph that ‘child-study marks the introduction of evolutionary thought into the human soul’. The anthropologist, ‘unable to discover a living specimen of primitive man, turns to the child as his nearest.  This course of human development, revelatory of so much more than itself, began in pre-natal life, in the first place in a division and subdivision of the original cell into a little mass of cells’. 49


Growth, conceived of in biological terms, demanded historical explanation. A progression through the stages of development, observable in all embryos and young creatures, carried evidence of a human cultural past and of a biological past; and the young child, possessed of language (or the capacity for language), carded linguistic evidence as well of the distant and lost processes of acculturation. ‘Growth’, understood in this way, was a biological and therefore a historical phenomenon, and the child of the species was used as working material for its investigation. A child psychology was partly constructed in the expectation that cultural and historical evidence enclosed within the child’s body and mind could be retrieved and used.


In some late nineteenth-century psychological accounts, the child’s understanding of its own body and its own interiority was used as a form of historical evidence.  James Sully thought that the child’s ideas of ‘origin, growth and final shrinkage’ mirrored ‘the development of the idea of the soul by the race’, for among the ancient peoples ‘its seat was placed in the trunk ... long before it was localised in the head’.50   When the child is able to grasp the idea of ‘a conscious thinking “I”, the head will become a principal portion of the bodily self. This conscious self, the self that ‘thinks, suffers and wills’, comes to be ‘dimly discerned’ by the end of the third year31  As it came into being, this self historicised itself, by constructing ‘the unreachable past’.  Sully observed how ‘very curious are the directions of the first thought about the past self. The child had to encounter the ‘terrible mystery, time’. Sully described how children seem at first ‘quite unable to think of it as we think of it, in an abstract way. ‘Today,” “tomorrow,” and “yesterday” are spoken of as things that move.’ When he pointed to the child’s inability to grasp ‘great lengths of time’, he gave expression to the great sadness that evolution and history had bequeathed. He made a curious elision of adult and child when he suggested that ‘possibly [a] sense of immeasurable lengths of certain experiences of childhood gives the child’s sense of past time something of an aching sadness which older people can hardly understand’.  In Sully’s description the subject feeling loss is at once adult and child (or neither; both are ageless subjects of time and history): ‘Do not the words “long, long ago,” when we use them in telling a child a story carry with them for our ears a strangely far-off sound?’32  


For William Preyer, consciousness of time came into being in the same way, when

 to the original consciousness belonging to sensation is added the experience of succession, and with that the consciousness of time; then the simultaneousness of the sensations of contact, and with this the consciousness of space; finally, the consciousness of the causal connection of two or more contacts that have come to con­sciousness in time and space, and with this the idea of the body touched. 35

He made similar points about time and loss when he discussed the infant sucking bow it 'awakens the recollection of the sweet taste; the sweet taste of itself causes sucking.  This succession is already a separation in time of two sensations (the sweet and the motor sensation in sucking).’ The separation in space requires the child to recall two sensations and, with this, 'the first act of intellect is performed, the first perception made, i.e., a sensation first localised in time and space'. 54  


When Sigmund Freud turned his attention to childhood (to adult memories and uses of childhood rather than to actual children) in the 1890s, he certainly worked within a framework of understanding that was derived from evolutionary child study. His belief in the existence of an instinctual, or phylogenetic, endowment is well documented. Perhaps of more significance for the mature development of his theory was his growing understanding that a particular form of time came into being in the child’s body.   This understanding was first arrived at when he paid attention to the processes of pathological defence observable in the adult’s memory (and repression of memory) of bodily trauma in childhood.

What Freud believed at this stage was that sexual abuse (precocious sexual stimulation, or ‘seduction’, in contemporary terms) could have no immediate psychopathological repercussions on the nervous system at the time of its occurrence, because the sexual instinct was not developed in infancy and the child could not comprehend what was being done to it. Nevertheless, the memory would remain; indeed, according to Freud sexual abuse exerted ‘a uniquely delayed psychophysical effect upon the human nervous system’.55 At the arrival of puberty ‘this mnemic psychical trace’, long since forgotten and relegated to the unconscious portion of the mind, would suddenly be reawakened, Then, due to the physiological changes wrought by puberty, this memory would now ‘display a power which was completely lacking from the event itself.   The memory [would] operate as though it were a contemporary event’.56  The hysterical symptoms displayed by many of Freud’s patients in the 1890s were often taken as evidence of earlier sexual trauma.  


Gradually between 1897 and 1905, Freud came to an understanding - or at least to a public understanding - that what many of his patients were describing was not actual sexual abuse in childhood, but a fantasised seduction. 57   It was in November 1899 that he described clearly for the first time how fantasies might operate at the unconscious level in order to produce an alternative form of reality. In The Interpretation of Dreams he wrote that ‘if we look at unconscious wishes reduced to their most fundamental and truest shape, we shall have to conclude ... that psychical reality is a particular form of existence not to be confused with material reality’ 58  The abandonment of belief that adult neuroses and psychotic amnesia were caused by childhood sexual abuse and the move towards a conviction that fantasised events operated in the psyche as if they were real events, was an early stage in a very long process of theory construction, which is often traced through Freud’s uncovering and formulation of the Oedipal crisis in a child’s life.  


