Georg Groddeck’s “The Book Of The It” is a key text in the history of psychoanalytical thought and the investigation of human sexual compulsion. Configured as a. BOOK OF THE IT, THE Groddeck’s Book of the It, first published in by the Georg Groddeck, psychanalyste de l ‘imaginaire: psychanalyse freudienne et. Groddeck, Georg. . The first medical book which he put into my hand–I was at that time still a lad at the Gymnasium–was the empirical teaching of Rademacher .

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The book of the it. International Universities Press, Das Buch vom Es. So, my dear, you want me to write to you, and it is to be personal or gossipy. I am not to make fine phrases serious, vook, and, georgg far as possible, scientific. For what has my humble self to do with science? The small amount one needs as a practicing physician I cannot well display to you, or you would see the holes in the gown with which, as qualified physicians, we are officially endowed.

Perhaps, however, I shall meet your wishes if I tell you why I became a doctor, and how I was led to reject the claims of science. I do not remember that as a boy I had any special liking for the profession of medicine, and I am very certain that, neither then nor later, did I bring any humanitarian feeling into it; if, as may well be, I used to deck myself out with such noble sentiments, you must look upon my lying with a lenient eye–the truth is I became a doctor just because my father was one.

He had forbidden all georf brothers to follow that career, probably because he wanted to convince himself and other people that his financial difficulties were due to a doctor’s wretched remuneration, which was certainly not the case, since his praises were sung by young and old alike and he was correspondingly rewarded.

But he liked, just as his son does, and indeed every one of us, to look for outside causes when he knew that something was out of harmony within himself.

One day he asked me–I don’t know why–whether I would not like to be a doctor, and because I looked upon this inquiry as a mark of distinction which set me above my brothers, I said yes. With that my fate was sealed, both as to my choice of a profession and as to the manner in which I have followed it, for from that moment I consciously imitated my father to such a georh that an old friend of his, when she came to know me many years later, broke out with the words: On this occasion my father related to me a story which later, when doubts arose as to my medical capacity, kept me fast to my work.

Perhaps I already heard it before, but I know that it made a deep impression upon me while I was in that exalted mood, fancying myself, like Joseph, raised above my brothers.

He had watched me, he said, when as a three-year old I was playing at dolls with my sister, a little older than myself and my constant play fellow. Lina wanted to pile still another garment on the doll and, after a long dispute, I gave in to her with the words: I have mentioned this trivial incident to you because it gives me the opportunity to speak of a propensity of mine to fall prey to anxiety about quite insignificant matters, suddenly, and without apparent cause.

As you know, anxiety is the result of a repressed wish; in that moment when I uttered the thought, “The doll will be smothered,” the wish must have been in me to kill someone represented by the doll. Who that was I do not know, but one may surmise that it was this very sister; her delicacy secured for her many privileges from my mother which I, as the baby of the family, wanted for myself.

There you have the essential quality of the doctor, a propensity to cruelty which has been just so far repressed as to be useful, and which has for its warder the dread of causing pain. It would be worth while to pursue this subtle interplay between cruelty and anxiety in mankind, for it is extremely important in life, but for the purpose of this letter it is sufficient to establish quite clearly the fact that my relation to my sister had a great deal to do with the development and with the taming of my desire to cause pain.

The Book of the It by Georg Groddeck

Our favorite game was “Mother and child,” in which the child was naughty and was slapped. My sister’s delicacy compelled us to do this gently, and the manner in which I have carried on my professional work reflects our childhood’s play. Nearly as great as my aversion to the surgeon’s bloody trade is my dislike of the assorted poisons of the pharmacopoeia, and so I came to massage and to mental treatment; these are both not less cruel, but they adapt themselves better to any particular man’s desire to suffer.

Out of the constantly changing demands made by Lina’s heart trouble upon my unconscious sensitivity, there grew the preference for dealing with chronic cases, acute illness making me impatient.

