Estate of Margarethe Trautenegg
Margarethe (von) Trautenegg (1900–1999), née Csonka, was born into the upper echelons of Viennese society and sent to Sigmund Freud by her parents due to her lesbian tendencies. Although she initially agreed to undergo psychoanalytic treatment she was outraged when Freud confronted her with “Oedipal tendencies”, i.e. her unconscious love of her father. In the eyes of an inexperienced young woman these were “an old doctor’s dirty fantasies”, that she apparently could neither handle nor cope with. Even decades after she had finished her analysis, Margarethe Trautenegg would indignantly refer to Freud as a “complete idiot”.
Freud finally discontinued Trautenegg’s treatment as his patient did not display any symptoms of suffering nor was she motivated to cooperate, projecting her hostility towards men onto the analyst instead. He suggested that, if required, the treatment should be continued with a female analyst. In fact, the eighteen-year-old had put on an act for Freud, talking about harmless incidents so as to reassure her father and persuade him to give his consent to her friendship with Leonie Puttkamer, whom she adored.
Freud described the case in The Psychogenesis of a Case of Homosexuality in a Woman published in 1920. In his only work dealing with lesbian desire Freud pointed out that it was not for psychoanalysis to solve the mystery of homosexuality – nor could it “elucidate the intrinsic nature of what in conventional or in biological phraseology is termed ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’.”
Under the Nazi regime Margarethe Trautenegg emigrated to Cuba where she resumed her former hobby, portraiture, before returning to Vienna via Paris in 1949. She spent most of her twilight years travelling, until she died in Vienna in 1999, almost one hundred years old.
In 2004, following the publication of their book on Margarethe Trautenegg, Heimliches Begehren. Die Geschichte der Sidonie C., the two authors, Ines Rieder and Diana Voigt, donated Margarethe Trautenegg’s estate to the Sigmund Freud Private Foundation, together with tape recordings and transcripts of interviews. Many of the photographs show paintings by the ardent portraitist.
Pictures (c) Sigmund Freud Privatstiftung