Though the crisis, or complex, was not named until 1910 (in the Five Lectures on Psycho-analysis) it was discussed in a roundabout way in Interpretation of Dreams of 1900; the idea was at work in the ‘Dora’ case study of 1905, and in the Three Essays on Sexuality of the same year, but again, was not directly discussed, The theory is outlined more clearly in ‘Family Romances’ (1908) and in ‘The Sexual Theories of Children (1909).59   The perceived threat of castration by the father, who prohibits the child's incestuous desire for the mother, forces a resolution of the child's Oedipal crisis.  The child accepts the societal proscription on incest, introjects the universal, patriarchal law, and thus begins to form the voice of conscience and prohibition within itself. It is through the Oedipal crisis that the child develops an individual identity and a place in social, family and sexual organisation; but the child can only do this by splitting off its guilty desires, and repressing them into the unconscious. So the human being who emerges from this crisis is a split subject, torn between consciousness and the unconscious. Childhood, as a cluster of desires, happenings, experiences, assaults and traumas, is relocated, put into another place—a place that for the moment we only need to label not the conscious mind, under the sway of a radically different form of time.


The prehistory of how Freud came to theorise this other form of time (time that is not the same as social time, nor narrated time) is not to be found in The The Interpretation of Dreams. Something else was written by him on this question in the early months of the last year of the century, in which childhood was clearly formulated as its basis. In ‘Screen Memories’, published in September, childhood was pivotal to the argument. 60  'Screen Memories’ is an account of his discovery that the earliest of childhood memories - Freud's own and those of his patients - had been found never to have taken place, never to have ‘really happened’.  It is an argument claiming that the importance of childhood memories actually actually lies in what they reveal of the adult's unresolved conflicts about current circumstances.  Of this realisation, this moment, this paper (written in the early months of 1899) Jacqueline Rose says that we have been reading the wrong Freud on the subject of children, and that ‘we do not realise that Freud was first brought up against the unconscious when asking how we remember ourselves as a child’.61  This, then, is the place where Freud discovered a particular meaning of childhood (began to evolve his theory of childhood), its status as a form of history, and its import for the narration of time. 62  What Freud used in this formulation was not the grand sweep of external, evolutionary time (though evolutionary inheritance, embodied in the child, certainly did have a place in his depiction of childhood, and of the few children he wrote about).  But when he described an interiorised time coming into being in a child’s body, his new formulations were made within the paradigms of the neurological physiology in which t in the 1870s and 1880s.  


Freud had experienced intellectual formation through debates waged between materialism and vitalism in the Viennese Physiological Institute, of which he was a member between 1876 and 1882. In 1873 he had become a student in a medical school in which materialist physiology had been given enormous theoretical force and élan by Ernst Brücke.65  In 1874 Brücke had published his Lectures in Physiology, which offered a powerful vision of organic bodies as systems of smaller parts moved by forces.  The smaller parts interact with each other, combine, are transformative through their action within an enclosed system. 64  Siegfried Bernfeld reminds us that as late as 1929 it was with this vision and this vocabulary that Freud described 'Psycho-analysis', for the Encyclopaedia Britannica, as an investigation into the forces in the human organism 'which assist or inhibit one another, combine with on e another, enter into compromises with one another.' 65  He was quoting here from Brücke's Lectures on Physiology.  So as a young man, Freud was taught by men who had been extraordinarily vocal anti-vitalists in their own youth, in the 1840s and 1850s, pledged to proving that 'no other forces than the common physical-chemical ones are active within the organism'. 66


Tracing Freud's development of psychoanalysis, Frank Sulloway has described the way in which, by the mid-1980s, Freud was content to formulate psychological explanations for ordinary everyday repressions, that is, repression following on childhood seduction.  But the highly pathological repression that resulted in complete amnesia forced a physiological explanation.  In Freud's schema, neuroses were the toxological consequences of wrontly utilised libido and so whatever inhibited them 'must be something quantitative and thus physiological'. 67  Freud's search for the precise chemical and neurological details of the process of pathological repression prompted his Project for a Scientific Psychology of 1895.  This was written out of his understanding of recent cell theory, a conceptualisation of the nervous sytem as consisting of distinct yet similarly constructed neurones.  He understood neurones to have contact with each other through the substance surrounding them.  Through this substance, contact lines were laid down, along the tracks made when the neurones received stimulus and gave it off.  He described this stimulus as deriving from the ordinary cellular processes going on in the body.  They, too, had to be discharged, and the organism could not withdraw from them as it could from external stimuli. 68  Freud thought it likely that neurone structure meant that resistances could take place in the contacts between one neurone and the other: 'in this way they receive the value of barriers'. 69  He thought there might be two types of neurone:  those with no contact barriers, through which stuff passes, and which remain as they were before stimulus; and those whose contact barriers operate, and which are changed by each excitation, thus affording ' a possibility of representing memory'. 70  The distinction between two types of neurone, the perceptual and the mnemonic, was important for Freud's outline of the processes of repression, which had been observed in victims of childhood abuse, and which he here described as taking place at the cellular level.  


