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Thanopulos, S. (2005). Leonardo's phantasy and the importance of Freud's slip: The role of... Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 86:395-412.

(2005). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 86:395-412

Leonardo's phantasy and the importance of Freud's slip: The role of the analyst's phantasies in applied psychoanalysis and in the analytic relation
Sarantis Thanopulos
In his paper on Leonardo, Freud made a slip. Referring to the bird which, according to one of Leonardo's memories, tossed its tail into the painter's mouth many times when he was a child, Freud replaced kite with vulture. It is widely accepted that this slip doesn't significantly damage the whole of Freud's constructions on the paper, nevertheless, the part of his considerations relating to the meaning of vulture should be discounted. In the author's view, this part of the Leonardo paper is necessary. Thanks to the slip Freud was able to reach a comprehension which otherwise would have been unattainable. Interpretation based on the vulture made possible the configuration of a mother as daughter of the wind, as was the case not only with Leonardo's mother but also with Freud's. Interpretation of Leonardo's phantasy was achieved through Freud's unconscious identification with Leonardo and the slip adequately interpreted becomes the evidence of this. Through identification, Freud succeeded in making sense of Leonardo's memory but also in realising an indirect virile possession of his own winged mother. Freud's position as interpreting subject in his paper on Leonardo also has more general value: the analyst's knowledge about the other has a very important basis in the indirect expression of his unconscious wishes within the field of sense. The author uses clinical material in order to show how the analyst's phantasies play an important role in analytical interpretive work. At a conference in Vienna in May 1981, for the celebration of the 125th anniversary of the birth of Freud, Gombrich (1996) presented a lucid picture of the Freudian approach to art. Freud was deeply interested in understanding the subjective drive that lies at the root of artistic creation, but a good deal less in analysing the artist's ability to translate his creative drive into form, although he had his own personal theory of art. In this paper dealing with Freud's famous study on Leonardo, I shall try to show that here we have an opportunity of seeing how Freud, in his search for meaning in the artist's unconscious phantasy, succeeded in achieving an indirect realisation of one of his own unconscious wishes. Moreover, I shall try to connect this fact with a permanent aspect of the analytic relation.
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Leonardo's phantasy
For quite a long time Freud gave serious thought to writing a book on Leonardo, an artist he greatly admired, and with whom, as we know, he identified. In the course of writing the book he made good use of a novel on the life of Leonardo by the Russian writer Merezhkovsky ([1895] 1982), one which in 1907 he had already included in his list of favourite books. From among the other sources Freud consulted, the most relevant were: Marie Herzfeld's (1906) Leonardo da Vinci: Der Denker, Forscher und Poet; Nino Smiraglia Scognamiglio's (1900) Ricerche e documenti sulla giovinezza di Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1482) and Giorgio Vasari's ([1550] 1998) Vita di Leonardo da Vinci. Freud's analytical work begins with a memory of Leonardo's childhood where the artist claims that while lying in his cradle a vulture prised open his lips with its tail beating several times inside his mouth. Freud correctly attributes this to a false historic memory, processed retrospectively by Leonardo in the course of his development in order to make sense of his childhood phantasies. Freud proceeds interpreting that the tail represents the penis. The scene of the bird opening the child's mouth and striking its tail inside his mouth is an image of fellatio. Behind fellatio hides the memory of sucking his mother's breast, re-elaborated as a passive homosexual phantasy. Having reached this point Freud widens his field of investigation. He recalls that in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics the word for mother was indicated by the figure of a vulture. The mother goddess was also portrayed by a vulture's head. The ancient Greeks and Romans possessed a number of texts on Egyptian civilisation which they studied with considerable scientific curiosity. They knew that the vulture was a symbol of maternity and they believed that the entire species was female; males simply did not exist. The ancient book Horapollo Nilous's Hieroglyphica contains information precious for Freud; according to ancient belief the impregnation of these birds of solely female sex came about when, at certain periods, they stopped short in flight and by exposing their vaginas permitted the wind to impregnate them. Moreover, the Fathers of the Church had appropriated the fable of the vulture to confute those who cast doubt upon the conception of the Virgin without the sexual act. Hence, according to Freud's conclusion, when Leonardo (a cultivated man dedicated to literature)

