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  • Subject



    "All patients like to speak of the causes of their neurosis and especially to find a scapegoat to lay the blame on: 'If only so and so had not treated me like that how different I should be!' Many of them develop a passion for Kausalitätsschnüffelei, and unless the doctor is very wary he falls into the trap as well."


    ... for sniffling out (alleged?) causal reasons ...?

    Author Ferenczi (237228) 28 Jul 20, 13:08

    Ich würds "causality snooping" nennen... aber das ist jetzt mehr so ein unfundiertes aus dem Bauch heraus Ding...

    #1Author JayVienna (1269945) 28 Jul 20, 14:29

    Odd word. Sounds as if the author had made it up. It’s certainly not a dictionary word. In this context I take it to mean “obsessively trying to find, and seeing, causes and connections where there are none.” So yes, “sniffing [without the ‘l’!] out causes” might work.

    (Edit: I like "causality snooping"!)

    Is this a German word in an otherwise English text? If so, why do you need to translate it at all, if I may ask? Also, a bit more context might help. The style sounds a bit dated; how old is the text? If it’s from the first heyday of psychoanalysis in the early 20th century, the author may have thrown in an unwieldy, made-up German term just to give the whole thing a bit of a Viennese, Freudian flavor. Just guessing, of course.

    #2Authorredcranes (766941)  28 Jul 20, 14:31

    Als deutsches Wort findet sich der Begriff online nur in einem Text, der auf dem ersten Blick nichts mit Patienten und Neurosen zu tun hat :

     ... 666.  Yori [d.i. Alexander Graf von Brockdorff]: Ur We We. Uranische Weltwende. Vom Sinn dieser Zeit. Mit neun Bildern nach Walter Grammatté (1897-1929). Erstausg. Berlin, AGV-Verlag Dr. Richard Pape, 1932. 3 Bll., 103 S., 1 Bl., mit 9 Taf., 4°, Illus. O-Leinen mit     O-Umschlag 90,00 €

    Die Verbindung von Ereignissen nach Ursache u. Wirkung ist eine untergeordnete. "Zur tieferen Einsicht gelangen wir erst, wenn wir die geheimen, jeder Kausalitätsschnüffelei entzogenen Querverbindungen des Geschehens erkennen [...] Der Geist dieses Zeitalters ist das dämonische Chaos; Panchaotismus ist das Weltgefühl der Zeit. Ich habe dieses Zeitalter das uranische genannt, intuitiv, lange ehe ich den Mythos des Uranos kannte, der mir dann recht gab." (Principia) - U.a. über: Europa in Flammen; Gendarmen im Gralstempel [Ernst Oskar Bernhardt]; ...

    #3Author no me bré (700807) 28 Jul 20, 17:01

    @ #3: Thank you - makes me wonder all the more how old Ferenczi’s text is. Maybe “Kausalitätsschnüffelei” was a buzzword that was briefly en vogue in the 30s, so the author could assume that his (?) readers would be familiar with it? Once again, it would help to know whether the original is English or German.

    #4Authorredcranes (766941) 28 Jul 20, 17:23

    It's actually a translation of a lecture by C. G. Jung---1935 (the lecture). Just "snooping into causes" might be enough here.

    #5AuthorBion (1092007)  28 Jul 20, 19:06

    But doesn't "snooping" imply prying into someone else's business?

    #6AuthorHecuba - UK (250280) 28 Jul 20, 21:07

    @ #6: It does, but so does "Schnüffelei," at least in today's understanding of the word.

    #7Authorredcranes (766941) 28 Jul 20, 21:15


    Hmmm. I don’t think it need be other people’s business necessarily, only what doesn’t (or evidently in Jung’s opinion) shouldn’t concern someone/a patient. OED views the term in this sense: To pry into matters one need not be concerned with (sense 2b).

    (I guess one might also consider “sleuthing” : “sleuthing causes”—it’s a different idea and it doesn’t quite capture the disparaging tone of Schnüffelei in the way that “snooping” does; “sleuthing” doesn’t necessarily entail censure the way “snooping” tends to do.)

    #8AuthorBion (1092007)  28 Jul 20, 21:15
    I think 'sniffing out'* is the closest to the original so far. Because Jung is so famous, it seems important to make some effort to preserve his imagery, even though here it's very unkind and condescending, in effect comparing patients to dogs sniffing out the scent of something they're chasing after.