Freud returned to these questions in his 'Beyond the Pleasure Principle', written twenty years later, in which he still pursued an answer at the level of the cell.  This is to say that the arguments that he felt obliged to consider in 1920, about the compulsion to repeat unpleasurable experiences, were structured by reference to the picture of ‘a living organism in its most simplified form.. . an undifferentiated vesicle of a substance that is susceptible to stimulation’. This ‘little fragment of a living substance’ acquires a kind of shield, as a result of ‘the ceaseless impact of external stimuli’; in this way, a kind of crust was formed around it, ‘which at last would have been so thoroughly “baked through” by stimulation that it would present the most favourable possible conditions for the reception of stimuli and become incapable of any further modification’. This was the way in which the shield became capable of giving rise to consciousness; also, having become inorganic, the energies of the external world could pass through it, into the underlying layers, though its main function remained protection against those outside stimuli.

Freud described the way in which there was no such protection from the excitations coming from within the little fragment of living substance; those feelings and excitations were of much greater intensity. In an attempt to deal with them and provide a barrier against them, the vesicle treated them as if they came from outside, so that it might be possible ‘to bring the shield ... into operation as a means of defence against them’. This, said Freud, was one of the origins of projection.71  


Freud believed that the compulsion to repeat those unpleasurable sensations that came from within was caused by ‘a universal attribute of instincts and perhaps of organic life in general which has not hitherto been clearly recognised’, that is, the ‘urge inherent in organic life to restore an earlier state of things ... an old state of things, an initial state from which the living entity has at one time or other departed’.72  He described a course of desire, for the quietude of inorganic being, and used the vicissitude of the cell to provide the image of psychological processes.  


Pondering his own use of language in ‘Beyond the Pleasure Principle’, Freud suggested that the difficulty with his exegesis of 1920 was the way in which he chose to use the figurative language of metapsychology (‘death instinct’, ‘pleasure and unpleasure’); its deficiencies might vanish if he were in a position to replace the psychological [terms] by physiological or chemical ones’, for whilst it was true that ‘they too are only part of figurative language’, it was at least a language with which he and his readers had ‘been long familiar and which is perhaps a simpler one as well’. But in ‘Beyond the Pleasure Principle’ he had used physiological terms and images, in the way he had in ‘Project’, when he first described the progress of time, memory and consciousness. The resources of the nineteenth-century physiological imagination were used to depict psychological processes embodied in a tiny fragment of living matter, that is, in a cell. Discovery of the processes of repression through the uncovered traumas of childhood sexual abuse lay at the basis of Freud’s formulation of the unconscious. That an account of its aetiology was given at the level of the cell (in the neurone and its relationships) does not merely delineate some kind of false start on Freud’s part, nor a misdirection in the development of psychoanalytic theory (though many accounts like this have been written, of physiological explanation replaced by a more mature psychological vision). What concerns us here is the process of envisaging: the little place within was the child at the heart of the theory, as well as at the heart of the psychoanalytic body.  


We need to return briefly to a fantasy. Freud’s theory of phantasy involves the imagined scene, or event, or happening, which is the fulfillment of a wish (this phantasy can be conscious or unconscious). Freud’s evolution of the idea of phantasy is inextricably bound up with the question of whether or not it really happened. We know the accusatory account of how Freud abandoned the seduction theory between 1897 and - when? 1900? 1905? possibly not at all - from Jeffrey Masson’s book of 1984, and his version of the events which led Freud to claim that his hysterical patients were not describing actual sexual abuse in childhood, but rather, a fantasised seduction?73  Then 1988 gave us Larry Wolff’s Postcards from the End of the World and a similar charge against Freud, not of betraying women, but of forsaking the battered children fin-de-siecle Vienna (and of the twentieth century in general). Wolff depicts Freud anxiously combing his morning newspaper all through November and December 1899, for reviews of The Interpretation of Dreams. The charge is this: that the one man in Europe who could have explained contemporary cases of child bettering, did not even comment on the column inches devoted to them. 74  


The year 1899 matters very much in the account we have of Freud’s recantation of his earlier theories, for it was in The Interpretation of Dreams, published in November, that he can be seen to have made the first and enduring distinction between psychical reality and material reality?75  Here he postulated a different kind of time from social time and narrated time, though the fact that it was indeed time and narrative with which he dealt here would not become clear until he had written up the case of ‘Dora' (in 1901; not published until 1905) and that of the Wolf-man (in 1918). 76  In this last case history, Freud made it abundantly clear, for the first time, that narrative truth, order and sequence do not much signify in the eliciting of a life-story, for we get the same story in the end, whichever way we tell it or construct it:   the individual’s account of how she or he got to be the way she or he is. 77  


