Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Wilhelm Stekel

Austrian Physician and Psychologist who became one of Sigmund Freud's earliest followers

"People who do not understand themselves have a craving for understanding."

"A pleasure not shared is only half a pleasure."

"To be able to forget and forgive is the prerogative of noble souls."

"Training through love breeds love."

"Truth is not always the best basis for happiness... There are people who perish when their eyes are open."

"Anxiety is fear of one's self."

"The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of a mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one."

"Fervid atheism is usually a screen for repressed religion."

"Many an attack of depression is nothing but the expression of regret at having to be virtuous."

"Statistics is the art of lying by means of figures."

"In reality, we are still children. We want to find a playmate for our thoughts and feelings."

"Candor is always a double-edged sword; it may heal or it may separate."

"An intense, unyielding stubbornness hides beneath an apparent obedience (the patient brings a vast number of dreams; his associations become endless; he produces an inexhaustible number of recollections, which seem to him very important but are actually of little moment; or he goes off upon some byroad suggested by the analyst and leads the latter into a blind alley). The child manifests the same reactions of defiance and obedience. The child, too, can hide his stubbornness behind an excessive docility (the parent's command: You must be industrious. Industry may become a mania so that the child neither goes out nor has time to sleep). Obedience is the giving up of the resistance; obstinacy the setting up of fresh resistances. This resistance is externally active. We have in recent years had sufficient opportunity to observe the law of resistance (the passive resistance). Activity and defiance show great differences. Defiance is the reaction against activity (aggression) of the environment. It may then manifest itself actively or passively and stands in the service of the defensive tendency of the ego.Every resistance reveals the ego (one's own) in conflict with another."

"Experience shows that this transference very soon becomes the source of resistance. Love is only a seeking for love in return, Do, ut des [I give, that thou shalt give]. If the patient notices that love is not given in return or that it has not reached that degree which he expected, defiance enters in place of the love, which in turn manifests itself as active resistance."

"Many times I had spoken about "mental bipolarity" and proved that our affects are bipolar. Desire and disgust, love and hate, will-to-power and will-to-submission, are composed of negative and positive parts like the current of electricity. My contention was that any human affect has its own counterpart. Later Bleuler described this fact as "ambivalence," a term that was accepted by everybody, whereas previously they had laughed at my discovery, and given me the nickname "Stekel with his Bipolarity"."

"Love at first sight is a revival of an infantile impression. The first love object reappears in a different disguise."

"The soldier headed out to war is in the best position. He can unleash his aggressions on his enemy and thus serve his fatherland."

"The immature man wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mature man wants to live humanely for one."

"Neurosis is the disease of a bad conscience."

"We had many interesting conversations and he introduced me to his young wife. He confided to me that he had married her because she was a fanatical atheist. Atheism was the main topic of their conversations. Such fervid atheism is usually a screen for repressed religion. The truly convinced atheist does not emphasize his atheism. He does not talk about it and is careful to avoid blasphemies. The man was interested in dreams and each morning he related several of his dreams. They were full of religious symbols. I was cautious not to reveal to him the meaning of his dreams; such off-hand analyses are always dangerous... The banker did not want to be disturbed in his supposed atheism... His atheism was a reaction formation established upon an ineradicable religious belief."