Psychobiography Reading Group
of the Psychohistory Forum

5th Meeting
Reading S. Freud’s Leonardo daVinci and a Memory of His Childhood
October 14th, 2023 (11:00am – 1pm EDT; room opens at 10:30 am)

The Psychobiography Research and Publication Group of the Psychohistory Forum, with the strong support of Inna Rozentsvit and Ken Fuchsman, has created the virtual Psychobiography Reading Group. Our expectation is that we will meet once in two months and that we should work hard to keep this as a serious psychoanalytic approach to psychobiography. Subsequently, our focus will be on classic works of psychodynamic psychobiography, with the bottom-up approach rather coming from explicit underlying theories.

Please note that we usually choose short readings to ensure that they will be read ahead of time.
Individuals who have not done the readings for this group will need to stay muted to establish this as a true discussion group. Participation is free, but the registration/ RSVP is required

At our 5th meeting, we will discuss Freud’s (1916) Leonardo da Vinci: A Psychosexual Study of an Infantile Reminiscence (translated by A.A. Brill), also known as Leonardo da Vinci: A Memory of His Childhood (translated by A. Tyson).

This essay by S. Freud is a reconstruction of Leonardo’s emotional life from his earliest years, it represents Freud’s first sustained venture into biography from a psychoanalytic perspective, and also his effort to trace one route that homosexual development can take. (From the publisher’s book description)


“The world loves to blacken the radiant and drag the sublime into the dust.” (From a poem by Schiller, ‘Das Mädchen von Orleans’)

“One has no right to love or to hate anything if one has not acquired a thorough knowledge of its nature.” (Leonardo da Vinci)

S. Freud: Leonardo da Vinci: A Psychosexual Study of an Infantile Reminiscence (translated by A.A. Brill)

You can read Brill’s translation online here:

Also, you can download it by following this link:

If you would like to read A. Tyson’s translation of Freud’s work, entitled Leonardo da Vinci: A Memory of His Childhood, check the link below.

S. Freud: Leonardo da Vinci: A Memory of His Childhood (translated by A. Tyson)

Download this version by following this link:

Some notes from the organizers:

Dear Members of Psychobiography Reading Group,

We are providing you with the manuscripts of two different translations of Freud’s work on Leonardo, because translations do matter. E.g., Freud mistakenly used “vulture” visiting Leonardo in his crib, instead of the bird of prey, nibio, the “kite.” Here is the excerpt from Brill’s translation (p.47):

Unfortunately, the German translation Geier (English: vulture), which Maria Herzfeld had used for the Italian word nibio in the first edition of her book Leonardo da Vinci, der Denker, Forscher und Poet was not exactly the kite Leonardo da Vinci had meant: a small hawklike bird of prey, common in the Vinci area, which is occasionally a scavenger.

This disappointed Freud because, as he confessed to Lou Andreas-Salomé in a letter of 9 February 1919, he regarded the Leonardo essay as “the only beautiful thing I have ever written” (German: “der Leonardo, das einzig Schöne, das ich je geschrieben, bereitet sich jetzt zur zweiten Auflage.”). Some Freudian scholars, such as Erich Neumann in his book Art and the Creative Unconscious, have made attempts to repair the theory by incorporating the kite.

Please choose any of two translations to read Freud’s essay in preparation for the meeting.

We also recommend reading, if you can make time, Freud’s (1901) The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, especially chapter 4, entitled “Childhood Memories and Screen Memories.” [Again, this is just a recommendation, and not a mandatory reading for this meeting.]

Download the full manuscript here:

For Chapter 4 only (on Childhood Memories and Screen Memories),
follow the link here:

Use the audiobook version of the book from LibriVox:

To learn more about our first four meetings of our Psychobiography Reading Group, visit the following webpages:

1st meeting on February 25th, 2023: Reading J. Anderson’s Chapter “Winnicott’s Constant Search for the Life that Feels Real.”

2nd meeting on April 1st, 2023: Reading E. Erikson’s Gandhi’s Truth: On the Origins of Militant Nonviolence.

3rd meeting on June 3rd, 2023: Reading E. Erikson’s Young Man Luther.

4th meeting on August 5th, 2023: Reading L. Friedman’s Identity’s Architect: A Biography of Erik H. Erikson.

RSVP form


We look forward to deepening our knowledge of this psychohistorical approach together, as we probe the lives of fascinating and important people.

If you are interested in joining this group, even if you cannot attend the meeting on October 14th, please fill out the registration form above and/or contact Inna Rozentsvit at or Paul H. Elovitz at

Best regards,

Paul Elovitz

Paul H. Elovitz, PhD, Historian, Research Psychoanalyst, Online Psychohistory Professor, Psychohistory Forum Director, and Editor, Clio’s Psyche; Author, The Making of Psychohistory: Origins, Controversies, and Pioneering Contributors (Routledge, 2018); Editor, The Many Roads of the Builders of Psychohistory (ORI Academic Press, 2021); Author/Editor of other books. See for additional information.