Salvador Dali Meets Sigmund Freud: Paranoia, Narcissism, Snails


Salvador Dali Meets Sigmund Freud: Paranoia, Narcissism, Snails


John J. Hartman, Ph.D.

Affiliate Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, University of South Florida.


This paper examines the meeting between the artist Salvador Dalí and Sigmund Freud that took place in London in July of 1938. Freud had just escaped from the Nazi regime in Austria and was about a year away from death. Dalí had been influenced by Freud’s work for many years and had sought to meet his idol on several previous occasions. The meeting, arranged by Freud’s friend, Stefan Zweig, and attended by the poet, Edward James, is noteworthy in that Dalí brought his painting, “Metamorphosis of Narcissus,” a treatise on the subject of paranoia, and sketched Freud’s head conceived as a snail. The paper offers perspectives on each of these events. The meeting is seen in the context of Freud’s artistic sensibility and his relationship to Surrealism. For Dalí the meeting served as a way to break with Surrealism and led to a revised philosophy of art. The paper concludes with the speculation that the meeting was experienced by the artist as an idealizing/envious narcissistic transference with Freud, thus replicating the theme of the painting that the artist had brought with him.


Keywords: Breton; Dali; Death instinct; Envy; Sigmund Freud; Lacan; Mirror phase; Mirror transference; Narcissism; Paranoia; Surrealism

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How to cite this article:
John J. Hartman. Salvador Dali Meets Sigmund Freud: Paranoia, Narcissism, Snails. American Journal of Psychiatric Research and Reviews, 2020; 3:25. DOI: 10.28933/ajprr-2020-10-2005


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