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Freud’s ‘Roman Phobia’
It is well known that, about the turn of the century, Sigmund Freud had a persistent desire to visit Rome that was repeatedly frustrated on account of a neurotic inhibition. [*] He planned several trips to Rome, and even set out on some of them, but a powerful phobia stopped him from reaching his goal. Only on 2 September 1901 did he finally succeed (with unexpected ease, given the strength of his earlier inhibition) in entering the city of his yearning; thereafter, he returned to Rome a number of times without difficulty. Freud makes frequent reference to this phobia of his in The Interpretation of Dreams (Traumdeutung)  and in the letters to Wilhelm Fliess dating from the same period. He recounts incidents from his unsuccessful trips; he writes of dreams about his desire to reach Rome, about his sadness in failing to do so and the fear which held him back. He also indicates the cause, or rather the network of closely interlinked causes, to which he attributes his inhibition.
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