That is roughly, what I can tell you about my choice of a profession. But if you will only reflect a little, all sorts things will occur to you in connection with my attitude to science, for anyone who from childhood upwards has had his attention directed to one particular invalid will find it difficult to learn how to classify things systematically according to the rubric. And then, too, there is that very important question of imitation. My father was a heretic in medicine; he was his own authority, went his own ways, right or wrong, and showed no respect for science either in word or in deed.


I still remember how he scoffed at the hopes that were raised by the discovery of the tubercle and the cholera bacilli, and with what glee he recounted how, against all physiological teaching, he had fed an infant for a whole year on bouillon. The first medical book which he put into my hand–I was at that time still a lad at the Gymnasium–was the empirical teaching of Rademacher, and since in that book the points conflicting with scientific teaching are heavily underlined and plentifully sprinkled with marginal comments, it is no matter for surprise if already from the beginning of my studies I was disposed to doubt.

This disposition to doubt was in yet other ways deter mined.

Georg Groddeck

When I was six years old I lost for a time the exclusive companionship of my sister. She gave her affection to a school friend called Alma, and, what was terribly hard to bear, she taught our little childish sadistic games to this new friend and shut me out from them. On one solitary occasion I managed to overhear the two girls while they were at their favorite occupation of telling stories. Alma was making up a tale about an angry mother who punished her disobedient child by putting it into a privy pit one must picture for this a primitive country closet.

To this day it sticks in my memory that I did not hear the conclusion of that story. The friendship between the two little geodg came to an end, and my sister returned to me, but that period of loneliness was enough to inspire me with yhe deep bopk for the name of Alma. And here I must certainly remind you that a university calls itself Alma Mater.

That gave me a strong prejudice against science, all the greater because grlddeck term “Alma Mater” was also used of the Gymnasium in which I followed my classical studies, and where Gdoddeck suffered much that I should have to tell you of, if it were my purpose to make you understand the unfolding of my nature.

That, however, is not what is in my mind, but only the fact that I attributed all the hatred and the suffering of my school days to science, because it is more convenient to ascribe one’s depression to external events than to seek its roots in the depths of the unconscious.

Later, but only after many years, did it become clear to me that the expression “Alma Mater,” nursing mother, recalled the earliest and the hardest conflict of my life. My mother had nursed only her eldest child; at that time she was visited with a severe inflammation of the breasts which atrophied the milk glands.

My birth must have taken place a day or two earlier than was expected. In any case, the wet nurse who had been engaged for me was not yet in the house, and for three days I was scantily nourished by a woman who came twice a day in order to feed me. That did me no harm, one might think, but who can judge geoeg feelings of a suckling babe? To have to go hungry is not a kind welcome for ti newborn infant.

The book of the it

Now and then I have got to know people who have had a like experience, and even if I cannot prove that they suffered mental harm thereby, still it seems to me quite probable that they did.

And by comparison with them I think I have come off well. There is, for instance, the case of a woman–I have known her for many a year–for whom her mother conceived a dislike at her birth, and whom she did not nurse, as she had the other children, but left to a nursemaid and the bottle.

The baby, however, preferred going hungry to being suckled through a rubber tube, and so grew more and more sickly, until the doctor roused the mother out of her antipathy. From being callous she now became most attentive to her child: The youngster began to flourish and grew up a healthy woman. The mother made a pet of her and up to the time of her death, tried to win her daughter’s love, but in that daughter only hatred survives.

Her whole life had been a steady chain of enmity whose separate links are forged by revenge. She plagued her mother as long as she lived, deserted her on her deathbed, persecuted without realizing what she was doing, everyone who reminded her of her mother, and to the end of her life will be a prey to the envy which hunger bred in her.

People who hate their mothers create no children for themselves, and that is so far true that one may postulate of a childless marriage, without further inquiry, that one of the two partners is a mother hater. Whoever hates his mother, dreads to have a child of his own, for the life of man is ruled by the law, “As thou to me, so I to thee,” yet this woman is consumed by the desire to bear a child. Her gait resembles that of a pregnant woman; when she sees a suckling babe her own breasts swell, and if her friends conceive, her abdomen also becomes enlarged.