In the long twentieth-century process of claiming Freud by rewriting the history of his ideas, the abandonment of the seduction theory - a first step in the formulation of the Oedipal theory - has been a matter for celebration as much as it has been condemned as a betrayal of abused women and children, for here Freud can be seen to make a move from physiological to psychical explanation.  Moreover, with the abandonment of the seduction theory, Freud can be seen to leave behind a notion (or naive belief) that the events of the past can be retrieved, the past itself reconstructed as it really was; and he can be watched moving towards 'the mature psycho-analytic theory of history as making meaning out of memory in the service of the present'. 78  By the procedures of this teleological history of ideas, a theory of the unconscious can be seen being formulated very early on indeed, and recognised in all its radical and desirable otherness.  Indeed in the modern desire to see Freud forsake physiology and the belief that psychic processes are based in the functioning of the body, it has been argued that even in the 'Project" of 1892 Freud adopted a structure of explanation that was metaphoric rather than material and physiological.  Using a spatial metaphor in the reading of Freud's early work, and ascribing the same metaphorical use to his writing, it has been argued that the "Project for a Scientific Psychology' can be read so as to see the mind possessing both place and hierarchy, with the unbearable and unthinkable pushed below - or at least, somewhere - into repression. 79  In this line of argument it is considered important that 'the concept of repression presupposes a topographical division of the mind - that is, a division of the mind baed on a figurative representation of the psyche by means of a spatial metaphor.' 80


In fact, this argument might equally serve to remind us of the material with which the spatial metaphor did its work, that is, with the cell.  The metaphorical structures utilised by Freud involved the irreducible unit of physical organisation, the entity that was both a place, and a place where things happened:  the topos of the cell.  The cell, the smallest place within, promoted another set of analogies, for what the cell carried was the child turned within, an individual's childhood history laid down inside its body, a place inside that was indeed very small, but that carried with it the utter enormity of a history.

So powerful is the image of evolution's sway in the nineteenth century, so frequently are we reminded of the way in which evolutionary thought made its mark on every field of human thought and endeavor, that it is possible to forget the means that were available for resisting the plot - of growth, development, history, death - that was brought in its train.  In physiology and physiological cell theory a different kind of time was configured and employed, one that bore some relationship to older concepts of metamorphosis.  "Transformation and metamorphosis may take place almost without time.  Gillian Beer reminds us.  "Growth cannot.  It is therefore in some measure equivalent to history.' 81  As she points out, the idea of metamorphosis expressed 'continuance, survival, the essential self transposed but not obliterated by transformation'. 82  Cell theorists had most firmly confronted death, in all their writings, and stared it down, because what they learned from that long nineteenth-century encounter was that there simply could not be final extinction.  If there is a point in natural philosophy which may be regarded as finally settled,' said Draper in 1856, 'it is the imperishability of the chemical elements and the everlasting duration of force.  With the system of nature existing as it is, we cannot admit that an atom of any kind can ever be destroyed'. 83  'Perhaps in some age hereafter,' he mused, 'physiology will find herself sufficiently advanced to offer her opinion on this profound topic, for I cannot think that GOD has left us without a witness in this matter, even in the structure and development of the body itself', 84  With this vision, it was possible to dehistoricise history,  and remove it from time. This was not done by denying change or death, and certainly physiologists like Draper used the grand analogy between national types and the individual, both with their ‘Infancy, Childhood, Youth, Old Age and Death, respectively’.85  But death was not extinction,  as long as the structure of thought allowed ‘the death of particles in the individual [to answer] the death of persons in the nation'.  The point was, as Draper explained, that ‘through all these losses and changes, the immaterial principle has passed unscathed . . . In the broadest manner that a fact can be set forth, we see herein the complete subordination of structure and the enduring character of spirit.' 86


Gillian Beer has described now metamorphosis and growth offered the nineteenth century 'two radical orders for narrative', and she shows the tension between them at work in several examples of Victorian fiction.  Metamorphosis and growth also constituted orders for narrative outside the fictional realm, for physiology and psychoanalysis - to point to current examples.  But writing like Draper's shows that though they offered radical orders, they were not radically opposed to each other, and a notable feature of mid-nineteenth cell theory was its formulation to encompass the problems presented by evolutionary theories of growth, development and history.  Cell theory, like many other bodies of thought in the period, was indelibly marked by evolutionary theory; but it used the individual as working material rather than the species; it operated by procedures that excluded the chance that provided the motor of Darwinian thinking; and it worked within the framework of a determinism that explained the action of body parts in terms of their function.  In this way, the radical alternative vision offered by cell theory lay in its denial of extinction:  nothing goes away.  It was this understanding that Freud used to delineate the unconscious:  the place where childhood (an individual history) is put, and thus released from time.  George Henry Lewes wanted an Oedipus to come, to unlock the gates to the terminal mystery of growth.  They theory that Freud constructed in the name of the King of Thebes was a slowly formulated strategy, by which the mystery (which was only a mystery because of time) could be removed form the temporal order, and childhood turned within, to the timeless interiority of the unconscious.  


