Fluss, Gisela (1859-?)

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FLUSS, GISELA (1859-?)

Gisela Fluss, born on September 26, 1859, was the daughter of Ignaz and Eleonora Fluss, a family friendly with Jakob and Amalia Freud after the Freuds left Freiberg, Moravia. She was the sister of Emil Fluss, who became a friend and correspondent of Freud during his adolescence. She is known as Freud's first "love experience." The date of her death is not known.

Gisela met Freud when he was staying with the family in 1871. Gisela appears to have been associated with the romantic infatuation that had gripped the fifteen-year old FreudGisela was only twelveduring his return to his birthplace, an infatuation that Freud cryptically referred to in "Screen Memories" (1899a).

When he was again in Freiberg the following year, Freud mentioned Gisela in letters describing his vacation written to his friend Eduard Silberstein (1989a [1871-1881, 1910]). On August 17, 1872, he wrote, "So let me just say that I took a fancy to the eldest, by the name of Gisela, who leaves tomorrow, and that her absence will give me back a sense of security about my behavior that I have not had up to now." On September 4 he again wrote to Silberstein: "I have soothed all my turbulent thoughts and only flinch slightly when her mother mentions Gisela's name at table. The affection appeared like a beautiful spring day, and only the nonsensical Hamlet in me, my diffidence stood in the way of my finding it a refreshing pleasure to converse with the half-naïve, half-cultured young lady."

In fact, these letters show that the young Freud harbored greater enthusiasm for Eleonora, Gisela's mother, "a woman none of her children can completely equal." In the letter of September 4, Freud went on to write, "She [the mother] can never have been beautiful, but a witty, jaunty fire must always have sparkled in her eyes, as it does now. Gisela's beauty, too, is wild, I might say Thracian: the aquiline nose, the long black hair, and the firm lips come from the mother, the dark complexion and the sometimes indifferent expression from the father."

Allusions to Gisela appeared in letters from 1873 and 1874 but disappeared after Gisela told Freud's sisters, in 1875, of a trip to Italy. Her engagement in 1874 and her being called an ichthyosaur by students among themselves remain in dispute. It is known, however, that on February 27, 1881, in Vienna, she married a businessman from Presbourg (near Bratislava) by the name of Emil Popper.

There is some mystery about her reappearance in Freud's report of his November 18, 1907, session with the Rat Man, when, instead of the name of his patient, Freud wrote her name "Dame Gisela" (1955a [1907-1908]). He added three exclamation points after this slip, which was never analyzed by Freud and has remained unexplained.

Alain de Mijolla

See also: Silberstein, Eduard.


Freud, Sigmund. (1899a). Screen memories. SE, 3: 299-322.

. (1955a [1907-1908]). Notes upon a case of obsessional neurosis. SE, 10: 151-318.

. (1989a [1871-1881, 1910]). The letters of Sigmund Freud to Eduard Silberstein, 1871-1881 (Arnold J. Pomerans, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 1990.