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read the story of the vulture in a book of natural science, or in a text of one of the Fathers of the Church, he transformed into the false memory of the bird that pushed its tail into his mouth the phantasy of being son of his mother only, a phantasy developed during the first part of his childhood, which he spent solely with her, Leonardo being illegitimate. Leonardo's phantasy consists of his identification with the wish for a phallic, parthenogenetic mother. For Freud, the homosexual form of satisfying desire indicated here expresses narcissistic needs: The boy represses his love for his mother: he puts himself in her place, identifies himself with her, and takes his own person as a model in whose likeness he choose the new objects of his love (1910, p. 100).
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Leonardo's predilection for adolescent pupils of great beautythough, on the whole, showing little talent or capacity for independence, and whom he helped and looked after like a mother when they were illmay be explained in this context by Leonardo's tendency to love only substitutive figures and revivals of himself in childhoodboys whom he loves in the way in which his mother loved him when he was a child (1910, p. 100). Leonardo's (idealised) love for the penis is none other than his mother's love for her child-penis, an incomplete child on a level of real virility, which can serve the mother in the realisation of her own secret phallic ideal. So, like all unsatisfied mothers, she took her little son in place of her husband, and by the too early maturing of his erotism robbed him of a part of his masculinity. A mother's love for the infant she suckles and cares for is something far more profound than her later affection for the growing child (Freud, 1910, p. 117, my italics). Leonardo's desire to grow up and become the possessor of a real penis, suitable for erotic interest in women, finds a powerful prohibition in the mother. The son must remain ideally attached to the mother's breast, merging with the mother in a dream of love and potency that excludes sexuality as well as the father (husband) who betrayed her. Leonardo cannot love the woman; he can only love what unites him to his mother, that is, his own image which reflects his mother's ideal. Freud certainly does not pass over the young Leonardo's predilection for creating beautiful heads of putti and laughing women, which he interprets as reproductions of the artist himself as he was in his infancy, and his mother Caterina, as she was in the same period. This mother-son tie turns up in his last creative period as a painter, when the enigmatic smile so characteristic of his female figures is extended to male figures like John the Baptist and Bacchus. As Freud tells us: They are beautiful youths of feminine delicacy and with effeminate forms; they do not cast their eyes down, but gaze in mysterious triumph, as if they knew of a great achievement of happiness, about which silence must be kept. The familiar smile of fascination leads one to guess that it is a secret of love (1910, p. 117). For Freud, the secret phantasy of fatherless birth is confirmed in the painting The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne where the figure of St Anne almost fuses into the figure of Mary (especially in the National Gallery cartoon); in Leonardo's own experience, it corresponds to the figures of his mother and Donna Albiera, his father's young wife who took care of him later on. Only Leonardo, asserts Freud, could paint a picture like that. The artist's well-known tendency to leave his works unfinished can be understood on the basis of his obedience to his mother's wishes which makes any conviction in asserting his creativity impossible: If Leonardo was successful in reproducing on Mona Lisa's face the double meaning which this smile contained, the promise of unbounded tenderness and at the same time sinister menace, then here too he had remained true to the content of his earliest memory: For his mother's tenderness was fateful for him; it determined his destiny and the privations that were in store for him (p. 115).
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Freud's slip
In 1923 a Renaissance expert read an editorial in an English art journal lavishing praise on Leonardo da Vinci and a memory of his childhood. He immediately wrote to the editor, pointing out that Freud had got it wrong: in Leonardo's text and the memory of the bird was of a kite, not a vulture. At the same time he mentioned that Freud quotes a note in the original Italian text where the correct word appears in the memory. This mistranslation was to meet with 30 years of absolute silence. In 1952 Irma Richter, who was preparing a new edition of Leonardo's notebooks, indicated in a footnote Freud's mistake. Strachey took account of it in the Standard Edition but, like the vast majority of psychoanalysts, he thought it had little influence on the argument. Some years later the famous art historian Meyer Shapiro in his Leonardo and Freud (1956)where he recognised the importance of Freud's study which in his opinion had opened up new questions still awaiting an informed responseput forward further objections:

