'The harsh therapy' : an investigation into the inquisitorial method in the medieval witch trials and in Freud's early development of psychoanalysis
Freud wrote to Fliess on 24 January 1897: 'I ... understand the harsh therapy of the witches' judges'. This thesis tries to make that statement intelligible. It takes further the argument of my MA thesis: 'Freud and Wier: Transitional Figures?'. Freud appears to have been implicitly comparing his new method, psychoanalysis, with the procedures of the inquisitors and judges in the medieval witch trials. This thesis presents evidence that Freud meant this comparison seriously. It is known that Freud made a deep study of the literature on the witch trials. This thesis examines the literature that we know he read and what was available to him that he most likely read. I have systematically examined Freud's attitude to the witch trials in his remarks at a meeting of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. I have done systematic comparisons of Freud's methods with the methods in the witch trials as described in the literature that Freud is known to have studied as well as in the medieval works on witch trials that were being prepared for re-publication in the Bibliot6que Diabolique under the sponsorship of the School of Charcot in the 1880's. I have also examined in detail the methods that Freud used in treating his patients beteen 1892 and 1900.1 have compared the methods of the witches' judges with Freud's methods. The thesis demonstrates, in significant respects, namely in terms of interrogating, pressure and extracting information, that the methods are similar. My research findings, therefore, strongly confirm my hypothesis. The thesis raises the question of the implications of this for psychotherapy and psychoanalysis.