Category: Sergio Benvenuto

“Letter to his Father” written by Franz Kafka, details abuse by a Narcissistic Father.

Sigmund Freud released his essay “on Narcissism” in 1914.

Click on this line to view Freud’s Concept of Narcissism* by Sergio Benvenuto.

A few years after Freud released his essay, Franz Kafka wrote his Letter to his abusive narcissistic Father in 1919. The letter was given to his mother, who refused to pass it on to his father and returned it Franz.

De Kafka Brief an den Vater 001Franz Kafka [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons has Jpeg photo files of all 104 pages of Kafka’s original letter draft. Click on this line to visit the Wikimedia Commons page to view their files. Note the letter was originally written in German.

The following are only some of the heart wrenching quotes from Kafka’s Letter to his Father:

“It is also true that you hardly ever really gave me a beating. But the shouting, the way your face got red, the hasty undoing of the suspenders and laying them ready over the back of the chair, all that was almost worse for me. It is as if someone is going to be hanged. If he really is hanged, then he is dead and it is all over. But if he has to go through all the preliminaries to being hanged and he learns of his reprieve only when the noose is dangling before his face, he may suffer from it all his life.

“Besides, from the many occasions on which I had, according to your clearly expressed opinion, deserved a beating but was let off at the last moment by your grace, I again accumulated only a huge sense of guilt. On every side I was to blame, I was in your debt.”

“You have always reproached me (either alone or in front of others, since you have no feeling for the humiliation of the latter, and your children’s affairs were always public)”

“There is only one episode in the early years of which I have a direct memory. You may remember it, too. One night I kept on whimpering for water, not, I am certain, because I was thirsty, but probably partly to be annoying, partly to amuse myself. After several vigorous threats had failed to have any effect, you took me out of bed, carried me out onto the pavlatche,* and left me there alone for a while in my nightshirt, outside the shut door. I am not going to say that this was wrong—perhaps there was really no other way of getting peace and quiet that night—but I mention it as typical of your methods of bringing up a child and their effect on me. I dare say I was quite obedient afterward at that period, but it did me inner harm. What was for me a matter of course, that senseless asking for water, and then the extraordinary terror of being carried outside were Two things that I, my nature being what it was, could never properly connect with each other. Even years afterward I suffered from the tormenting fancy that the huge man, my father, the ultimate authority, would come almost for no reason at all and take me out of bed in the night and carry me out onto the pavlatche, and that consequently I meant absolutely nothing as far as he was concerned. *Pavlatche is the Czech word for the long balcony in the inner courtyard of old houses in Prague. (Ed.)”

“That was only a small beginning, but this feeling of being nothing that often dominates me (a feeling that is in another respect, admittedly, also a noble and fruitful one) comes largely from your influence.”

“And it is characteristic that even today you really only encourage me in anything when you yourself are involved in it, when what is at stake is your own sense of self-importance

“What was always incomprehensible to me was your total lack of feeling for the suffering and shame you could inflict on me with your words and judgments. “

You reinforced abusiveness with threats and this applied to me too. How terrible for me was, for instance, that “I’ll tear you apart like a fish,” although I knew, of course, that nothing worse was to follow (admittedly, as a little child I didn’t know that)”

I am of the opinion that it would be time well spent reading Kafka’s entire letter. It may shock you. It may also bring a tear to your eye. If you find that you can personally relate to the abuse which Kafka described, my heart goes out you. No child (or adult for that matter) deserves such treatment.

The pain and suffering is internalized by the child. When the child internalizes the repeated Traumas, it results in pain and suffering well into adulthood (possibly life long).

A full English translation is available online thanks to Google Docs. Click on this line to visit the Google Docs page which displays the English translation of Franz Kafka’ Letter to his Father.

Click on this line to visit the The Kafka Project site, which has an interesting review of Kafka’s Letter to his Father.

May I also make a suggestion. It should not be taken as my giving any sort of medical advice. Speak to your own Therapist or Physician or other Medical Professional about whether it might be an “educational idea” for you to write your own letter to your past (or still present) abusive Narcissist. Again, doing so would be for your own personal and educational purposes. It is “my opinion” that any such  letter should be retained by you and not given to anyone. Again speak to your own Medical Professional about how to proceed, should you and your Medical Professional decide to go ahead with such a letter.

Video courtesy of The School of Life YouTube channel

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