In the version of Welhelm Meister that the nineteenth century knew, Mignon dies with a shriek and a melodramatically explicit gesture. In the same moment she indicates both the cause of her death (“‘Let it break... It’s been beating too long anyway”’) and a fleeting repulsion of what she says she welcomes: ‘Mignon suddenly felt for her heart with her left hand, and stretching out her right arm with a violent movement, she collapsed’ (WMA 111:105)87 A doctor and a surgeon are called, and pronounce her dead. The doctor asks for permission to ‘give some permanence to the remains of this strange being... I wish to apply immediately to this dear creature the beautiful art of not only embalming a body, but also of pre­serving in it an appearance of life’ (WMA 111:106, 107). Wilhelm is intensely interested in the young surgeon’s bag of instruments, for he is sure that he has seen it before, when his wounds were tended after the ambush in the forest.88  But Schiller thought that this response, which seems to exclude mourning for Mignon, would jar with the ‘sentimental’ demands of Goethe’s audience. He was not the first reader to find it odd that Wilhelm, ‘who is after all the cause of her death and knows it, has at this moment eyes for the instrument case and can lose himself in memories of past scenes when the present should possess him utterly'. 89  


It is now as Mignon lies in her angel garments -  ‘as if asleep in a very pleasing manner’- and is lowered into the depths of a marble sarcophagus, that her story is told for the first time and we learn of the insanity of her inheritance. Nineteenth-century retellings of Wilhelm Meister repeated the story that is given to Mignon’s corpse, for the plots of restoration and refusal of death in which she found herself had to reveal the endowment that made her a bride worthy of Meister. Almost without exception, the plot of restoration removed incest and insanity and left Mignon’s abduction by rope-dancers or gypsies, finding its conclusion in the alternative end-stop of the Biidungsroman, that is, in marriage rather than death.90  

Forgotten - or repressed - by nineteenth-century operatic and melodramatic versions of Wilhelm Meister, this scene can serve as an epitome of the topics of childhood, death and history, their centrality and their connection, in nineteenth-century Western culture.  The ideas of growth and development came to be more and more articulated around observation of the young of the species, and particularly in terms of human children.  What emerged in this way was a collection of concepts and understandings of children's bodies that became one of the components of 'childhood'.  The puzzle of growth, its cessation, and its prewritten end in death, all of which caused so much physiological deliberation in the mid-century, was also subject to exploration in other fields of inquiry.  Evolutionary thought and exegesis (in its non-Darwinian and Darwinian modes) provided some solution to the problem of growth, for its was able to find meaning in the child's early and rapid development.  The meaning it found was historical, that is to say, it made the stages of a child's development analogous to a more general human history. 


The embalming of the child Mignon, her horribly rouged, dead-yet-alive appearance as she is lowered to her marble bed, the vulgarity of it all so remarked upon across the centuries, can only act as the allegory of the preceding discussion. Only in the structure of this book can the scene in which death is resisted by restoring the appearance of life be taken as gesture towards the changes in epistemolo2v and historiography to which Stephen Bann draws our attention in The Clothing of Clio.91  Goethe foreshadowed nothing; but in the trajectory of this argument, which draws its evidence from a two-hundred-year time-span, the scene he wrote points to the missing term of Bann’s argument, which is that loss and death, and the ways in which they were thought and imagined, were connected with the idea of growth and its necessary cessation. Growth, most apparent in the young of the species, was observed, written about and theorised most consistently in connection with childhood. History and childhood, as ways of thinking and ways of knowing, both strenuously attempted to delimit and resist the implications of growth, and both ways of thought pushed these questions to the interior. The vast, historicised world was turned inside, so that history itself might be de-historicised, removed from the time that allowed growth and decay, so that they might be over­come, in the lost and - crucially - timeless place within. Bann shows nineteenth-century history-writing attempting to triumph over the terrible implications of history itself; and childhood, as a personification of vast tracts of evolutionary and cultural history, was a similar kind of strategy.  Moreover, the agenda of emergent psychoanalysis was set by conceptualisations of childhood made familiar by evolutionary thought, and by the questions of growth, time and death that had been raised by physiological cell theory over the preceding half-century. Part of the purpose of this chapter has been to understand the idea of the unconscious as a meta-theory of childhood which drew on the two currents of scientific thought that have been outlined, those of evolutionary theory and physiology. To understand the ways in which these ideas were employed in nineteenth-century society we need a clearer conception of childhood’s - and indeed Mignon’s - meaning in nineteenth-century culture, for we have not yet exhausted use of her.


1    See Theresa Brennan, The Interpretation of the Flesh:  Freud and Femininity, Routledge, 1992.

2    As David Bakan found 'background' inadequate to explain the stunning insight that the 'secret' of human existence which the Oedipus complex depicts is sexual in nature.  Bakan then asked the question why 'if the scientific background with which Freud was intimately acquainted does not provide us with any cogent clue to the question of the origins of psychoanalysis, what other hypothesis might be advanced?'  David Bakan, Sigmund Freud and the Jewish Mystical Tradition (1958), Free Association Books, 1990, p. 10.