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1) Leonardo wrote this memory on the back of a sheet of notes describing the flight of the kite. Thus, the reason why Leonardo had linked his destiny to this bird in the memory (Questo scriver cos distintamente del nibio par che sia mio destino [This writing about the kite so distinctly appears to be my destiny]) has a simple explanation. In the kite the mechanisms of flight can be very easily observed: this bird possesses the art of using the wind; the beating of its tail serves as a model for the rudder. Therefore, in Leonardo's view the incident that befell him was the announcement of his interest in flight and flying machines. 2) In ancient times incidents like the one recorded by Leonardo (typically a bird or a bee alighting on the lips of a child, or entering its mouth) was considered the sign of a heroic destiny. 3) It is not simply true that the subject of The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne was as rare in Renaissance Italian art as Freud claims. Actually, in the period 1485-1510 the cult of St Anne was at its height and led to countless representations of Mary seated in her lap, holding the Child in her own lap, as we see in Leonardo's painting. In producing this painting, he was doing no more than following the trend of the time; it was not an original trend of his own. Shapiro's objections, however, do nothing to demolish the validity of Freud's theorising upon the phantasy constellation in the work and life of the great artist. In his fine preface to the new French edition of Leonardo da Vinci and a memory of his childhood, Pontalis (1987) widens the critical horizon of the questions raised by Shapiro: 1) In Leonardo's interest in the flight of birds Freud sees the passion of desire: submission of winged phallus to the power of man. 2) The fact that this analysed memory is inserted in a long tradition of similar examples interpreted as premonitions of an exceptional destiny does nothing to destroy the phantasy character of the memory itself. In fact, it reveals an adhesion to collective parthenogenetic phantasies, from which Leonardo had chosen some elements rather than others.
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3) It may well be true that Leonardo's arrangement of the figures in The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne follows exactly the same kind of figuration used for this subject at the time; but it is equally true that his way of interpreting this figuration is so unusual that the work appears to be unique, all winding curves, all gazes and smiles, and the absence of a vertical axis presents us with two women completely orientated towards the ascendancy the child has upon them, a child who descends from them both, yet impatient to shake off their tender influence as soon as he can (Pontalis, 1987, p. 277) What Freud identifies in his Leonardo study is a universal phantasy which plays an important role in the destiny of the great man and explains important aspects of his life and his artistic and scientific creativity. On this point I think we can let Pontalis have the last word: A vulture or a kite from far off Egypt, so proficient in controlling its flight, or else a dove of the Holy Spirit What better way to remove the father, so that it is the father figure who becomes illegitimate? And what could be more fitting to resolve this paradox: preserve the mother from the horror of copulation in order to assure her son a carnal connection with her? Why can't we just be born of a simple puff of breath, or wind? What a strange story of birds (p. 276). On this last point Pontalis's position comes very close to Eissler's (1962), who holds that, provided Freud's interpretation refers to no particular type of bird, it may be considered correct. So Freud still hits the mark in spite of his mistake in taking a kite for a vulture; though we may still continue to wonder: in spite of or thanks to this mistake? Viderman clearly adopts the second possibility: Freud wants to make it very clear that one day, somewhere, however distant and however difficult it may be to confirm, something did happen: while Leonardo was watching the flight of a vulture, or while he was reading the Fathers of the Church. If he had not been watching the flight of a vulture but the flight of a kite, if he had never read the sacred texts, Leonardo's phantasy and the unconscious meaning the interpretation lends it, would have absolutely nothing to lose in validity; in fact everything to gain since they do not depend in any way upon these inezie reali (factual trivialities) which obviously Leonardo had no use for in creating his phantasy; but they certainly served Freud in outlining his interpretation (1970, p. 158). However, in spite of the fact that Viderman draws attention, more than once, to the mistranslation that led to the opening up of the deeper aspects of the phantasy, rather surprisingly he never explicitly tells us anything about what the erroneous substitution of vulture for kite would add to the configuration of Leonardo's phantasy, even though, in following his train of thought, we can indirectly arrive at the fact that it refers to impregnation by the wind. Let us take another look at the question: Freud's mistake results from a double mistranslation: both in the German translation of Merezhkovsky (1895 [1982]) and in Marie Herzfeld's (1906) book, the Italian word for kite, nibbio (Hhnergeier), is wrongly translated as vulture, avvoltoio (Geier). And yet this confusion in terms is inexplicable: Freud knew Italian and had read Vasari and Scognamiglio in the original. Moreover, he quoted the correct Italian text of the memory in a footnote. So how could he fail to spot the error in translation?
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In the general opinion of psychoanalysts, this is a slip. Yet none of them has considered its significance; and this in spite of the fact that psychoanalytic literature is filled with analyses of the most varying aspects of the psychology of the first psychoanalyst. In the face of such silence, we may identify a sign of a resistance and, for the moment, suspend explanation. Obviously, the slip of the vulture is therefore the expression of an unconscious drive of its author. The part of Freud's argument that concerns the meaning of the vulture (as has been so frequently pointed out) seems to have very little influence on the purpose of its theoretical construction in the case of Leonardo. He certainly had no need of the Egyptian representation of the mother through the vulture to prove the presence of the phallic female figure in the phantasy of a bird (of any species) that pushed its tail into the mouth of a child. And yet he seems infatuated with this section of his argument. It seems to me that the specificity with which he treats the vulture (the point in Freud's construction where this bird cannot be substituted by the kite or any other species of bird) is linked to impregnation by the wind. Freud appears to use the belief in the vulture's impregnation by wind in order to associate it with virgin motherhood (Leonardo's phantasy of being born, like Jesus Christ, without copulation, without the intervention of the real father). Now, there is an association between the wind and impregnation in the Christian tradition, though it does not concern the conception of Jesus, but that of his mother, Mary. According to some, St Anne conceived her daughter through a union consisting solely of a kiss, a breath. The curious thing is that Freud devotes some very fine pages to the line of descent, St Anne, Mary, Jesus (Caterinaor the paternal grandmotherDonna Albiera, Leonardo), examining with close attention and trenchancy the works which Leonardo dedicated to this subject; yet he makes no connection between this part of his argument and his discussion on the vulture. This is by no means a matter of secondary importance, because it is in the trinity St Anne-Virgin-Child1 that the immaculate conception (of Mary) and virgin conception (of Jesus) all converge. Ifas Freud seems to be on the point of saying, but ends up by not saying it at allLeonardo/Jesus is the son of a single mother, then this mother is a daughter of the wind. Put another way: if St Anne is impregnated by the breath/wind (as was the vulture according to ancient belief), Mary is daughter of the wind, a flying figure, and finally the kite! The flying machine, which Leonardo longed for (all his life) is the mother created by the wind, a free-flying winged creature, not subjected to earthly bonds. Freud's insertion of vulture in place of kite is not an accident: it carries Freud in this direction and his very failure to reach some explanation, his peculiar reticence, supplies the surest confirmation. I speak of reticence because in Freiberg, the small town in Moravia where Freud was born and spent his childhood, the cult of Marian piety had arrived and the Cathedral was dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. So when Freud speaks of the vulture he is indirectly taking up the theme of the

This trinity, defined as humanissima, in Leonardo's time contrasted with the trinity, defined as divinissima, Father-Son-Holy Spirit.

