On Sunday night June 11 I had the following dream about flowers; the scene of the dream was the house where I lived until age 12, when we moved in April 1966.

In the spring of 1965, when I was 11, the following events transpired.  I had the idea that I wanted to be a world famous scientist.  I wanted to win a Nobel Prize in medicine.  My first recollection of the Nobel was in the fall of 1964 (age 10), months earlier.  Martin Luther King, Jr. had won the Peace Prize and my mother was incensed: “So now a convict gets a Nobel Prize!” My mother had strong racist convictions.

I had the idea that I would infect myself with poison ivy, a flowering plant, and then find a cure for the resulting rash.  I stripped off the leaves of a poison ivy plant and rubbed them all over my face.  I came down with a horrible rash and suffered terribly.  When I went to school my sixth grade teacher (Olga Kaempfer), fearing that I had an infectious disease,  1/ sent me to see the school nurse (Rose Heckman).  Mrs. Heckman said I had a poison ivy infection and told me to apply calamine lotion.  Thus, my hopes of a brilliant future as a research scientist were dashed!  I would be forced to find another road to world historical glory !  That road would turn out to involve my relationship with Bob Strauss.

Freud’s dream of the botanical monograph related, in Freud’s analysis, to his earlier work on cocaine, derived from the coca plant.  Like me, Freud had experimented on himself with cocaine.  Freud too had a lifelong desire to win a Nobel Prize; he was nominated for 12 years, but the nominations ceased forever when the Nobel committee engaged an expert who said that Freud’s work was of no proven scientific worth.

Oddly enough, on the day after I had the dream, on June 12, I started to think of this anecdote but did not relate it to the dream about the astorias.  This eruption of memory — seemingly unrelated to anything else I was thinking about at the moment — was clearly related to my having had the dream the night before.

(I once mentioned the Nobel Prize to Dr. Palombo.  He cut me off saying: “That’s grandiose!”  Psychoanalysts should not cut off patients !!  That’s not psychoanalytical !!)


1/ At age 3 I came down with scarlet fever.  Our house had to be quarantined by the Philadelphia Department of Health.  (scarlet fever = deep red astorias?)