He didn’t notice snow falling in the Krankenhaus courtyard the night he fell in love. A mere intern, castrated by Jew-hating med school professors...
I take very small doses of it regularly against depression and against indigestion and with the most brilliant of success.
-Freud in a letter to his fiancÃ©, Martha Bernays, 1884
I need a lot of cocaine.
-Freud in a letter to his colleague, Wilhelm Fliess, 1895
He didn’t notice snow falling in the Krankenhaus
courtyard the night he fell in love. A mere intern,
castrated by Jew-hating med school professors,
yearning for Martha in his cell-like room with no one
except himself to pleasure, the pfennig-pinching Dr Freud
ordered his first dose for 30 gulden direct from Merck.
Oh, it was love at first taste, the pure white powder
downed with water, sex aroused, a partner who powered
him hard until 4 AM. He bragged to his fiancÃ©
that coca swelled him into a stud, sent her vials,
shilled for Parke-Davis, hooked his best friend.
Before Charcot’s parties, he spooned a dose to untie
his tongue, kept using to treat the crash, to beat off
fatigue so fierce he swore he had cancer, used
through angina, kept snorting when nodules
mushroomed his septum and blocked his breathing.
In this blizzard of denial and addiction he shtupped
his wife’s sister Minna until he found his soul
mate, the deluded Dr Fliess, who believed in
a direct genital-nose connection. Coking up high
strung Irma, they severed a slab of her turbinates,
spilling her blood in a near-death hemorrhage.
Haunted by nightmares of his folly, he revised her
history in the dream interpretation that made his name.
Years later, the master declared all drugs replace
the “primary addiction” of masturbation, but never
revealed how, twelve years deep into coca,
he suddenly laid down his silver spoon
and summoned the strength to kick.
Dr Berlin is Senior Affiliate in Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. E-mail: Richard.Berlin@gmail.com. His most recent collection of poetry, PRACTICE, is published by Brick Road Poetry Press.