Goethe was obsessed with himself: his recollections and his fantasies — it was a coping mechanism in the days before psychoanalysis. Sound familiar?


“Goethe’s ability to remain dedicated to life and to his creativity, despite
severe emotional crises, is of special psychological interest. His frequently self flagellating preoccupation with memories and fantasies stabilized him throughout his life. Self-reflection, political and scientific work, as well as poetic writing were indispensable for him to overcome emotional turmoil, relational conflicts, and mood swings.

* * * *

It was through reflection, fantasy, and literary creation that Goethe was able to perceive, to endure, and to overcome his conflicts. Although he was dealing with his own personal anxieties and difficulties, he also found generally
applicable strategies for solving both social conflicts and individual conflicts.

Throughout his long life, he suffered bitter disappointments and was subject to
severe mood swings. Many people – not only his mother, father, and sister, but
also numerous friends, both men and women – helped him to cope with
psychological crises in a creative way. During his childhood and youth, he
exhibited a strong desire to be noticed, acknowledged, and validated, a need that he was fortunate enough to have complied with by those around him.”