The case study

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


This chapter considers the form and function of Freud's case studies in relation to narrative fiction, and in particular the novella, to which he feels compelled to compare them. What the two genres share is a paradoxical combination of the exemplary, as a normative category, and the exceptional, as that which exceeds or scandalizes the norm. Just as cases function in psychoanalysis and other systems of thought as compromises between the individual and the general, so too do the fictional cases of the novella tradition. This affinity between psychoanalysis and literature is explored here through the case study in which Freud most closely analyzes a fictional text: Delusion and Dreams in Wilhelm Jensen's “Gradiva” (1907). Freud's model of identification as working through what he calls the “singular trait” is a particular focus for the analysis, as is the transferential investment that the psychoanalytic reader has in the singular traits of his case text and of its protagonist.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationA Concise Companion to Psychoanalysis, Literature, and Culture
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781118610169
ISBN (Print)9781405188609
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Case history
  • Counter-transference
  • Exemplarity
  • Identification
  • Novella
  • Singularity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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