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Sean Singer 

Freud Knows


“it’s choking me.”—Freud’s dream, July 23-24, 1895

Nosebleeds, stomach cramps, depression, excessive masturbation…Emma Eckstein sought Freud’s help, who made a diagnosis: nasal reflex neurosis. She had brown hair, almond eyes, and lavender candles. This is known as “hysteria,” called by all as “mutterweh” or “vapors.”

Freud referred her to his friend Wilhelm Fleiss, who sought to remove the turbinate bone from her nose, to cure her of premenstrual depression, pangs of laughter or weeping. Drainage tube: fetid odor: sticky blood clots: hemorrhaging: flood. “Patient white, her eyes bulged.”

This is known as “honeymoon rhinitis,” known to all as sneezing or nasal congestion during sex, or “erectile tissue in the nose.” He again packed her cavity with gauze, and Freud felt sick; he drank a bottle of water: a small glass of cognac. Walnut-colored liquid in a snifter.

Emma had terrible bleeding for fourteen days. “She had lost consciousness during the massive hemorrhage.” A big white patch with white-grey scabs: some curly structures. What happened? Fleiss left a piece of gauze inside her nose (enclosed while in the bud). The end it tore off.

This is called “Opfer-Schuldzuweisung,” known to all as “blaming the victim.”

Sean Singer

Sean Singer’s first book Discography won the 2001 Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize, selected by W.S. Merwin, and the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America. He is also the recipient of a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. He is a Ph.D. student in American Studies at Rutgers-Newark. He lives in Harlem, New York City.

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