Thursday, June 17, 2021

HYSTERICAL GIRL (2020) & Dora: A Teen, Young Girl, & German Man | Freud's Age-Gap Case Study

the screenwriter, producer and director of 
Hysterical Girl (2020), summarized her short documentary for the New York Times as follows:

The short documentary above re-examines one of Sigmund Freud’s five major psychological case histories — the only one he produced of a female patient. “Hysterical Girl” uses a feminist lens to imagine Dora, the name Freud used at the turn of the 20th century to protect his subject’s identity, as a girl today. In the film, she tells her [fictional] version of events, alongside Freud’s own words. [Emphasis added]

Dora was 17 when her parents brought her to therapy after she accused a family friend of sexual assault [sic]. “Please,” Dora’s father asked Freud, “bring her to reason.” During the 11-week treatment, Freud chipped away at the case: Why would you continue to see the man you say assaulted you? Are you out for revenge? Did you secretly want it? A century later, the questions women face in similar circumstances haven’t changed much.

If you haven't read Freud's case study, it's important to emphasize that:

  • Novack: "[....] uses a feminist lens to imagine Dora."
  • Novack: "[...] tells her [fictional] version of events, alongside Freud’s own words."
  • Dora did not report that she was sexually assaulted; however, the family friend made a "sexual proposition"

And by comparing Dora's family friend to the likes Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh, and Jeffrey Epstein, Novack was being revealing when she wrote that: “Hysterical Girl” uses a feminist lens to imagine Dora [...]," because unlike Freud, one would be hard pressed to find a feminist whom would (openly) share that a nymphet could possibly be attracted to an older man.

Let's take a closer look at Freud's version of events. (Interestingly, nymphets typically have to be convinced that they were groomed and victimized, but Freud attempted to reassure Dora, whose real name was Ida Bauer, of just the opposite.)

Here's the event that prompted Ida's parent, whom married when her father was 27 and her mother was 18, to have her visit Freud:  

In summer of 1989, 16-year-old Ida and her family went to a lakeside resort to visit the Zellenkas family. Ida told her parents that during the visit, Herr Zellenka made a sexual proposition to her, which caused Ida to slap his face and run away. 

Subsequently, Ida's parents found a letter in her desk in which she stated that she couldn't bear living. Soon after, Ida fainted, she suffered a bout of amnesia, and her father took her to Freud, "Please try to bring her round to a better way of thinking."

Initially, Herr Zellenka denied the allegations, and Frau Zellenka reported that Ida: "[...] showed an interest in sexual matters and nothing else [...]". And that the nymphet had been reading Mantegazza's Physiology of Love and other books of the sort. 

It turns out that Herr Zellenka had previously kissed Ida - when she was 14. #plottwist It happened after Herr Zellenka invited Ida to his shop to watch a church procession, and while they were alone, he took the opportunity to hold her close and give her kiss on the lips. Ida fled the scene but kept in contact with Herr Zellenka.

Afterwards, Herr Zellenka sent Ida flowers and "expensive presents". As mentioned in the documentary, one of the presents was a jewel box that Freud interpreted as a box that Herr Zellenka wanted Ida to place her jewels in. 

Per Freud, Ida admitted that, after the kiss but prior to the lakeside scene, she could have been in love with Herr Zellenka. So why did Ida reject Herr Zellenka's sexual proposition at the lakeside resort?

It turns out that before Herr Zellenka propositioned Ida, she learned from the governess, a young girl, that Herr Zellenka and the governess had a sexual affair that Herr ended abruptly. The governess fled once she was certain that the affair would not resume. Thus, per Freud, Ida violently rebuffed Herr's advances due to "vengeful jealousy". Ida was aghast to learn that Herr even used the same lines with the governess, "There is nothing between me and my wife."

What Novack's documentary left out is that Ida admitted to Freud that after the sexual proposition, she desired to see Herr again, because she wanted him to prove that he was "serious" and didn't intend to: "[...] toy with her feelings as he did with the governess."

Interestingly, after his sessions with Ida, Freud came to, among others, the following conclusions:

  • Ida practiced "childhood masturbation"
  • Ida had a "[...] deeply rooted homosexual love for Frau K [i.e., Herr Zellenka]" whom Ida opined had an "enchantingly white body"
  • Ida had a "defloration fantasy" that starred Herr Zellenka
And there were some interestings footnote in the slim volume e.g., a 14-year-old girl, who suffered from "alarming hysterical vomiting", shared with Freud that she had been "[...] masturbating for many years with a strong flux of flour albus* [*a whitish vaginal discharge] (which [per Freud] was clearly linked to her vomiting).

Lastly, we want to be perfectly clear and state that we don't condone Herr Zellenka's behavior, because men should avoid kissing, without consent, and men should avoid sexually propositioning any woman - of any age. 

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