I’m beginning to believe the hardest part of any book is the last ten pages.

One of the most important issues that the book raised (for me), was the question – if you’re treating somebody with multiple personality disorder, who exactly are you treating? Who/which personalities are called alters? Which, now that I’ve typed it out, I realize is probably the point that Hacking’s trying to make (in part).

More Freud, because why not:

“[Freud's] patients had to face up the truth- as he saw it. We can have no doubt, in retrospect, that Freud very often deluded himself, thanks to his resolute dedication to theory. Half a century of Freud scholarship has taught that Freud got patients to believe things about themselves that were false, things that were often so bizarre that only the most devout theorizer could propose them in the first place. But there is no evidence that Freud systematically, as a method of therapy, got his patients to believe what he himself knew to be lies.” (196)

I’m in agreement with this passage.

At the beginning Hacking calls Alzheimer’s disease “a disease of memory” (3). I tagged that with “how else can Alzheimer’s symptoms be defined?”, but now I realize (once again) – that’s probably his point. Here are some other symptoms (and therefore, other possible ways of defining) of Alzheimer’s:

“As the disease advances, symptoms can include confusion, irritability, aggression, mood swings, trouble with language, and long-term memory loss. As the sufferer declines they often withdraw from family and society.[5][7] Gradually, bodily functions are lost, ultimately leading to death.[8]” (Wikipedia)

In chapter 18 Hacking also describes what he calls “wrong-forgetting” – “the suppression of central items from one’s past that are integral to one’s character or nature” (259). I had to ask how something you don’t remember consciously can affect you (ruling out events that happened farther back than you can remember things). Hacking does provide an explanation, but it’s psychoanalytic, and he discredits it in the same breath anyway. I’m probably missing something obvious here, but what exactly does Hacking mean?

Thanks for reading, everyone.

Gathered up

I put off this post because I haven’t found anything to say about the book.

Well, I guess I can start with Freud.

“Examine diligently, therefore, all the faculties of your soul: memory, understanding, and will. Examine with precision all your senses as well. . . . Examine, moreover, all your thoughts, every word you speak, and all your actions. Examine even unto your dreams, to know if, once awakened, you did not give them your consent. And finally, do not think that in so sensitive and perilous a matter as this, there is anything trivial or insignificant.” (20)

I tagged it with Freud mostly because the dream-analysis part caught my attention, but in typing out the full quote, I realized it was closer to a description of introspection. Which is weird now, because when I was actually taking PSYC 101 I never really thought about the similarities between Freud and introspection. Probably because I hadn’t read Dora then.

I like how the first part of the book is called “We “Other Victorians”". As in, even though their opinions regarding sexuality are different, they’re still Victorians. The question of what defines an era goes back to what Miranda said about how eras are made sense of in retrospect in the Lyrical Ballads lecture and the ensuing discussion in seminar.

Foucault concerns himself a lot with what I tagged in my notes as a “legislation” of sex (37) – literally, but I was also referring to how he seems to dislike comprehensive descriptions/explanations of sex. He also draws a line between sexuality and sex in his discussion, which I found interesting (54, 114).

I also like that he didn’t use, as I said in my last blog post, the random justification (at least, not to the extent that Rousseau uses it). Maybe just because his discussion is more limited, with a focus on history like the Industrial Revolution, and not Rousseau’s brand of pre-history. Checking against my seminar notes now, we discussed Foucault in our Silencing the Past seminars and how Foucault doesn’t discuss the “provenance of power” and talks about history without being a historian (just like Trouillot). Again, now that I’ve remembered this, it’s weird that the books that have something to do with Silencing the Past are the ones I really am “decidedly neutral” (again) about. Maybe because I haven’t really considered in the past whether or not I’ve liked most of the books, and only recently have I started to do that.

See? Not much to say. Thanks for reading, everyone.


[Edited for spacing.]


I didn’t like this book at all.

The first thing that struck me as odd was Freud talking about how had published a case study without the patient knowing. I thought that possibly, this was considered acceptable back when he was writing Dora, but now I’ve found that apparently not. Either way, I thought it was strange from the beginning.

Normally in blog posts I quote my notes, but the truth is, most of my notes this time chronicle how bewildered/disbelieving I was concerning most of the things Freud was saying. There’s the part on page 23 when he talks about what how he thinks Herr. K kissing Dora translated from reality into her memory. There’s the part on page 33 when he suggests that maybe Dora’s aphonia was due to the fact that the one person she wanted to speak to wasn’t around. And, of course, there’s the part on page 91 where he provides a sexual reading of Dora’s dream. My note for that last one is a very calm “you could apply this to any locale if you tried”. Honestly. Maybe I’ve gone about reading this book all the wrong way, but I (well, a reader in general) have no idea what Freud has not told about Dora, or even what Dora has not told.

This book is just so full of conjecture and interpretation that I can’t take it seriously. It read to me overall as proof that you can make anything look like anything else if only you try hard enough. This is my new least favourite book on the reading list.

I’m aware that Freud quotes Charcot to those who have expressed a “personal dislike or disbelief”: “Ca n’empêche pas d’exister” (105). I don’t believe Freud’s made a strong enough case, and maybe that’s my problem. Very well.