Also known as Anna O
Guises of Desire
Vienna 1880. A wealthy young Jewish woman, Bertha Pappenheim, succumbs to a mysterious illness. Diagnosis hysteria. Her doctor, Josef Breuer, treats her with hypnosis and a new form of therapy called the 'talking cure'.
Guises of Desire is a vividly imagined account of the case of Bertha Pappenheim – the ‘Anna O’ whose treatment formed the basis of Freudian psychoanalysis. It presents the story of a young woman’s struggle to survive a repressive upbringing, neurological disorders, drug addiction and a pathological attachment to the doctor who misdiagnosed her.
“Hilda Reilly has written a novel of immense significance--a must read for anyone interested in the history of psychoanalysis. '” – Dr Terry Marks-Tarlow, author of Clinical Intuition in Psychotherapy: The Neurobiology of Embodied Response
"Hilda Reilly has written a vivid, powerful and highly readable version of Bertha’s story. The emotional turmoil of her experiences is empathetically portrayed against a carefully researched period setting and medical background. An absorbing and thought-provoking book." — Scientific and Medical Network Review
"This is a wonderful stroll through the Jewish culture of Vienna at the turn of the century, holding the hand of 'Anna O,' psychiatry's most famous patient, all the way. The local color is perfect, and Anna O becomes a believable and highly sympathetic young woman.” – Dr Edward Shorter, Hannah Professor in the History of Medicine and Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto
‘[Reilly] writes superbly well and is thoroughly informed about her subject.’
Madness and Literature Network
'Reilly’s skilful writing and thorough research offer an empathetic portrayal of the vulnerable patient who had an abnormal attachment to the doctor who misdiagnosed her. Dark and distressing, but equally interesting, powerful, and educational.' - The Lady
'... the sympathetic Hilda Reilly has wrested the famous "Anna O" from the hands of clinicians and made her a whole woman again.' - Herald Scotland
'The combination of a vivid portrayal of subjectivity with faithfulness to outer historical detail makes this a gripping story, easy to read, and providing significant insights.' Transpersonal Psychology Review
“Thanks to Hilda Reilly, Anna O. is no longer a name or a label but a real person with thoughts and feelings. Her trials and tribulations did not fit into neat diagnostic categories or reductive models of mental disorder, but reflected the aspirations, expectations, fears and taboos of the culture and society in which she lived. It is refreshing to see her side of the story, which highlights both the ambition and the limitations of psychiatry. This is a story, and a message, that desperately needs to be heard.”--Dr Neel Burton, psychiatrist and author of The Meaning of Madness
“Reilly's work is a vital contribution to understanding the birth and growth of psychoanalysis. But I also believe it's something more. It brings a soulful insight beyond the constraints of a clinical lens and allows the flawed and beautiful life of Pappenheim to take center stage. This book is a gift to anyone interested in psychoanalysis and the textures of human experience. I was moved reading it and in awe of the breadth of its scope.” – Dr Deborah Serani, author of Living with Depression.
“Historic figures often become reduced to selected details. Bertha Pappenheim is notable for many things, including being the first serious subject of Sigmund Freud and instrumental in the development of psychoanalysis. It is easy to forget that such people are, indeed, people. Even famous people have day to day lives and it is in the story of their lives that we begin to truly understand who they were and what it might have been like to be in their shoes. Hilda Reilly gives us the gift of Bertha Pappeheim's lived experience. Reilly takes us through the difficult years of the 1880's when her mental health suffered. We traverse through the mysteries of hypnotism, hysteria and hallucinations. Bertha's life was to be much more than just as a victim. Reilly leaves us with the hint of how magnificent Bertha Pappenheim's life became once she recovered, but I suspect that is another book to come. ” – Richard Hill, Director, The MindScience Institute