Requiem for Dora: The First Hysteric

She represents a failed analysis. A masturbation fantasy for Sigmund Freud. He even borrows her pseudonym from a female servant, proving exactly what he thinks about her, submissive. Her real name was Ida Bauer. Dora is a fictional character and a sacrificial lamb to the male gaze. Her main symptom, loss of voice, belies the role that women were cast to play in the 1900s, mainly to keep quiet and remain the Angel of the House. Being put up on a pedestal does nothing except force one to fall at great heights, once a lack of perfection is discovered. This is clear within Dora’s circumstances.

This case plays out with Dora’s father and mother, who live within a marriage without desire, passion or love. They have friends named Frau and Herr K. Dora’s father seeks out Frau K, to slake his lusts. Herr K, on the other hand, flirts and eventually kisses Dora. At their first interaction, she is but fourteen-years-old. She rejects him. Dora refused to be romantically compliant to her father’s friend, refuses him outright and voices his inappropriate behavior. Dora functions as a tool or replacement for Herr K’s blindness and toleration of Frau K’s affair with Dora’s father. Her father sends her to Freud for treatment for her illness.

For a mere eleven weeks, Freud treats Dora. Her rejection of his treatment leads to his obsession with her case. Freud published “Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria,” in 1905. This case study publication seems to be an act of revenge against his inability to cure Dora. He accuses her of being sex focused. In both of her dream analyses, Freud focuses on her virginity and her repulsion of Herr K. Dora is classified as hysteric by Freud. She is male fantasy at its highest: a woman who is an empty vessel only needing to be filled to be fulfilled by a male member. Of course, Dora, recovers and succeeds by being married. The only litmus test for women at the time. What’s missing is Dora’s story. The silent voice.

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