chapter  5
I Don’t Understand Anything at All —Children Who Have Suffered Sexual Abuse
Pages 46

One form of sexual abuse, incest, was discussed when Freud asserted the now familiar seduction theory of neurosis in his papers “Studies on Hysteria” (Freud 1893 to 1895) and “The Aetiology of Hysteria” (1896). Freud was certain that all his patients who suffered from this disorder had been subjected to sexual seduction in childhood. But a year later, in a letter to his friend Wilhelm Fliess (1897), he renounced this view and concluded instead that his patients were talking of fantasies that had been built on incestuous wishes. Why did he reach this conclusion? He writes, “Then the surprise that in all cases, the father, not excluding my own, had to be accused of being perverse —the realization of the unexpected frequency of hysteria with precisely the same conditions prevailing in each, whereas surely such widespread perversions against children are not very probable” (p. 264).