Freud on Da Vinci: The Rocky Road of Psychobiographic Investigations

Daniel M. Ogilvie

in Fantasies of Flight

Published in print January 2004 | ISBN: 9780195157468
Published online April 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199894024 | DOI:
Freud on Da Vinci: The Rocky Road of Psychobiographic Investigations

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Freud wrote about dreams and fantasies of flight on at least two occasions, and in both instances he arrived at the same conclusion: images of flight in dreams and in daytime fantasies are to be understood as deflected expressions of sexual impulses. The latent meaning carried by manifest images of flying, for males anyway, is the desire for sex. Freud's position was that fantasies of levitation and interests in flight are formed and sustained as sublimated expressions of sexual instincts whose normal channels have been blocked. Sexual instincts, of course, would prefer more direct outlets. But when anxiety gets in the way, or when a person is confused about the raw nature of his or her desires, fantasies of floating above the ground or soaring through space provide at least partial release of primitive forces. This chapter presents Freud's application of his diverted sex-drive theory of imaginary flight to the life and works of Leonardo Da Vinci. In the process of considering Freud's case study of one of the world's most famous artists who aspired to fly, examples will arise of the problem with psychobiographic investigations mentioned earlier: the risk of biographers observing in others what may be more true of themselves.

Keywords: Sigmund Freud; flying dreams; flying fantasies; sexual impulses; Leonardo Da Vinci

Chapter.  5745 words. 

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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