The Wolf Man was Sigmund Freud's most famous patient, a man whose enigmatic childhood dream of being gazed at by wolves outside his bedroom window bedeviled the founding practitioners of psychoanalysis. More than simply a rich source of imagery and meaning, though, the Wolf Man case might be interpreted as the primal scene of psychoanalysis itself.
Lawrence Johnson regards the creation of the psychoanalytic case study as the writing of two livesthose of the analys and and the analystso Freud's own biography and subjective viewpoint could hardly fail to bear a direct influence on the institution of psychoanalysis. When Freud met the patient known as the Wolf Man, Johnson maintains, psychoanalysis was at an impasse because of Freud's inability to work through repressed material from his own childhood. Freud overcame this impasse through a countertransference that cast his patient in the role of a rival for the control of psychoanalysis; his means for vanquishing him set the terms for Freud's legacy to psychoanalysis.
Johnson offers a rigorous methodological framework for discussing the relationship between psychoanalytic writing and the lives of those who engage in it. He fruitfully extends the work of Nicholas Abraham, Maria Torok, and Jacques Derrida into the realm of Freud's own life. The result is both sophisticated psychobiography and psychoanalytic theory grounded firmly in historical lives.