Freud's case study was condemned in its first review as a form of mental masturbation, an immoral misuse of his medical position. An obscure English physician, Ernest Jones was led by the study to become a psychoanalyst, gaining "a deep impression of there being a man in Vienna who actually listened to every word his patients said to him...a true psychologist". Carl Jung also took up the study enthusiastically.
The middle years
By mid-century, Freud's study had gained general psychoanalytic acceptance, Otto Fenichel for example citing her cough as evidence of identification with Frau K, her mutism as a reaction to the loss of Herr K. Jacques Lacan singled out for technical praise Freud's stressing of Dora's implication in "the great disorder of her father's world...she was in fact the mainspring of it".
Erik Erikson however took issue with Freud's claim that Dora must necessarily have responded positively at some level to Herr K's advances: "I wonder how many of us can follow without protest today Freud's assertion that a healthy young girl would, under such circumstances, have considered Herr K's advances 'neither tactless nor offensive'"
Feminist and later criticisms
Second-wave feminism would develop Erikson's point with a vengeance, as part of a wider assault of Freud and psychoanalysis. Freud's comment that "This was surely just the situation to call up distinct feelings of sexual excitement in a girl of fourteen", in reference to Dora being kissed by a "young man of prepossessing appearance", was seen as revealing a crass insensitivity to the realities of adolescent female sexuality.
Toril Moi was speaking for many when she accused Freud of phallocentrism, and his study of being a 'Representation of Patriarchy'; while Hélène Cixous would see Dora as a symbol of "silent revolt against male power over women's bodies and women's language...a resistant heroine". (Catherine Clément however would argue that as a mute hysteric, in flight from therapy, Dora was surely far less of a feminist role model than the independent career woman Anna O.).
Even those sympathetic to Freud would take issue with his inquisitorial approach, Janet Malcolm describing him as "more like a police inspector interrogating a suspect than like a doctor helping a patient". Peter Gay too would question Freud's "insistent tone...The rage to cure was upon him"; and conclude that not only the tranference but also his own countertransference needed more attention from Freud, at this early stage of development of psychoanalytic technique.