Sergei Pankejeff was a patient of Sigmund Freud who gave him the case name "Wolf Man" to protect his identity. Pankejeff was born to a wealthy family from Odessa. In , his older sister Anna died by suicide, and Pankejeff began experiencing symptoms of depression. In , his father also died by suicide by overdosing on sleeping pills.
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Permalink Print. In Depth Psychodynamic Approach How Freud's theories of the human psyche seek to explain the influence of our subconscious. Learn more. His health had deteriorated after he had suffered from gonorrhea aged eighteen and he eventually felt unable to pass bowel movements without the assistance of an enema.
He also felt as though he was separated from the outside world by a veil and had become unable to function normally without assistance by the time his physician referred him to Freud in Freud believed that this would motivate his client to lower his resistance and to cooperate more than if they were to see each other indefinitely.
In the event, though, their sessions would continue intermittently for many years beyond the date agreed. He discovered that the man had been born into a relatively happy marriage, until health problems began to affect both parents. His mother began to suffer from abdominal problems, whilst his father experienced bouts of depression.
He would be missing from the family home for periods of time as a result, with Wolf Man only learning the reason for this when he grew older. As a child, Wolf Man was initially a calm, quiet character. The boy had become argumentative, irritable and sometimes violent. His parents suspected that this was a result of the new English governess who had begun caring for the children: known to enjoy a drink, the woman argued with the nanny, with Wolf Man opting to side with the latter, whom he held in great esteem.
This disruptive aspect of his personality lasted until he was around eight years of age. Further irrational behavior affected Wolf Man as a child. He developed a fear of wolves and was teased by his sister who would upset him with an illustration of the animal from a book. But this fear was not limited to wolves - beetles and caterpillars also became a source of anxiety for him. Freud recounted one occasion when Wolf Man was pursuing a butterfly, and whilst doing so, became afraid of butterflies, forcing him to cease his chase.
This fear of animals, which had emerged as he approached the age of four, caused some confusion to Freud, as he learnt that the boy had simultaneously taunted caterpillars, cutting them into pieces, and was violent towards horses, without fearing them. Upto the age of around ten, Wolf Man also became unusually zealous in his religious worship and developed a nightly routine of praying and kissing any icons in the house.
Blasphemous thoughts entered his head and a strange association occurred: the sight of horse manure in the road would result in religious thoughts. A fear of turning into the aging men or beggars who he passed in the street resulted in him creating a ritual of breathing out in an exaggerated fashion as he passed them.
Relations between the governess and Wolf Man had initially been difficult, with her insulting his nanny and he feeling the need to side with the latter. But had this been the cause of his anxieties? Firstly, he had recalled the governess giving him chopped sugar sweet sticks, which she had described as resembling snakes that had been cut up. Wolf Man had also been told the story of Reynard, a cunning mythical fox who lost his tail in the ice whilst using it as hunting bait.
Freud also identified Wolf Man witnessing his father chopping a snake into pieces whilst out walking, as a possible source of this irrational castration anxiety, which may have led to his fear of horses and caterpillars, owing to their phallic shape. The two would become good friends, but Wolf Man later made advances towards her which, Freud noted, were rejected, and the desire that he felt may have lead to repressed feelings of guilt.
During his sessions with Freud, Wolf Man would describe the contents of his dreams to his therapist, allowing for their interpretation. The most significant dream involved white wolves, earning his pseudonym from Freud:. Wolf Man was in bed when he was suddenly awoken and, looking out of the bedroom window, he saw six or seven white wolves sat in a walnut tree outside, focussed on him. Certain features of the wolves resembled those of other animals - their tails, for example, were more like those of foxes than of wolves.
Afraid of the wolves entering his bedroom and attacking him, Wolf Man awoke and had to be reassured that he the dream was just that before he could return to sleep comfortably. Freud believed that Wolf Man had developed a fear of his father, and that his misbehavior as a child was a masochistic attempt to be beaten by him. His father had, however, resisted reprimanding his son, attempting instead to reconcile with him.
His sister committed suicide after complaining of maltreatment by an older woman who she went travelling with and his father died a year later. Living until the age of 92, Wolf Man would excel in a range of artistic endeavours, and even recounted his white wolves dream in a painting entitled My Dream.
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The Wolfman and Other Cases
Permalink Print. In Depth Psychodynamic Approach How Freud's theories of the human psyche seek to explain the influence of our subconscious. Learn more. His health had deteriorated after he had suffered from gonorrhea aged eighteen and he eventually felt unable to pass bowel movements without the assistance of an enema. He also felt as though he was separated from the outside world by a veil and had become unable to function normally without assistance by the time his physician referred him to Freud in Freud believed that this would motivate his client to lower his resistance and to cooperate more than if they were to see each other indefinitely. In the event, though, their sessions would continue intermittently for many years beyond the date agreed.
Sigmund Freud's Wolf Man
The Pankejeff family note: this is Freud's German transliteration from the Russian; in English it would be transliterated as Pankeyev was a wealthy family in St. Sergei attended a grammar school in Russia, but after the Russian Revolution he spent considerable time abroad studying. During his review of Freud's letters and other files, Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson uncovered notes for an unpublished paper by Freud's associate Ruth Mack Brunswick. Freud had asked her to review the Pankejeff case, and she discovered evidence that Pankejeff had been sexually abused by a family member during his childhood. In , his older sister Anna committed suicide while visiting the site of Mikhail Lermontov 's fatal duel, and by Sergei began to show signs of serious depression.
When a disturbed young Russian man came to Freud for treatment, the analysis of his childhood neuroses—most notably a dream about wolves outside his bedroom window—eventually revealed a deep-seated trauma. Above all, the case histories show us Freud at work, in his own words. Introduction II. Epicrisis IV.