3    Harry Elmer Barnes, A History of Historical Writing, Dover, New York, 1963.  J.R Hale, The Evolution of British HistoriographyFrom Bacon to Namier, Macmillan, 1967.  F.M Bernard, 'Natural Growth and Purposive Development:  Vico and Herder', History and Theory, 18 (1979), pp. 16-36.  Philippa Levine, The Amateur and the Professional.  Antiquarians, historians and Archaeologists in Victorian Britain, 1838-1886, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1986.  Christina Crosby, The Ends of History.  Victorians and 'The Woman Question', Routledge, 1991, pp.3-6.

4    'By far the most pervasive paradigm in the nineteenth century is the parallel between the life of the individual and the life-cycle of civilisations.  Both were expressions of the deep-seated organicism of the age, and the discovery of the parallel was often the means whereby the individual overcame his alientation and reconciled himself with the world'  A. Dwight Culler, The Victorian Mirror of History, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1985, p. 280.

5    Franco Moretti, The Way of the World.  The Bildungsroman in European Culture, Verso, 1987, pp. 15-73.

6    Ibid., pp. 6-7.

7    Crosby, Ends of History, pp. 69-78.

8    Ibid., pp. 2,9.

9    Ibid., p. 9.

10  See above, pp. 2-3.

11  Crosby, Ends of History, pp. 72-3. 

12  Peter Brooks, The Melodramatic Imagination.  Balzac, Henry James, Melodrama and the Mode of Excess, Yale University Press, 1976, p.xiii.

13  Ibid., p. 4.

14  Ibid., pp. 202, 5.

15  Crosby, Ends of History, p. 8.

16  Peter Bowler, The Non-Darwinian Revolution.  Reinterpreting a Historical Myth, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland, 1988, pp.4-5, 94-7.

17  Ibid., pp.133-6.  Maurice Mandelbaum, History, and Reason.  A Study in Nineteenth Century Thought, Johns Hopkins Press, Baltimore, Maryland, 1971, pp.41-138.

18  William Coleman, Biology in the Nineteenth Century.  Problems of Forms, Function and Transformation, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1977, pp.a7-9.  For an older account of historians and cultural anthropologists adopting evolutionary structures of explanation, see Harry Elmer Barnes, A History of Historical Writing, Dover, New York, 1963, pp.9, 331-5.

19  Coleman, Biology, p. 9.

20  Stephen Bann, The Clothing of Clio. A Study of the Representation of History in Nineteenth Britain and France, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1984.

21  Ibid., p. 14.  Emphasis in original.

22  Barnes, A History, p. 245.  Leopold von Ranke, The Secret of World History.  Selected Writings on the Art and Science of History, ed.  Roger Wines, Fordham University Press, New York, 1981, p. 58.  Introduction to the History of the Latin and Teutonic Nations, 1494-1514 (1824), trans. P.A. Ashworth, Bell, 1887, p. 380, where events are described as happening 'in harmony with their nature'.  But this English translation omitted the Preface of 1874 that employed the iconic phrase.

23  Bann, Clothing of Clio, pp. 15-16.

24  Ibid., p. 15.

25  Carl E. Schorske, 'History and the Study of Culture', New Literary History, 21:2 (Winter 1990), pp. 407-20.  Carl E. Schorske, Fin-de-Siecle Vienna:  Politics and Culture, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1979.

26  Charles Langlois and Chalres Seignobos, Introduction to the Study of History,  Duckworth, 1898, pp.302-3.  Introduction aux etudes historiques was a manual of historical technique immediately translated from the French and that remained a standard text in higher education, in Britain at least, for the next twenty years.

27  Gillian Beer, Darwin's Plots.  Evolutionary Narrative in Darwin, George Eliot and Nineteenth Century Fiction, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1983, p. 42.  See also Bowler, Non-Darwinian, pp. 23-4, 26-7.

28  Beer, Darwin's Plots, p. 43.

29  Ibid., pp. 111-12.

30  John Draper, Human Physiology, Statistical and Dynamical; or the Conditions and Course of the Life of Man (1856), Harper, New York, 1868, pp. 538-51, 602-37; p. 550.  History of the Intellectual Development of Europe, 2 vols, Bell Daldy, 1864, vol. 2, p. 388.  See Barnes, A History, pp.9, 334-5.

31  Draper, History, vol. 1, p 17.

32  Hugh Cunningham, The Children of the Poor.  Representations of Childhood since the Seventeenth Century, Blackwell, Oxford, 1991, pp. 123-5.

33.  Beer, Darwin's Plots, p. 119.

34  Frank Fulloway, Freud.  Biologist of the Mind, Basic Books, New York, 1979, pp. 243-51.  Cunningham, Children, pp. 196-7.  John R. Morss, The Biologising of Childhood.  Developmental Psychology and the Darwinian Myth, Lawrence Erlbaum, Hove, 1990, pp. 11-23.  Charles Darwin, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, Murray, 1873, pp. 13, 147-367, passim.  'The Biographical Sketch of an Infant', Mind, 2 (July 1877), pp. 285-94.