    But you can't really use a noun to modify the gerund in English as in #1, it would just be too stilted and unidiomatic. Even 'sniffing out / sniffing (around) after causality' is a little strange, probably in the original as well. But I might be inclined to let that ungainly abstract noun stand, because there is a sense in which what patients long for is a larger, unifying principle of causality, the feeling that they can rely on an entire universe of cause and effect, not just the immediate cause or explanation for a particular problem or symptom.

    You might even consider the verb 'snuffle,' which I think does exist in English, though it's probably less common than the German apparent cognate. I'm not sure if it would quite fit with the 1930s time period or not. And I don't think it collocates with 'out'; you would have to say something like 'snuffling around after causality,' which may just be too long.

    Not sure if any of that helps, but for what it's worth.

    If it's a known lecture, surely there's an existing translation? Or if the word is a favorite of it, does it show up in other texts and therefore other translations? I would be curious to know what expert translators have already made of the question.

    *without an L, as noted above. To sniffle is to have a slightly runny nose, as from sadness or from a cold.
    #9Author hm -- us (236141)  29 Jul 20, 01:49

    I like redcranes's idea of “sniffing out,” too; also maybe “sniffing around for.” I wonder if Jung's choice of this word here doesn’t to some extent reflect his contempt for Freud’s mechanistic “materialist” approach. I personally probably wouldn’t stick to an abstraction in the E. In the context of the rather informal E. of the OP I think it would stick out in a way it (I imagine, probably, I don’t have access to the G.), for whatever reason, might not in the German.

    #10AuthorBion (1092007) 29 Jul 20, 08:49

    Agree with #9 and #10.

    Now that we know it’s Jung (Ferenzci could have saved us a bit of speculation if s/he'd told us :-) there’s even a connection with the text unearthed by no me bre in #3 that, as he says, “auf den ersten Blick nichts mit Patienten und Neurosen zu tun hat.” But “Kausalitätsschnüffelei” is used in the same spirit there, to dismiss an overly rational worldview that does not acknowledge the existence of larger forces at work. So I think Bion is right on; it probably does “reflect his contempt for Freud’s mechanistic approach.” Maybe it really was a term bandied about at the time that would have elicited a knowing chuckle from a lecture audience. (Guesswork, guesswork. :-)

    #11Authorredcranes (766941) 29 Jul 20, 09:02

    "Psychological research shows that people's thoughts about the causal relationships between events influences their judgments of the plausibility of counterfactual alternatives, and conversely, their counterfactual thinking about how a situation could have turned out differently changes their judgments of the causal role of events and agents."


    just a suggestion:

    "sniffing out causal relationships"

    #12Author Marianne (BE) (237471) 29 Jul 20, 09:56

    First of all, thx to all! And yes, it's from a lecture Jung gave in 1935. There are notes from several note takers (one set of them in English, the others in German), which I compile into one text, and then translate the German passages into English for publication. In this particular instance, most of the phrase is taken from the English notes, but one Swiss listener marked "Kausalitätsschnüffelei" as a direct quote, and I'd like to carry over that colorful expression into English.

    This much said, I like Marianne's #12 "sniffing out causal relationships." It's actually pretty close to my own try in the OP (except for the typo, of course, for which my apologies).

    I'd never heard the word before, and I'm grateful for no me bré's info in #3.

    Ad Bion #10: I think you may well be right, although there's no way to prove it since Freud is not mentioned in this context. BTW, would your nick's first name be Wilfred?

    Thx again.

    #13Author Ferenczi (237228) 29 Jul 20, 14:48

    Hi Ferenczi,

    It sounds like an interesting project; glad we could be of help! In future posts, could you maybe give us the text's original language as well as the time period it was written in? In this case, the info would have saved us quite a bit of guesswork.

    #14Authorredcranes (766941) 29 Jul 20, 15:02

    I was reading the analyst Wilfred Bion when I appropriated the name, yes, Learning from Experience, Attention and Interpretation, Cogitations.


    It’s also the Latin script form of Βίων ὁ Σμυρναῖος, Bion of Smyrna, a poet of the late Hellenic period (fl. ca. 100 BC), whose work time has ground down to seventeen fragments and of whose life almost nothing is known.

    #15AuthorBion (1092007) 29 Jul 20, 16:13

    redcranes #14: You are right. My apologies, and noted.

    My #13: not "compile," but "collate." Oops.

    Special thanks to hm -- us. You are always helpful.

    #16Author Ferenczi (237228) 29 Jul 20, 22:29

    Nothing wrong with to compile as the verb - only the tense was wrong. It should (presumably) have been which I am compiling...

    #17Author amw (532814) 30 Jul 20, 11:36
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