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Immaculate Conception, though without explicit reference to it, but thereby revealing, and at the same time concealing, a phantasy of his own: the mother/daughter of the wind, the mother kite.2 I do not intend to launch into a full psychoanalysis of Freud. I shall confine myself to some basic observations which may prove useful in illustrating both his deep and complex identification with his mother and also the impossibility of circumscribing his conflict with his father within a strictly oedipal field. 1) Some of the most important dreams in Freud's self-analysis, exposed in The interpretation of dreams (1900), are difficult to understand unless due account is taken of his complex identification with his mother's wishes. a) In the dream of Irma (1900, p. 107) his anxiety about the loss of, or risk of losing, female figures (the death of one of Freud's patients whom he was treating as a physician, the illness of his daughter, his dread of doing damage to Irma) interweaves with his deep concern about losing his internal male object. This concern is represented in the dream by the death of a friend through abuse of cocaine (given to him by Freud) and by Freud's own health problems: his rheumatism in the shoulder (corresponding to the infiltrations in Irma's skin) and, especially, the swelling of the mucous membrane in his nose (corresponding to the greyish scabs in Irma's nasal cavity treated with cocaine. It seems to me that Freud's experience of the entire dream swings between fear of the suicide of his own virility caused by dependence on his mother (cocaine abuse) and fear of the damage it could cause to the woman (and to the female side to his own nature), his virile confirmation towards her (based on his ambivalent identification with Fliess who represented the father figure). b) In the dream of Count Thun (p. 209) we move from the housekeeper who lights they way for Freud (helping him to escape from the state of complex conflict with the father figure) to his meeting with the man who is (or is pretending to be?) blind (in one or both eyes?). There is uncertainty between the desire (always ambivalent) to safeguard paternal authority and the temptation to maintain a situation where it is the mother who enlightens and the father who is blind (heredity is from the mother; the real father is excluded). c) In the dream of the task assigned to him by Professor Brcke (preparation of the lower part of his body) (p. 452) the main association is about a book Freud lent his colleague Louise N. (who in the dream helps him prepare his own body), a contemporary novel (Rider Haggard's She) which Freud interpreted as the story of the eternal feminine, the immortality of our emotions (p. 453, my italics). Moreover, this novel and another one also by Rider Haggard (Heart of the world) supply images for Freud's route in the second part of the dream, a complicated route which

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takes the dreamer first through swamps, then into a little wooden house, and

As far as I know the only writer who links Leonardo's phantasy to a phantasy of Freud himself is Roazen (1975), but he does so on the basis of the well-known identification between Freud and Leonardo and through an indirect analysis of Freud's mother. Roazen refers to Freud's mistake, but does not discuss it nor does he analyse the configuration of the phantasy. For him the mother bird (of prey) is Amalie Freud.

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finally on to a rough track at the edge of a precipice. It is significant that in both novels the guide is a woman (as Freud underlines). It seems that his attraction for the eternal feminine leads Freud in a very dangerous direction. Since Freud explicitly interpreted the dissection of his own body in the first part of the dream as his self-analysis, I think this very complex dream offers evidence of Freud's fear of trusting the female part of himself, particularly during his self-analysis (just because of his dreadful attraction for the eternal feminine?). 2) In his relationship with his father there was no lack of genuine affection, but the problems appear on the level of transmission of heredity. The two elements which, in my opinion, may represent this are: a) Freud's father gave him the names of Sigismund Schelomoh, neither of which survived his adolescence. He never used Schelomoh, the name of his paternal grandfather; and, after trying out Sigmund instead of Sigismund, he adopted it definitively when he enrolled at Vienna University. b) For his 35th birthday, 6 May 1891, Freud's father presented his son with the Philippsohn Bible, a book Freud had studied as a child. For the occasion, his father had the book bound in leather accompanied by a heartfelt dedication in Hebrew. What had led the father to make this giftin which he wrote his son's name as Schelomoh like his own father, the name Freud never usedwas that the book was not only an acknowledgement but also a consecration of the link between the men of three successive generations. However, Jacob Freud committed an error in signing the Hebrew dedication, just at the point where he was making the connection with his own father, Jacob, son of Shelomoh Fried (Yerushalmi 1991). According to Balsamo and Napolitano (1998), the crucial moment of the transmission, intended to confirm an identification between them, was broken by a slip in the handwriting. 3) In his clinical cases Freud devotes appropriate and interesting attention to the pre-oedipal aspects that shed considerable light upon the importance of the phallic mother, but at the moment of the final configuration of his construction he decidedly opts for a shift to the central importance of the father figure and the oedipal dimension: a) In the case of Dora, Freud fails to focus on the phantasy of an oral relation with the mother's penis, in spite of the association he has already made himself between penis and breast, and insists on the patient's identification with Frau K. who practises oral sex with the father (not taking into consideration, as Lacan does, the evidence of cunnilingus practised by the impotent father on Frau K.). Even though the presence of a gynaecophilic current is very clear in his mind, and he takes it into consideration on various occasions, in the end his interpretation is inexorably restricted to Dora's desire for the fatherHerr K. One sign of this resistance is the fact that, when he decides to recognise the all-importance of the gynaecophilic current and attribute the cause of the mistake in his analysis of the patient to his own difficulty in taking sufficient account of it, he only does so in the Postscript to the
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text and in a footnote!3 It took Freud 30 years before he decided to give sufficient theoretical attention to the question of the gynaecophilic current in the woman, one year after his mother's death (Freud, 1931). b) In the case of Little Hans (1909a) Freud finally shifts everything onto the oedipal rivalry with the father, even though he had previously made an appropriate reference to the mother with the penis, without taking into consideration in his final construction the fact that the main figuration of the phantasyi.e. the cartmother (pregnancy) pulled by the father/horseis also a clear representation of a phallic woman. c) In his last two clinical cases Freud seems more reluctant. While he had admitted the presence of a gynaecophilic current in the case of Dora, and had called attention to the mother with the penis in the case of Little Hans, nothing of the sort happens in the cases of the Wolf Man (1914) and the Rat Man (1909b); here, however, there is conspicuous clinical material referring directly or indirectly to the rivalry with the mother, and not with the father, and the phantasy of the phallic mother. In the Rat Man a strongly ambivalent choice of a sterile beloved and the patient's unconscious identification with the pregnant woman, to whom Freud makes explicit reference, are among the two most interesting indirect indications of rivalry with the feminine figure; in the Wolf Man the overabundance of castrating female figures, the devaluation of the woman (manifest in the choice of an erotic object) and the ambivalence expressed towards her (obvious in his relationship with his sister) speak for themselves. In the first case, Freud's reluctance produces an interpretation which seems to me ingenious and complicated at the same time.

