More Courtship Letters of Freud and Martha Bernays


Rita K. Teusch, PhD


Book Essay on Sigmund Freud, Martha Bernays: Die Brautbriefe, Band 3. “Warten in Ruhe und Ergebung, Warten in Kampf und Erregung” (The Letters during Their Engagement, Vol. 3. “Waiting Quietly and with Surrender, Waiting Struggling and with Exasperation”). Edited by Gerhard Fichtner, Ilse Grubrich-Simitis, Albrecht Hirschmüller, and Wolfgang Kloft. Frankfurt a.M.: S. Fischer Verlag, 2015, 620 pp., €49.40.


In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

This third volume (of a projected five) of the unabridged courtship correspondence (more than 1500 letters in all) between Freud and his wife-to-be Martha Bernays contains 306 of their letters written over a period of eight months between January and September 1884, eighteen months into their four-year separation while engaged. The subtitle of this book is a quote from one of Freud’s letters (732F) in which he refers to an earlier letter from Bernays (729B). In this letter Freud eloquently and poignantly describes and analyzes their different temperaments, the history of their involvement, and how he has grown more patient and now appreciates Bernays’s emotional independence and her ability to say no to him at times. The different modes of “waiting” described in the quote refer to the complexity of their internal struggles with “waiting for the other” and highlight their differences in temperament, with Bernays overall being more inclined to wait patiently and with surrender, whereas Freud could experience waiting as an exasperating internal struggle projected onto her during times of increased stress.<…>

Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, February 2017, 65/1: 111-125.

Link to Online Publication (fullext can be downloaded at or requested from the library).

Rita K. Teusch’s book essay on Volume II of the courtship letters published in JAPA 62/2: 325-343 is featured here.


Previous Posts:

John C. Foehl, PhD (2016). Hedgehogs at the Gate: A Review of Metaphor and Fields: Common Ground, Common Language and the Future of Psychoanalysis edited by S. Montana Katz. New York, NY: Routledge, 2013. 244 pp. Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 52/3: 434–456.

Alfred S. Margulies, MD (2016). Avatars of Desire and the Question of Presence: Virtual and Transitional Spaces Meet their Liminal Edge – from Pygmalion to Spike Jonze’s Her, and BeyondInternational Journal of Psychoanalysis, 97/6: 1697–1708.

Lawrence J. Brown, PhD. (2016). The Capacity to Tell a Joke: Reflections from Work with Asperger Children. International Journal of Psychoanalysis. 97/6:1609–1625.

Nancy Chodorow, PhD. Twentieth-Century Psychoanalysis. In The Routledge Handbook of Psychoanalysis in the Social Sciences and Humanities edited by Anthony Elliott and Jeffrey Prager. Routledge 2016, chapter 11, p. 185-205.

Axel Hoffer, MD & Dan Buie, MD. (2016). Helplessness and the Analyst’s War against Feeling it. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 76/1:1-17.

Fred Busch, PhD. (2016). The Search for Psychic TruthPsychoanalytic Quarterly, 85/2: 339-360.

Daniel Jacobs, MD. (2016). Clinical supervision of psychoanalytic psychotherapy. Edited by Jill Savege Scharff. London: Karnac Books, 2014, xvi + 176 pp., $39.95 paperback. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 64/2:431-437.

Judy L. Kantrowitz, PhD (2016). Appreciation of the Importance of the Patient–Analyst “Match”. Psychiatry, 79:1, 23-28.

Click here to see a full archive of featured papers. All articles can be requested from the library.