Freud’s Case Studies: The Rat Man

Instructor: Loren Dent
A Public Space
323 Dean Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217

In 1907, Sigmund Freud treated a young attorney in his late twenties named Ernst Lanzer, who was suffering from unbearable obsessive thoughts and compulsions.  The young patient was especially worried that “something terrible” would happen to two people — his father and the woman with whom he was in love.  In this course, we will carefully study Freud’s published case history of the so-called “Rat Man,” which illuminates his theories of the unconscious, of obsessional neurosis, and of psychoanalytic treatment.  Supplemental readings will be suggested, and no prior knowledge of Freud is necessary.  This will be the first in a series of classes that focus upon Freud’s most influential clinical case studies.

What the Voyage of the Beagle was to Darwin, case studies were to Freud. Freud’s case histories are more than just compelling character profiles and lively literary narratives; they are the transformational investigations that inaugurated the body of knowledge and clinical practices that became psychoanalysis, the so-called “talking cure.” Among the most fascinating and influential of these is the case of the so-called “Rat Man,” the story of one man’s obsessional compulsions that is also a provocative inquiry into the many psychological meanings of money, religion, masculinity, sado-masochism, and more. Instructor Loren Dent will guide students through a close reading of the original case history, relevant secondary literature, and reflections on the meanings of the “Rat Man” case for the development of psychoanalysis and Freud’s thought. This course offers an opportunity for an in-depth engagement with one of the foundational case histories in psychoanalysis and a watershed text in Freud’s oeuvre, and will grant a multifaceted perspective — at once historical, literary, and clinical — otherwise unavailable outside of the context of formal psychoanalytic training.

Course Schedule

Tuesday, 7-10pm
June 30 — July 21, 2015
4 weeks

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