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In the second case, in order to stress the all-importance of the father figure, Freud is forced to bring in the concept of the philogenetic originating schema which, however interesting and stimulating it may be, certainly proves rather problematic. It is well worth paying some attention to the fact that, between writing up the case of the Rat Man and before beginning on the case of the Wolf Man, Freud wrote his study on Leonardo in which the phantasy of a phallic mother found its proper figuration, as we have seen. It would appear that, with his two clinical cases on the one hand, and his Leonardo study on the other, Freud had brought about a sort of internal compensation. If this were the case, though it is by no means easy to prove, it is significant that his recognition of the role of the phallic mother occurred in the field of applied psychoanalysis, where there was less emotive involvement, and not in clinical practice. 4) In The interpretation of dreams, analysing once more his dream about his friend R (1900, p. 137), with whom he had associated his wish to become professor extraordinary, Freud mentions an episode often talked about during his childhood. When he was born, an old peasant woman had prophesied to his mother that the birth of her first son would bring a great man into the world. Freud wondered: Could this have been the source of my thirst for grandeur? (p. 192). And it is certainly not

In this note Freud says explicitly, speaking of Dora: I failed to discover in time and to inform the patient that her homosexual (gynaecophilic) love for Frau K. was the strongest unconscious current in her mental life (1901, p. 120).

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without interest that, when Freud speaks of Leonardo's memory, he formulates the theory that this memory could actually belong to the mother of Leonardo who would have taken it as a sign of her son's future greatness. What do we know about Freud's mother? Not very much. We know she was 20 years younger than her husband who made her his third wife. Together they had eight children. In speaking of Amalie Freud and her relations with her son, Roazen (1975) draws our attention to Freud's wish to be regarded as his mother's special, favourite son.4 Did she return the love of her first son, recognising in him a chance of realising herself, her liberation? Was her son longing to see her rise into the air, far from the patriarch (her husband/father)? It is possible they met in a dream they both shared of taking flight like birds? The destinies of sons and mothers sometimes interweave in impossible dreams that could be mortal. Freud's destiny was by no means fateful. In giving focus to Leonardo's phantasy, he had the chance to become master of a phantasy of his own, fulfilling his wish to appropriate his winged mother. I think the most important result of his self-analysis was his emancipation from the condition of a son destined for an exceptional future to conform to his mother's wishes. His rediscovery and legitimisation of his father allowed him to substitute his destiny as chosen son with his destiny as a revolutionary son. In conclusion, let us return to the point we left in suspension. The reluctance among psychoanalysts to come to grips with an interpretation of Freud's slip in his study on Leonardo seems to me to express a resistance to recognising that it was actually an unconscious drive that gave rise to his mistranslation of the name of the bird, in order to steer it on to the right track. His identification with Leonardo's phantasy allowed him to grasp his own phantasy and indirectly confer it with meaning on the level of a theoretical construction.

The meeting of the phantasies of analyst and patient in the analytic relation
Clinical illustration
Freud's interest in applied psychoanalysis had, in considerable part, its roots in his self-analytical work. That was not only because of his well-known identification with the historical characters he analysed, but principally because of his need to provide an explanation, in an indirect form, to his unconscious drives. Of course, all of us consider it almost obvious that, when an analyst chooses a particular issue of applied psychoanalysis, his choice reflects one of his unconscious phantasies. But the analysis of Freud's slip shows us, furthermore, both that this choice is part of indirect, silent, self-analytical work and that the need of the analyst to give

Reading Roazen's work has drawn my attention to a passage in Freud where it is easy to identify an autobiographical component: A mother is only brought unlimited satisfaction by her relation to a son; this is altogether the most perfect, the most free from ambivalence of all human relationships. A mother can transfer to her son the ambition which she has been obliged to suppress in herself, and she can expect from him the satisfaction of all that has been left over in her of her masculinity complex (1932, p. 133).

