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Morphine, Literature, Psychoanalysis

Hobrechtstrasse, 66 Berlin, 12047
Mental Health


Personal drama, 'madness', addictions, and literary creativity have been interfering with the first steps of psychoanalysis in Austro-Hungarian Empire. The case of Géza Csáth, a gifted Hungarian psychiatrist, writer, and music critic, yet also a morphine addict that murdered his wife and committed suicide shortly after, can be a good example. The lecture will be devoted to his personal writings and drawings, evolution of psychiatry and psychoanalysis in the region, as well as Csáth's own system presented in the study Az elmebetegségek pszichikus mechanizmusáról [Of the Mental Mechanism of Madmen] in its relationship to Jung's doctoral thesis, and his controversial legend that still inspires artists, writers, and filmmakers in different countries.

Born in Szabadka-Subotica in Austro-Hungarian Vojvodina, today a part of the Republic of Serbia, he began writing his diary at the age of ten and published his first texts at the age of sixteen. In 1904, he came to Budapest to study music, but after the refusal of his candidature by the Academy, he chose medicine and became a psychiatrist.

Csáth was one of the first in Hungary to eagerly follow the discoveries of Sigmund Freud and those of Carl Gustav Jung. He wrote a book strongly inspired by Jung's doctoral thesis, known under the title Egy elmebeteg nő naplója [The Diary of a Madwoman], and a few other medical articles. His best-known works are five volumes of short stories published from 1908 to 1913, collected today under the title Mesék, amelyek rosszul végződnek [The Stories without a Happy Ending]. He also wrote a few plays, and numerous musical reviews and essays. In 1910, Csáth became addicted to morphine, a condition that afflicted him for the rest of his life and could have contributed to the murder of his wife and his suicide in 1919.

Mateusz Chmurski, PhD, is currently Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. He graduated in Polish Literature, Art history and Slavonic studies at the Universities of Warsaw and Paris-Sorbonne and conducted his doctoral research under joined supervision (Paris-Warsaw, 2008-2012). Recent publications include the monograph Journal, fiction et identité(s). Modernité littéraire d'Europe centrale (1880-1920) (2017), as well as three volumes of studies on Central-European literatures (Problemy literatury i kultury modernizmu Europy Środkowej i Wschodniej, 2017). International postdoctoral fellow at Université libre de Bruxelles (2016-2017), discerned by the scholarship of the Foundation for Polish Science (2015, 2016) and Prix Hungarica (2012).

Collage: Jorge Chamorro,

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