The Corner


The solution to the first part of my Math Corner in the April Diary was 2,467. Here is the relevant passage from The Psychopathology of Everyday Life:

In a letter to a friend I informed him that I had finished reading the proof-sheets of The Interpretation of Dreams, and that I did not intend to make any further changes in it, “even if it contained 2,467 mistakes.” I immediately attempted to explain to myself the number, and added this little analysis as a postscript to the letter. It will be best to quote it now as I wrote it when I caught myself in this transaction:–

“I will add hastily another contribution to the Psychopathology of Everyday Life. You will find in the letter the number 2,467 as a jocose [p. 282] and arbitrary estimation of the number of errors that may be found in the dream-book. I meant to write: no matter how large the number might be, and this one presented itself. But there is nothing arbitrary or undetermined in the psychic life. You will therefore rightly suppose that the unconscious hastened to determine the number which was liberated by consciousness. Just previous to this I had read in the paper that General E. M. had been retired as Inspector-General of Ordnance. You must know that I am interested in this man. While I was serving as military medical student he, then a colonel, once came into the hospital and said to the physician: ‘You must make me well in eight days, as I have some work to do for which the Emperor is waiting.’

“At that time I decided to follow this man’s career, and just think, to-day (1899) he is at the end of it — Inspector-General of Ordnance and already retired. I wished to figure out in what time he had covered this road, and assumed that I had seen him in the hospital in 1882. That would make 17 years. I related this to my wife, and she remarked, ‘Then you, too, should be retired.’ And I protested, ‘The Lord forbid!’ After this conversation I seated myself at the table to write to you. The previous train of thought continued, and for good reason. The figuring was incorrect; I had a definite recollection of the circumstances in my mind. [p. 283] I had celebrated my coming of my 24th birthday, in the military prison (for being absent without permission). Therefore I must have seen him in 1880, which makes it 19 years ago. You then have the number 24 in 2,467! Now take the number that represents my age, 43, and add 24 years to it and you get 67! That is, to the question whether I wished to retire I had expressed the wish to work 24 years more. Obviously I am annoyed that in the interval during which I

followed Colonel M. I have not accomplished much myself, and still there is a sort of triumph in the fact that he is already finished, while I still have all before me. Thus we may justly say that not even the unintentionally thrown-out number 2,467 lacks its determination from the unconscious.”

[Derb] So far as the swecond question is concerned, I am still evaluating…

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