35.  George Romanes, Mental Evolution in Man, Kegan Paul, 1888, p. 7. See Sulloway, Freud, p. 247.

36  Romanes, Mental Evolution, p. 197.

37  Ibid., p. 192.

38  Ibid., p. 238.

39  Ibid., p. 432.

40  Ibid., p. 431.

41  Sulloway, Freud, p. 247.

42  Ibid., p. 247.  Sigmund Freud, 'Analysis of a Phobia in a Five-year Old Boy' (1909), in Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, vol. 10, Hogarth Press, 1955, pp. 3-149.

43  Sulloway, Freud, p. 245.  Sigmund Freud, 'Introductory Lectures on Psycho-analysis (Part III)' (1916-1917), in Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, vol. 16, Hogarth Press, 1963, pp. 392-411, p. 399.

44  Sulloway, Freud, p. 250; pp. 243-51.  Morss, Biologising, pp. 37-49.

45  Sulloway, Freud, p. 250.  Mark James Baldwin, Mental Development in the Child and the Race, Macmillan, New York, 1893.  Sigmund Freud, Briefe an Wilhelm Fleiss (Letters to Wilhelm Fliess), 1887-1904, ed. Jeffrey Masson, Fischer, Frankfurt, 1988, p. 299.  Letter dated 5 November 1897.  See also Steven Kern, 'Freud and the Discovery of Childhood Sexuality', History of Childhood Quarterly, 1 (1973), pp. 117-41; 'Freud and the Birth of Child Psychiatry', Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 9 (1973), pp. 360-8.

46  William Preyer, The Mind of the Child.  Part I.  The Senses and the Will (18812), Appleton, New York, 1890;  The Mind of the Child.  Part II.  The Development of the Intellect (1882), Appleton, New York, 1890.  James Sully, Studies of Childhood, Longmans, 1896.  Carl Groos, The Play of Man (1899), trans. E.L. Baldwin, Appleton, New York, 1901.  Baldwin, Mental Development.  Sigmund Freud, 'Three Essays on the theory of Sexuality' (1905), in Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, vol. 7, Hogarth Press, 1953, pp. 125-245.

47  Preyer, Mind of the Child, Volume 1, p. xv.  See also Sigmund Freud, 'A Note upon the Mystic Writing pad' (1925), in Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, vol. 19, Hogarth Press, 1961, pp. 227-32.

48  Cunningham, Children, pp. 197-9.  See also Carolyn Steedman, The Tidy House, Virago, 1982, pp. 85-7; p. 230, n. 5 J.H. Muirhead, 'The Founders of Child Study in England', Paidologist, 2:2 (July 1900), pp. 114-24.  John C. Cavanagh, 'Early Developmental Theories:  A Brief Review of Attempts to Organise Developmental Data prior to 1925', Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 17 (1981), pp. 38-47.  Louise N. Wilson, 'Bibliography of Child Study', Pedagogical Seminary 5:4 (1898), pp. 541-89.  (This journal published an annual bibliography of recent work in child study from 1898 to 1907.)  See also William S. Monroe, 'The Status of Child Study in Europe', Pedagogical Seminary, 6:3 (1899), pp. 372-81.  Kate Stevens, 'Child Study in Great Britain', Pedagogical Seminary, 13:2 (1906), pp. 245-9.

49  See W.B. Drummond, An Introduction to Child Study, Arnold, 1907, pp. 4, 43-9, where he explains how, over the previous thirty years, philologists had turned to 'baby linguistics' in expectation of gaining a better understanding of 'the origins of human speech'.

50  James Sully, Children's Ways.  Being Selections from the Author's 'Studies of Childhood', Longman, 1897, pp. 68-9.

51  Ibid., pp. 70-1.

52  Ibid., p. 73-5.

53  Preyer, Mind of the Child, vol. 1, pp. 107-8, 209-10.

54  Ibid., vol. 2, pp. 209-10.

55  Sulloway, Freud, p. 111.  Sigmund Freud, 'Heredity and the Aetiology of the Neuroses' (1896) and 'Further Remarks on the Neuro-Psychoses of Defence' (1896), in Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, vol. 3, Hogarth Press, 1962, pp. 141-56, pp. 157-85.  

56  Sulloway, Freud, pp. 141-56, 159-85.

57  J.M. Masson, The Assault on Truth:  Freud's Suppression of the Seduction Theory (1984), Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1985.  See also Sulloway, Freud, pp. 110-113.

58  Sigmund Freud, 'The Interpretation of Dreams' (1899, 1900), in Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, vol. 5, Hogarth press, 1955, p. 620.

59  Sigmund Freud, 'On the Sexual Theories of Children' (1908), and 'Family Romances' (1908), in Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, vol. 9, Hogarth press, 1959, pp. 205-26, 235-41.

60  Sigmund Freud, 'Screen Memories' (1899), in Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, vol. 3, Hogarth press, 1962, pp. 301-22.