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expression to his unconscious wishes helps him put the issue he is examining in the right focus. The main aim of this paper is not to focus on the meaning of one of Freud's slips and through this to illuminate an aspect of his

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personality. This might be a really interesting theme, but my principal intention is to show how his unconscious phantasies led him, during his analytical work, to the right point of view. Freud's slip in his paper on Leonardo is an important slip made during his analytical work and gives us the opportunity to examine his unconscious desires in action within this work. I think that, on the level which I consider here, what was valid for Freud is also valid for all of us and what is valid for applied psychoanalysis is also valid for psychoanalytical cure. By extending consideration of a meeting between Freud's phantasy with Leonardo's phantasy to the analytic relation, one might say that the work of interpretation in analysis is constantly inspired by a process of cross-phantasising which brings analysand and analyst together on an equal footing. In giving focus to the phantasy of the other the analyst also, indirectly, gives configuration to his own. This requires no awareness on the part of the interpreting subject; instead, it derives from the principle of psychic continuity. In this last part of my paper I shall explore this question more deeply, with the aid of clinical material from two patients, Giovanna and Andrea.

Giovanna, in many ways, is a strong, determined woman of 45. At the same time, she conceals within her areas of great vulnerability. But it is precisely in these areas of inner precariousness that we find an intense capacity for affection and whole-hearted generosity. Two years before the period I refer to she suffered a severe psychic collapse. While recovering from this with the help of pharmaceutical therapy, she began analysis with me on a three-sessions-a-week basis. After six months of analysis, Giovanna had problems with her partner; he could not make up his mind to ask his ex-wife for a divorce, in spite of the fact that he and Giovanna had by now been living together for seven years and had a 12-year-old son. These problems were smoothed over when Giovanna lowered the tone of her demands, aware of how much he loved her and how he had stood by her at the time of her crisis, providing her with reliable support. Her reconciliation with her partner allowed Giovanna to relieve her depressive situation which, as we were able to understand in the sessions, was caused by her concern that her upsurge of anger towards partner might damage him as a containing and affectionate figure, as an object that was good and solid. Her improvement on the depressive level, however, led to intense anxiety. During this time, she began to notice that her participation in their sexual relations had deteriorated to the point where she was no longer able to reach orgasm. In the discussion, we focused on her persistent anger towards him as indirectly expressed through her refusal to participate fully. In the last session of the week, I told her she did not feel it was permissible to be angry with the person she loved.
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In the first session of the following week: P: Something very strange has happened. I don't feel anxious any more. I can't say I'm happy. But now the anxiety just isn't there. I think It's due to what you told me last time: that I didn't feel it was permissible to be angry with the person I love. A: But if you feel it is permissible, and this is your deepest need, one you needed to share with me, then you may not feel tormented and torn between rage and love. P: Yes, that's it. But there's something else I want to tell you. I talked it over with my partner and asked him if he had spoken again to his ex-wife after that argument we'd had about the divorce. Well, ever since then he hasn't spoken to me, not for the last two days. I realise, of course, It's one of his limitations. I've probably always known that. But now I can recognise it. [I thought Giovanna looked serene.] A: Well, if you can recognise it as a limitation in him, you no longer have to feel so badly about it yourself. P: That's true. A: It must have been a relief when you discovered it wasn't a limitation in yourself, after all. But in your partner. P: All my life I've carried other people's problems; I've felt guilty; I thought I was selfish and that I made unjustifiable demands. Giovanna's father had migrated to another country in search of work, leaving his wife and 2-year-old daughter in Italy, only returning to Italy eight years later. Her mother had taken refuge in professional activity to which she devoted all her energies. On the one hand, she was able to look after her daughter's material needs with considerable efficiency, yet, on the other hand, she found it hard to stand by her daughter with proper emotional support and show her the affection the growing child needed. I told Giovanna she had not only been prevented from claiming her objective rights as a child, since she had to adapt to the problems of her parents, but also, and what was much worse, within herself she had lost her subjective rights, the defence of her own private way of being which had not been recognised or protected by her mother. P: I felt responsible for what was going on; I tried to be a model child; I always kept busy helping out because I couldn't disappoint my mother and she didn't seem to see me. I had to reassure her, I couldn't add to her problems, I had to solve them. [Pause.] My partner's mother knows my child is his, while his ex-wife doesn't know. His mother knows, but pretends

