Morning Complexities

It was intriguing to enter the mind of a neurologist. But he wasn’t only a neurologist. He was also a psychoanalyst, and he devoted much of his professional life to psychoanalysis. The letters I read this morning, in Spanish translation, by both Ernest Jones and Sigmund Freud, were about psychoanalysis. Freud was also a neurologist. I had an hour to read and drink coffee (I got up a little earlier than usual), and when I stopped reading it was August 1912. I didn’t take notes. I wanted to spend time in their minds, and the best way to do that seemed to be to read their letters as if I were a psychoanalyst listening to a patient in a free-associative manner. Freud was going to analyze Jones’s wife Loe. They traveled from Toronto to Vienna so that Loe and Freud could meet. Loe would return in October to begin the analysis. Before I stopped reading this morning (somehow, I managed to drink the mug of strong black coffee slowly enough so that I took an hour to finish it), Freud told Jones that Jung was ending their friendship, and Jones responded that Jung’s behavior showed that he wasn’t devoted enough to psychoanalysis. I was somewhat familiar with Jung’s state of mind in 1912. As I prepared breakfast and thought about the day ahead, I realized I knew very little about Ernest Jones, although I had all of the letters he and Freud wrote to each other, a biography on him (Freud’s Wizard: Ernest Jones and the Transformation of Psychoanalysis by Brenda Maddox), and his The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud, in Spanish translation. For years Jung had been my hero, and I’d thought of Jones as an ambitious extrovert, without ever reading more about him. After finishing breakfast, it occurred to me that Jones was a complex person and that the history of psychoanalysis was much more complex than I’d thought. These thoughts got lost in the flow of the rest of the morning, and what remained was the realization that I had to become more comfortable with complexity, both in my writing and in the rest of my life.

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