Words from an Old Friend

Sigmund Freud couldn’t be my patient. It would be impossible for many reasons. He was dead. He never had a psychoanalyst, except for himself. And I wasn’t a psychoanalyst. But I wasn’t writing about reality, or was I? These sentences were real to me, imagination was its own reality, and in that imaginative reality I could listen to Freud’s words from the couch. Or I could read his letters as if each one were a psychoanalytic session’s worth of free associations. I would read and then I would write about that reading experience. Together, reading and writing would create a new text, this one. Freud’s letters wouldn’t be my only creative source. It couldn’t be an accident that over the years I’d accumulated just over twenty volumes of psychoanalytic correspondence, in all but two of them Freud being one of the correspondents. Most of the volumes were in Spanish translation, which I’d bought in Madrid during the years I’d lived there. Time had seemed to disappear. Minutes, hours, days, months, and years had passed without my discovering how to write as the client in therapy that I’d been for years and as the psychotherapist that I’d trained to be in my early thirties. How could I read one of these letters as if it were the associations of a patient on the couch? And what kind of narrative could I write about it? Imagination would provide answers or clues to these questions. What was I waiting for? Where did this voice come from? We’re waiting for you, which sounded as if many voices had joined together to speak as one. I’d already selected two of the more than twenty volumes of correspondence, and now I had to read. Was that all I had to do? Another task awaited me. The client and patient in me wanted to speak: What you write will be your reading impressions, written in a free-associative style. Perhaps the task was to get to know the patient in me. It seemed as if we hadn’t spoken in a while.

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