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Word Count: 1,681
In the case history of Anna O Freuds coworker Breuer makes no mention of when Anna coins the phrase private theatre The abstraction reveals in itself two distinct personalities and thus a notable self-awareness It cannot be that in the midst of a daydream she described the experience as then she would no longer be daydreaming Nor does the thought seem haphazard It is a most refined abstraction revealing at least a partial understanding of the nature of her fantasiesltif not the nature of her disease It is coherent and artful German the product of intelligent reflection It is a wonder both that she was capable of this level of understanding after three pages and that Breuerltand Freuds invisible handltnever tell us exactly how far they had traveled in order to arrive there Since the case history hides the context the only way to make sense of the phrase is by trusting Breuers explanation He writes The girl who was bubbling over with intellectual vitality led an extremely monotonous existence in her puritanically-minded family She embellished her life in a manner which probably influenced her decisively in the direction of her illness by indulging in systematic day-dreaming which she described as her Oeprivate theatre While everyone thought she was attending she was living through fairy tales in her imagination She pursued this activity almost continuously while she was engaged on her household duties which she discharged unexceptionally The long quotation is the best path to understanding the relationship of the phrase to the patient What emerges first is a world of opposites intellectual vitality pitted against a monotonous existence fairy tales against attending activity against household duties Thus private theatre is more than simply day-daydreaming It is an escape from a specific setting a fortress buttressed against her puritanically minded family Yet her household duties are still discharged Unlike the final direction of her illness daydreaming is a silent and unnoticeable rebellion At this
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