“I hate you because you threaten my ego. Love as the representative of the life impulse strives to neutralize hate. But the iron law of self-preservation compels us to hate where we love, if the ego falls into the danger of losing its independence and of experiencing pain instead of pleasure.
Our need to hate is just as great as our need to love. As there is no one that can live without love, so there is also no being who can live without hate. An individual can apparently lose his ability to love as well as his ability to hate ; then we have a parapathy [neurosis].”
When asked to think of prominent names in psychology, most likely to appear are Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. A lesser (almost obscure) name is Wilhelm Stekel – despite alongside Freud having started the Wednesday Psychological Society (Psychologische Mittwochs-Gesellschaft) which had marked the beginnings of the worldwide psychoanalytical movement.
Stekel was born March 18, 1868, in Bukovina, and had died June 25, 1940, in London, United Kingdom.
Light was shed on him by J.D. Salinger who had quoted Wilhelm Stekel in the Catcher in the Rye with this wonderful sentiment; “The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.”
I had come across Stekel’s work by chance, when I had desired to eat my lunch alone whilst in a Hypnosis certification course, which meant I had the option to wander to the nearby pizza joint, coffee shop, family restaurant, pub, or sub shop… which were all acceptable options, however the fresh air brought with it an impulse to be adventurous, and I felt that a bookshop would be ideal to seek out. Four blocks away, and about 20 minutes later, I was leaving a bookshop with an old hardcover print of Wilhelm Stekel’s Sadism and Masochism – Disorders of the Instincts and the Emotions – The Psychology of Hatred and Cruelty. During checkout the cashier had cursed me saying “You’ve got volume one, now you’ll go nuts trying to find volume 2!”
I hadn’t known what he meant at the time, though I would come to find out that it meant that the books were on the harder difficulty when it came to obtaining. Yet Sadism and Masochism provided so much meat of Stekel’s thought process, and the patients he would work with were endlessly fascinating to read about. The combination of poetic styling alongside the case studies, I had found a goldmine to wrap my head around.
The first chapter outlined the Polyphony of Thought: “Only careful observation in analysis reveals that there are two kinds of thoughts : such as are uttered and thought out (comprehended in words) and others which withdraw themselves from our observation before they are put into words. The question arises whether these latter ones may be considered as thoughts. They actually represent thought in statu nascendi; that is, thought which has not yet found words. Thus we would deduce that there is thinking without words, which Apfelbach calls “feeling thought.” This seems to contradict our experience. We are accustomed to designate as thought only that which can be verbally expressed.
We will not go more fully here into the question whether this thinking without words is really to be called feeling thought. Such thinking can be observed in many states. It manifests itself as thinking in images. There are patients who, asked to give their free associations, immediately produce a series of pictures which plainly represent preliminary stages of thought. The symbolic value of these images, which actually hide in the form of figures important affects, can be explained only by analysis. Every one of these images stands for a thought in statu nascendi.”
The solidification of the idea of the Polyphony of Thought would be well to apply to day dreams, astral travel, meditation visions, and what stood to me as most significant for therapeutic use: “Past Life Regression” in hypnosis.
From Google Answers; “In Freudian psychology, the pleasure principle is the instinctual seeking of pleasure and avoiding of pain in order to satisfy biological and psychological needs. Specifically, the pleasure principle is the driving force guiding the id.” (That is the part of the psyche residing in the unconscious, our instinctual nature.)
Stekel writes that there is no separation between the reality principle and the pleasure principle, that there is always a present struggle of one against the other. As he conceived it, thought is a stream of which we see merely the surface: “Persons who wish to live out there amoral imperative (the criminal, the Don Juan, the Messalina), show clearly an ethical counterpoint. In asocial sadistic individuals, inner thinking may represent the voice of social morality.”
Another fantastic passage: “These inner voices often do not come into consciousness. It has surprised every analyst that parapathics, who tend to daydreams and fantasies, cannot remember these daydreams. Many repress the dreams at the moment when they turn from the dream life to reality. Others, however, assert that they do not know what they are thinking, that they shut out their thoughts and are “not thinking anything.” A nirvana of thought is impossible. There is no moment of rest in the work of the brain. One idea joins itself to another. Daydreamers hearken inwardly ; they think without words ; they permit other voices to sound without grasping their melody. They hear only accords or individual tones. Their thought proceeds perhaps without verbal conceptions, perhaps only in symbolic images behind which the thoughts are concealed.”
Though what served me most insight into dream analysis, and what I aim to touch upon for articles in the future on past-life regression, was The Interpretation of Dreams – New Developments and Technique, a book I will also write solely about in the near-future.
Wilhelm Stekel was a brilliant mind, and his work should be lifted from the dust which has covered it.