Though used to luxury and society, she went every day for years to help at a lying-in hospital, where she kept the babies clean, washed their swaddling clothes, and attended to the mothers, from whom in uncontrollable desire she would snatch the newborn infants to lay them to her empty breast. Yet she has twice married men of whom she knew in advance that they could beget no children. Her life is made up of hatred, anxiety, envy and the yearning cry of hunger for the unattainable.


The Book of the it – Georg Groddeck – Google Books

There is also a second woman who went hungry for the first few days after her birth. She has never been able to bring herself to the point of confessing a hatred of her mother, who died young, but she is incessantly tormented by the feeling that she murdered her, though she recognizes this as irrational since her mother died during an operation of which the girl knew nothing beforehand. For years she has sat in her room alone, living on her hatred for all mankind, seeing no one, spurning, hating.

To return to my own story: Have you ever pondered over the experiences of a baby who is fed by a wet nurse? The matter is somewhat complicated, at least if the child has a loving mother. On the one hand, there is that mother in whose body the baby has lain for nine months, carefree, warm, in undisturbed enjoyment.

Should he not love her? And on the other hand, there is that second woman to whose breast he is put every day, whose milk he drinks, whose fresh, warm skin he feels, and whose odor he inhales. But to which of them shall he hold? The suckling nourished by a nurse is plunged into doubt, and never will he lose that sense of doubt. His capacity for faith is shaken at its foundation, and a choice between two possibilities for him is always more difficult than for other people.

And to such a man, whose emotional life has been divided at the start, who is thereby cheated of full emotional experience, what can the phrase Alma Mater mean, but a lie to scoff at?

And knowledge will seem to him from the beginning to be useless. Life says to him, “That woman over there who does not nourish thee is thy mother and claims thee as her own; this other gives thee her breast and yet thou art not her child. But whoever is familiar with the kingdom of phantasy recognizes, at one time or another, that all science is a kind of phantasy, a specialist type, so to speak, with all the advantages and all the defects of specialization.

There are other people who do not feel at home in this realm, and of one such I will now briefly tell you.

It was not intended grovdeck he should be born, but he managed it in spite of his father and mother. So the wife’s milk dried up, and a wet nurse was procured. The little boy grew up among his happier brothers and sisters who had been nursed at their mother’s breast, but always remained a little stranger among them, as indeed he remained a stranger to his parents. And without either knowing it or wishing it, he gradually severed the bond between the parents through the pressure of their half-conscious sense of guilt, clear enough to strangers’ eyes in their peculiar treatment of their son, so that they fled from one another, and knew each other no more.

The son, however, became a doubter, his life was divided, and because he did not dare to indulge in phantasy–since he must be an honorable man geoeg his dreams were those of an outcast adventurer–he began to drink, a fate that greets many a one who has been deprived of love in babyhood.

But as in everything else, so also in his lust for drink he was divided. Only now and then, for a few weeks or a few months the feeling came over him that he must drink, and as I have followed up his wanderings to some extent, I know that some reminder of the nurse of his childhood groddek comes to his mind before he seizes the glass.

That makes me sure that he will be cured. And this or another strange thing: And because she gave his racked soul no assurance that or child might not be born who would punish him, he contracted a venereal disease and infected his wife.

So much tragedy is hidden in the lives of men!.

My griddeck draws to a close, but may I carry the story of my nurse a little further? I cannot recall her appearance. I know nothing more than her name, Bertha, the shining one. But I have a clear recollection of the day she went away. As a parting present she gave me a copper three pfennig piece, a Dreierand I know very well that instead of buying sweets with it, as she wished, I sat me down on the kitchen step geirg stone and rubbed the coin on it to groddeckk it shine.

Since that day I have been pursued by the number three. Words like trinity, triangle, triple alliance, convey something disreputable to me, and not merely the words but the ideas attached to them, yes, and the whole complex of ideas built up around them by the capricious brain of a child. For this reason, the Holy Ghost, as the Third Person of the Trinity, was already suspect to me in early childhood; trigonometry was a plague groedeck my school days, and the once highly esteemed Dreibundspolitik I banned from the beginning.