A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis

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Wordsworth Editions Limited, 2012 - Psychoanalysis - 416 pages
3 Reviews
Sigmund Freud’s controversial ideas have penetrated Western culture more deeply than those of any other psychologist. The ‘Freudian slip’, the ‘Oedipus complex’, ‘childhood sexuality’, ‘libido’, ‘narcissism’ ‘penis envy’, the ‘castration complex’, the ‘id’, the ‘ego’ and the ‘superego’, ‘denial’, ‘repression’, ‘identification’, ‘projection’, ‘acting out’, the ‘pleasure principle’, the ‘reality principle’, ‘defence-mechanism’ – are all taken for granted in our everyday vocabulary.

Psychoanalysis was never just a method of treatment, rather a vision of the human condition which has continued to fascinate and provoke long after the death of its originator.Its central hypothesis, that we live in conflict with ourselves and seek to resolve matters by turning away from reality, did not emerge from experimental science but from self-examination and the unique opportunities for observation presented by the psychoanalytic technique – in particular, from the confessions produced by ‘free-association’ in Freud’s consulting room. Written during the turmoil of the First World War, A General Introduction to Psychoanalysiswas distilled from a series of lectures given at Vienna University, but had to wait for the war to end before being made available to the English speaking world.

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User Review  - Scribble.Orca - LibraryThing

Male chauvinist. Nothing closet about him at all. The wonder is that he is still given any credence. If ever there was advice to be applied to the "teacher", it would be this: Physician, heal thyself. Read full review

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User Review  - P_S_Patrick - LibraryThing

This book of around 500 pages consists of the transcripts of a series of 28 lectures on Psychoanalysis first delivered by Freud nearly a hundred years ago. His style is conversational, playful even ... Read full review

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About the author (2012)

Sigmund Freud was the founder of psychoanalysis, simultaneously a theory of personality, a therapy, and an intellectual movement. He was born into a middle-class Jewish family in Freiburg, Moravia, now part of Czechoslovakia, but then a city in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. At the age of 4, he moved to Vienna, where he spent nearly his entire life. In 1873 he entered the medical school at the University of Vienna and spent the following eight years pursuing a wide range of studies, including philosophy, in addition to the medical curriculum. After graduating, he worked in several clinics and went to Paris to study under Jean-Martin Charcot, a neurologist who used hypnosis to treat the symptoms of hysteria. When Freud returned to Vienna and set up practice as a clinical neurologist, he found orthodox therapies for nervous disorders ineffective for most of his patients, so he began to use a modified version of the hypnosis he had learned under Charcot. Gradually, however, he discovered that it was not necessary to put patients into a deep trance; rather, he would merely encourage them to talk freely, saying whatever came to mind without self-censorship, in order to bring unconscious material to the surface, where it could be analyzed. He found that this method of free association very often evoked memories of traumatic events in childhood, usually having to do with sex. This discovery led him, at first, to assume that most of his patients had actually been seduced as children by adult relatives and that this was the cause of their neuroses; later, however, he changed his mind and concluded that his patients' memories of childhood seduction were fantasies born of their childhood sexual desires for adults. (This reversal is a matter of some controversy today.) Out of this clinical material he constructed a theory of psychosexual development through oral, anal, phallic and genital stages. Freud considered his patients' dreams and his own to be "the royal road to the unconscious." In The Interpretation of Dreams (1900), perhaps his most brilliant book, he theorized that dreams are heavily disguised expressions of deep-seated wishes and fears and can give great insight into personality. These investigations led him to his theory of a three-part structure of personality: the id (unconscious biological drives, especially for sex), the superego (the conscience, guided by moral principles), and the ego (the mediator between the id and superego, guided by reality). Freud's last years were plagued by severe illness and the rise of Nazism, which regarded psychoanalysis as a "Jewish pollution." Through the intervention of the British and U.S. governments, he was allowed to emigrate in 1938 to England, where he died 15 months later, widely honored for his original thinking. His theories have had a profound impact on psychology, anthropology, art, and literature, as well as on the thinking of millions of ordinary people about their own lives. Freud's daughter Anna Freud was the founder of the Hampstead Child Therapy Clinic in London, where her specialty was applying psychoanalysis to children. Her major work was The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense (1936).

Tom Griffith has also translated Plato's The Republic, Symposium, Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Phaedo, and Phaedrus.

Stephen Wilson was Professor of Conceptual and Information Arts at San Francisco State University.

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