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What’s left of sexologist Krafft-Ebing’s personal collection of erotica

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Meanwhile, back at the Krafft-Ebing household.
“Ah, Richard, there you are—where have you been?”
“My dearest, I’ve been out…er…shopping.”
“Shopping? I hope you’ve not been buying any more of those dirty postcards with images of sexual congress and strange and unnatural fetishes.”
“Well, em, yes, as a matter of fact, I have.”
“But darling, you promised...”
“I know, I know, but these images of sexual congress and strange and unnatural fetishes are essential for my scientific research!”
“Your scientific research?”
“Yes, my sweet. These are not merely dirty postcards—these are prime examples of diverse sexual practices, which are essential research for the book I am writing.”
“Oh, I see. Well, I suppose that’s all right then.”
“Yes, it certainly is. Now, if you will kindly excuse me, I must…er…examine these new specimens… in private.”

I am sure it was never like that, but then again who knows? As Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing (1840-1902) certainly did have a fine excuse for collecting “French postcards” and assorted erotica during his lifetime. This Austro-German psychiatrist took a keen interest in all aspects of human sexual behavior and wrote an early pioneering book on the subject called Psychopathia Sexualis in 1886. This tome was intended as “a medico-forensic study,” a kind of reference book to be used by psychiatrists or as he described it: “men engaged in serious study in the domains of natural philosophy and medical jurisprudence.” Krafft-Ebing’s study popularized the terms “sadism,” “masochism” and “fetishism,” and was the first medical science book to examine homosexuality, bi-sexuality, necrophilia, pederasty, coprophilia, bestiality, transvestism, and exhibitionism.

However, some of his ideas reflected the mores of the day rather than objective scientific investigation—for example, he considered any non-procreational sex as “a perversion of the sex drive.”

“With opportunity for the natural satisfaction of the sexual instinct, every expression of it that does not correspond with the purpose of nature,—i.e., propagation,—must be regarded as perverse.”

He also thought homosexuality was an “inversion of the brain” caused during pregnancy. So he was far more vanilla than his personal collection of erotica might suggest.

Psychopathia Sexualis was of major importance in its day—but was quickly superseded by the work of an Austrian neurologist, the cocaine-injecting Sigmund Freud, whose studies into sex, dreams and human behavior made him the father of psychoanalysis.

This rather small selection of postcards and photographs is (apparently) nearly all that remains of Krafft-Ebing’s personal collection of erotica. The images deal with transvestism, with some reference to S&M, and mainly feature one particular individual. It is unknown who any of the people are, though two are rather fun examples of the infamous dirty or “French” postcard, which were popular across Europe from the 1880s onward.
 
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More from Krafft-Ebing’s personal collection of erotica, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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04.30.2015
09:34 am
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The remarkable rabbits of Sigmund Freud’s niece
03.10.2015
01:50 pm
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These remarkable dreamlike images come from a 1924 book that came out in Germany called Buch der Hasengeschichten (“Book of Rabbit Stories”). The author published under the name Tom Seidmann-Freud, but her given name was Martha Gertrud Freud—her mother, Maria Freud, who went by “Mitzi,” was one of Sigmund Freud’s five sisters. Martha was born in Vienna in 1892 but her family moved to Berlin in 1898. As a teenager she adopted the name “Tom.” In 1920 she met a writer named Jakob Seidmann, whom she married two years later.
 

Tom Seidmann-Freud
 
In 1924 Seidmann-Freud published Buch der Hasengeschichten through the Peregrin Verlag (Peregrin Publishing Company). Over the next few years, she published a number of incredibly distinctive children’s books, the most famous of which is Die Fischreise (The Fish’s Journey) of 1923. As Marjorie Ingall writes in Tablet, “She hung out with Berlin’s avant-garde crowd, as well as with her family’s academic and Zionist friends. … Her style involved outlining folk-art-y, simple illustrations precisely in ink, then filling them in with watercolors. She frequently used stencils and paint together in a bright, lively technique called pochoir.”

In the space of few months, both Tom and Jakob committed suicide for reasons stemming from financial troubles. Sources differ on the exact reason—German Wikipedia says blandly that they had founded Peregrin Verlag, which ran into difficulties when the global financial crisis that started in 1929 arrived. Ingall isolates the problem with a separate venture called Ophir Verlag, which was to be a publishing company specializing in Hebrew books for children. That story involves a third party named Chaim Nachman Bialik, whose failure to live up to his obligations led to their suicides. Ingall cites a letter from 1925, suggesting that the money problems had been going on for a while, although the culpability of Bialik is simply not established in her account. Whatever the reason, it was clearly financial in nature; Jakob hanged himself in October 1929 and, now suffering from depression, Tom died of an overdose of sleeping pills in February 1930.
 

 
According to Ingall, during the Nazi regime her children’s books became destroyed in great numbers as part of the purge of Jewish authors—we’re lucky that her works survived the Third Reich, thanks for Seidmann-Freud’s family members as well as art lovers. 

Will Schofield calls the book “whimsically apocalyptic,” which seems entirely apropos—I’m a little puzzled for his use of the term “rabbit dreams,” which seems a little misleading. Seidmann-Freud was trained as a Jugendstil artist, and her vibrant, imaginative, purposefully “flat” images definitely have a powerful, untethered, dreamlike quality all their own. 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
via 50 Watts

Posted by Martin Schneider
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03.10.2015
01:50 pm
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Writers are curious people: A rare interview with author Robertson Davies

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Robertson Davies’ itinerant childhood in Canada meant he never felt he belonged.  It gave him a certain ruthlessness and a watchful quality, which made him more agreeable towards the solitary toil of writing.

His father was a newspaperman, a publisher and editor, who became a politician. To escape from under his father’s strong and domineering personality, Roberston decided to focus on his own strengths and ambitions. At first he decided to be an actor, and then moved to England to study at Oxford University. He returned to Canada and worked for twenty years as a newspaperman. At nights he started writing the plays and books that made him one of the twentieth century’s most respected writers.

At the time of this interview in 1973, Davies had completed Fifth Business and The Manticore, the first 2 volumes of his brilliant Deptford Trilogy, and was working on the third World of Wonders. The trilogy hangs on one incident that has dramatic and far-reaching consequences on a group of townspeople at the turn of the 20th century.

Davies was a genuinely learned man and his novels are filled with jokes, allusions, references and themes, that give bountiful pleasure to reading his books.

In this interview, you will find him gently poking fun at himself and other scribes with this description of his trade: 

‘Writers are curious people, in that they tend to be withdrawn, they tend to be rather grumpy and unhappy, they tend to take offense very readily, and they tend to harbor grievances more than a great many people do, and they tend to be hypochondriacs.’

Davies had a great interest in psychology. He was influenced by Jung, but thought Freud had a dreadful reductive quality. Still he felt neither gave a full or satisfactory answer to what is experienced in life.

This interview wanders around its subject, encompassing his acting, his father, his childhood, his writing, his journalism, and his academic life. It is a rare look at one of fiction’s most intelligent writers.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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08.12.2012
08:08 pm
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Sigmund Freud’s ‘thinking cap’
09.20.2010
03:30 pm
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Hand-sculpted illustration by artist Jessica Fortner.

Freud Puts On His Thinking Cap

(via EPICponyz)

Posted by Tara McGinley
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09.20.2010
03:30 pm
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