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she doesn't; It's as though my son didn't exist. The trouble for her is that by admitting it she'd be upsetting the way she lives her life. A: Your non-mother-in-law is your non-mother who was never able to see you, or allow you to be yourself in your pleas for a deeper, more genuine love. The whole thing is not simple at all. The mother you didn't have was not an enemy you could confront and fight. Because of your spontaneous liveliness as a child you were
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always somewhere else, never where your mother was expecting you to be, so she could find you; therefore she couldn't figure out how to handle the situation, went into crisis, and so, without wanting to, you threw her into crisis with your urge to live your life. But that woman in crisis was no longer your mother. You lost your mother because you wanted to live a life of your own, like any lively little girl. P: My partner's mother used to be quite fond of me, but only when I was her son's friend, and then only his girlfriend. But afterwards she washed her hands of me. You know, it was only a few weeks ago that I actually managed to talk to my mother for the first time and get her to listen to me, to explain to her how much I missed her, and all my bitterness. It was the very first time she ever understood me, and admitted her problems. I was rebellious when I was a girl; she kept saying I was a degenerate daughter who never gave her a word of thanks for all the sacrifices she'd made for me. I'd just rebel, but in my heart of hearts I felt terribly guilty. Giovanna's change in outlook surprised me. When I had talked to her in the session before, about her need to feel free to be angry with the person she loved, that was the only moment when I felt a sense of relief inside me at a situation that was becoming very tense emotionally because Giovanna's anxiety was very absorbing. And that was the very moment when I felt there had been genuine communication between us. But I absolutely never expected the change which this communication was to bring about. It was the first time she saw me, in the transference, as a primary mother who she could trust. The moment Giovanna told me her anxiety had gone, I could not hide the fact that I felt a certain responsibility and alarm. Immediately afterwards, however, the relation between us developed spontaneously, without my even realising how this fluid sense of understanding occurred, something which had never happened quite like that before. Of course, now I could understand my own sense of responsibility somewhat difficult to handle serenelywhich had accompanied her analysis up to that moment, like my unconscious identification with the figures of her parents. But I wondered how on earth we had come to be so much in harmony and reciprocally guided ourselves into focusing on such an important matter in Giovanna's life. I suddenly remembered a scene from my early adolescence. My twin brother and I were walking through the streets of Athens with our elder sister. We were looking for the house of family friends or relations. My brother was complaining about something. I don't remember what exactly, but suddenly a precise sensation surfaced in my memory: I agreed with my brother, but I supported what my sister was saying. And, while I was doing this, I understood that I didn't feel I wanted to contradict her, and that I would far sooner forgo expressing my real opinion than make difficulties for her. My sister was nine years older than me and like a second mother to me. This made me remember something I had forgotten about my relations with my mother. She was a very kind woman who almost never got angry: This did not prevent me from disagreeing with her, and also disappointing her when it was inevitable; but there was a point when my attitude became less genuine, and I found myself in a conflicting position I couldn't sustain because I was professing agreement that was not at all sincere; I was promising something that, emotively, would be very hard
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for me to keep. This happened whenever my mother seemed to be losing her grip on the situation, and during my analysis I was able to understand that my attitude was linked to her illness lasting a number of years during a very delicate period of my childhood, and which made me afraid of losing her at any moment. Recalling all this, I thought how my mother had died many years ago and also my beloved elder sister not so long ago; and so, finally, speaking just as much to myself through Giovanna, I felt that she had had similar but more devastating problems with her mother; and I was able to tell myself with conviction that we need to feel free to be angry with the people we love; I also saw that I had not promised my patient anything I couldn't maintain. That had allowed me to be, in the transference, a reliable mother for her.

The difficulty of a child to freely express his own wishes to his mother without being afraid of making problems for her and harming her, was a central feature in the life of Andrea, a 30-year-old patient, who for many years had got himself stuck in a loveless relationship with a woman his own age with whom he had never been in love, though he felt bound to her through affection and solidarity. He was also burdened by very close ties with a deeply depressed mother, who had been abandoned by her husband when Andrea was only 2 years old because in a phase of exaltation she had betrayed him with quite a number of men. At a certain point during his analysis, Andrea met a girl he found extremely attractive and for the first time in his life established an intensely erotic relationship. About a year after this relationship beganand not without passing through debilitating doubts and

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hesitationshe made up his mind to break off his former engagement and devote himself entirely to his new attachment. Just at that time, he had the following dream: A woman was floating in the sea; then a gang of smugglers hauled her into their boat, saving her life. The woman had been floating among apples, like timber thrown into a river for transportation. But the smugglers had second thoughts and flung her overboard again, firing at her with intent to kill. I must appeal to my readers patience, as I do not intend to dwell on details in the subsidiary material or the complexities of the interpretative work. I shall merely say that Andrea's desire and feelings of revenge towards the woman intersected in the dream. Now I will concentrate on the aspect I consider most important from the point of view of this paper: the wish that animated the dream and the conflict present in the dream images were linked to the ruthless love Winnicott (1949) speaks of, that is, the child's deep need to possess his first love object freely and without being afraid of damaging it, before developing some necessary concern for it. At a certain point, when Andrea was talking about his new girlfriend, he told me, She loves my erotic passion; she likes to think I'm eating her with my penis, that I'm feeding off her sexually. I never get tired of making love with her. Every day I feel the same excitement of being together and having her. I made an immediate comment without stopping to think: So your girl is like an apple, always in abundance, you can enjoy her without using her up. That's the way it is when we are babies feeding from our mother's breast. Or when we eat an apple
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and enjoy it because we know we can go on eating apples for the rest of our lives. There'll always be plenty more where that one came from. I suddenly found my mind wandering back to when I was a child: there were times while I was eating one of my favourite dishes (like meat balls and potato chips) when I'd think it would be all gone in a minute or two and how sorry I'd be. While I was lost in these thoughts, Andrea burst out laughing and said, Do you know that's exactly what came into my mind these last few days with my girl? The pleasure of enjoying things without being afraid they'll come to an end.5 Interpretation originates silently within ourselves through the transformation which the analytic relation imprints in our emotive and mental set-up while we identify with, and also differentiate from, the patient; while we make the effort to understand him and load up with his emotions. In so doing our phantasies intersect with the patient's, creating an area of convergence and encounter. This not only produces a profound knowledge consciousness of reciprocated idioms (Bollas, 1995), but, whenever we try to give a form to the patient's phantasy, it also permits that our own wish to have our unconscious drives indirectly realised on the field of meanings participates in this research. Translating an unconscious wish of our own into the understanding of the other is a very important step forward in our work of interpretation. This has nothing to do with projection; it occurs at the moment when our phantasy finds a liberating and significant contact with that of the patient. We formulate interpretations to express a silent transformation in our way of hearing and seeing, but this transformation can only take place if an appropriate part of our unconscious wishes is activated. On the preconscious level, this movement is translated into the possibility of a new focus on matters which, however much they are elaborated, could never be considered definitively resolved within us. If this is the way things are progressing, the result is that our understanding of the patient occurs in a very personal way, originating in our unconscious, and is not the result of a purely intellectual and mechanical operation. At the same time, only if an explicitly given interpretation is witness to a profound meeting between analyst and analysand will it arrive at the right moment, that is, in harmony with the analyst's need to focus and communicate, together with his understanding of the patient, also his own diversity. In fact, we formulate interpretations not only to express something we understand, but also to resurface from the area of undifferentiated communication between the two unconsciousnesses and restore asymmetry and boundaries to the relation; as well as restoring to us and to the patient the sense of our distinct but communicating identities. Only if a genuine concordance occurs between the wishes of the analyst and that of the patient can there be any real recognition of the patient in his difference (in what in him is authentic) because this meeting also carries with it a deep need for