61  Jacqueline Rose, The Case of Peter Pan, or, the Impossibility of Children's Fiction, Macmillan, 1985, p. 12.

62  Michael S. Roth, Psychoanalysis as History:  Negation and Freedom in Freud, Cornell University press, Ithaca, New York, 1987, pp. 75-124.

63  Siegfried Bernfeld, 'Freud's Earliest Theories and the School of Helmholtz', Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 13 (1944), pp. 341-62.  Peter Amacher, 'Freud's Neurological Education and Its Influence on Psychoanalytic Theory', Psychological Issues.  Monograph 16 (vol. 4, no. 4), International Universities Press, new York, 1965.

64  Ernst Wilhelm von Brucke, Vorlesungen uber Physiologie (Lectures on Physiology), 2 vols, Braumuller, Vienna, 1874.

65  Bernfeld, 'Freud's Earliest Theories', p. 350.  Sigmund Freud, 'Psychoanalysis:  Freudian School', Encyclopedia Britannica, 14th edition, Encyclopaedia Britannica Company, 1929, vol. 18, pp. 672-4.

66  This is a quoatation of Brucke's famous 'materialist manifesto' of 1842, when he and other young researchers had sworn to 'put into power this truth . . . In those cases which cannot at the time be explained by these forces, one either ha to find the specific way or form of their action by means of the physical mathematical method, or to assume new forces inherent in matter, reducible to the force of attraction and repulsion' (quoted in Sulloway, Freud, p. 14).  Bernfeld, 'Freud's Earliest Theories,' p. 348.

67  Sulloway, Freud, p. 113.

68  Sigmund Freud, 'Project for a Scientific Psychology' (1895), in Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, vol. 1, Hogarth Press, 1966, pp. 281-97; p. 297.

69  Ibid., p. 297.

70  Ibid., pp. 299-302.

71  Sigmund Freud, 'Beyond the Pleasure Principle' (1920), in Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, vol. 18, Hogarth Press, 1950, pp. 3-64.

72  Ibid., pp. 36, 38.

73  Masson, Assault on Truth.

74  Larry Wolff, Postcards from the End of the World:  An Investigation into the Mind of Fin-de-Siecle Vienna, Collins, 1988.

75  Freud, 'The Interpretation of Dreams,', p. 620.

76  Sigmund Freud, 'Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria' (1905), in Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, vol. 7, Hogarth press, 1953, pp. 3-122.  'From the History of an Infantile Neurosis' (1918), in Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, vol. 17, Hogarth Press, 1955, pp. 1-123.

77  Freud 'Infantile Neurosis', pp. 54-6.

78  Roth, Psychoanalysis, p. 75.

79  Ibid., pp. 41,61.

80  Ibid., p. 61.

81  Beer, Darwin's Plots, p. 108.

82  Ibid., pp. 111-12.

83  Draper, Human Physiology, p. 548.

84  Ibid., p. 549.

85  Draper, History, vol. 1, pp. 13-14.

86  Draper, Human Physiology, p. 550.

87  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Wilhelm Meister's Years of Apprenticeship, translated by H.M. Waidson, six volumes, Calder, 1977.  References are made in the text to the volume and page of this edition.  Mignon rapidly sketeches a variety of stances here.  See the figures of Horror, Terror and Reproach in Henry Siddons, Practical Illustrations of Rhetorical Gesture and Action (1822), Benjamin Blom, New York, 1968.  Practical Illustrations from a Work on the Same Subject by M. Engel, Phillips, 1807.  See Johann Jacob Engel, Ideen zu einer mimik (1785), and Leman Thomas Rede, The Road to the Stage, or the Performer's Preceptor, Joseph Smith, 1827, pp. 79-80, 86-7, 93.  Also see George Grant, An Essay on the Science of Acting.  By a Veteran Stager, Cowie & Strange, 1828, pp. 120-7, 153-5.

88  See above, p. 22.

89  Briefwechsel zwischen Schiller und Goethe, 3 vols, Deutsche Bibliothek, Berlin, n.d. Schiller to Goethe, Letteer 180, 2 July 1796, trans. Richard Parker.  Hereafter Goethe-Schiller Correspondence.  See Moretti, Way of the World, p. 47.

90  Moretti, Way of the World, pp. 6-8.

91  See above, pp. 80-81.

Reprinted with permission, from the book Strange Dislocations,  Childhood and the Idea of Human Interiority, 1780-1930, by Carolyn Steedman, Harvard University Press, 1995. 


Carolyn Steedman is Professor of History at the University of  Warwick, UK. Her current work is on servants in the eighteenth century, and the questions of legal regulation and social relationship that they raise for the modern historian. Her article on  `Servants, and their Relationship to the Unconscious', will be published  in the Journal of British Studies in the summer of 2003. The jokes - very bad jokes - that employers told about their servants revealed much more than anxiety about their domestic presence. 
Her most recent book was
Dust, published by Rutgers University Press at the end of 2002. Among her other books (apart from Strange Dislocations, which is extracted from here) are Childhood, Culture and Class in Britain. Margaret McMillan (1990), The Radical Soldier's Tales (1988) and Landscape for a Good Woman (1986).