Moser-von Sulzer-Wart, Fanny Louise (1848-1925)
MOSER-VON SULZER-WART, FANNY LOUISE (1848-1925)
Fanny Louise Moser, née von Sulzer-Wart, was born in Switzerland on July 29, 1848, and died in Au, near Zürich, on April 2, 1925. She was the patient described in Freud's Studies an Hysteria (1895d) under the pseudonym of Emmy von N. Ola Andersson discovered her identity in 1965 and Henri F. Ellenberger completed her biography in 1977.
She was the thirteenth of fourteen children born to a rich aristocratic family. Reared by a mother who is described as severe and austere, she caused a scandal in her milieu on December 28, 1870, when she married Heinrich Moser, a rich industrialist forty-two years her senior. They had two daughters, Fanny, born on May 27, 1872, and Mentona (named after the town Menton in the south of France) on October 19, 1873.
Following her husband's sudden death in 1874, his son from a previous marriage contested the will that made Fanny an extremely wealthy widow, and rumors began to spread to the effect that she had poisoned her husband. She demanded an autopsy, which proved to be negative, but the suspicions remained.
From 1875 to 1877 she traveled from one spa town to another but finally settled in a sumptuous residence she acquired near Zürich, where she could lead the sophisticated social life she desired. She is said to have had numerous lovers and her visitor's book bears witness to the social standing of her guests. It also records visits by Auguste Forel and Eugen Bleuler, among other physicians. Freud figures there on July 18, 1889.
She commenced the cure described in the first case study in Studies on Hysteria on the first of May preceding Freud's visit. The treatment ended in June but Freud visited her in the course of a journey to meet Hippolyte Bernheim in Nancy.
We know that he treated her for another eight weeks in 1890 and saw her again in the spring of 1891. On that occasion he stayed in her residence for a few days because she was having difficulties with her older daughter. He also resumed her treatment briefly. Relations between them did not end on a good note, as evidenced by the slip of paper masking his signature in her visitor's book, the usual sign that someone had fallen from grace in her eyes.
In a note added to her case history in 1924 Freud recounts that some years after that last visit he met a doctor with whom she had behaved as she had with him: docile and easy to hypnotize in the beginning, then irritable and subject to relapses. "It was a genuine instance of the compulsion to repeat." We know that toward the end of her life she fell passionately in love with a younger man who persuaded her to part with some of her fortune. The letter Freud received in about 1920 from her older daughter probably corresponded to this situation. The daughter asked him for a certificate because she wanted to make a legal case against the "cruel despot" who had estranged Moser's two children.
She died on April 2, 1925, and was buried in the Kilchberg cemetery near Zürich.
Alain de Mijolla
See also: Emmy von N, case of.
Anderson, Ola. (1962). Studies in the prehistory of psychoanalysis. Stockholm: Svenska Bokförlaget.
Ellenberger, Henri F. (1977). L'histoire d'Emmy von N. L'Évolution psychiatrique, 42 (3/1), 519-540.
Freud, Sigmund, and Breuer, Josef. (1895d). Studies on hysteria. SE, 2: 48-106.