5 It is of capital importance for the child that the mother's breast continuously regenerates after every consummation. The aggressive phantasy, present in Andrea's dream of consuming the woman-apple, throwing her away afterwards (making love to her killing her own subjectivity, i.e treating her as an erotic object without soul) was probably related to the perception of a breast-apple beautiful to see but untouchable.

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diversity. It is necessary to find the usual in the unusual (Milner, 1952) in order to wish for what is extraneous and give start to a relationship based on the exchange among differences. The unconscious phantasy itself is by definition a meeting point between similarity (identification) and diversity (disidentification), and the stimulus that animates it tends, in the ultimate analysis, to transport an unconscious wish towards what is different, as if clearing something through customs in a foreign country. Thanks to the asymmetry of the analytic relation, which permits the suspension of judgement, memory and wishes for the analyst's wishes to flow freely, far from the need of direct satisfaction, the analyst has the chance of giving indirect satisfaction to this wish, through cognitive and affective appropriation of what is not part of his experience; or, to put it more precisely, of what belongs to him and does not belong to him,

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what is similar and different at the same time. To render the other similar and different, that is, understandable and recognisable, is the essence of analytic interpretation which, in my opinion, can never be considered satisfactory unless it sinks its roots in the unconscious wish of the analyst. The most important thing in Freud's study of Leonardo, particularly from a strictly clinical point of view, is not the identification of a universal phantasy in their common phantasy, but the fact that thanks to the similarity of their experiences Freud was able to feel he stood not all that far from Leonardo's homosexual diversity in order to appropriate it for himself through comprehension and the capacity to theorise an important aspect of homosexuality and its significance.
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Freud S (1914). From the history of an infantile neurosis. SE 17, p. 3-122. [] Freud S (1931). Female sexuality. SE 21, p. 223-46. [] Freud S (1932). New introductory lectures on psycho-analysis. SE 22, p. 1-182. [] Eissler KR (1962). Leonardo da Vinci: Psychoanalytic notes on the enigma. New York: Int. Univ.Press. Gombrich E (1996). The jokes as paradigm of art. The aesthetic theories of Sigmund Freud. In: Woodfield R, editor. The essential Gombrich. Selected writings on art and culture, p. 189-210. London: Phaidon. Herzfeld M (1906). Leonardo Da Vinci: Der Denker, Forscher und Poet: Nach den veroffentlichten Handschriften, 2nd ed [Leonardo da Vinci, thinker, researcher and poet]. Jena. Milner M (1952). The role of illusion in symbol-formation. In: The suppressed madness of sane men, p. 83-113. London: The Institute of Psycho-Analysis, 1987. [] Merezhkovsky D ([1895] 1982). Leonardo da Vinci. La ressurezione degli dei [The romance of Leonardo da Vinci: The gods resurgent]. Florence, Italy: Giunti Martello. Pontalis JB (1987). L'attrazione degli uccelli in Perdere di vista [The attraction of the birds in Out of the sight]. Rome: Borla, 1993. [French edition: L'attrait des oiseaux in Perdre de vue. Paris: Gallimard, 1988.] Richter IA, editor (1952). Selections from the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci. London: Oxford Univ. Press. Roazen P (1975). Freud and his followers. New York: Da Capo Press, 1992. Scognamiglio NS (1900). Ricerche e documenti sulla giovinezza di Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1482) [Research and documents on Leonardo da Vinci as a young man]. Naples, Italy: Marghieri. Shapiro M (1956). Leonardo and Freud, An art-historical study. J History Ideas XVII: 147-78. Vasari G (1550 [1998]). Life of Leonardo da Vinci. In: The lives of the artists, Bondanella JC, Bondanella P, translators. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press. Viderman S (1970). La construction de l'espace analytique [The construction of the analytical space]. Paris: Gallimard, 1982. Yerushalmi YH (1991). Freud's Moses: Judaism terminable and interminable. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press. Winnicott DW (1949). Hate in the counter-transference. In: Through paediatrics to psychoanalysis: Collected papers, p. 194-203. London: Tavistock, 1958. []
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Article Citation [Who Cited This?]

Thanopulos, S. (2005). Leonardo's phantasy and the importance of Freud's slip. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 86:395-412
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