8 months ago

Sigmund Freud


————‘On Narcissism’ (1914), SE 14:67–102; PFL 11:59–97. ‘On Narcissism’ is an important but difficult article in which Freud wrestles with the definitions of many concepts that become central to psychoanalysis in the 1920s and 1930s. It discusses the importance of infantile narcissism to development and introduces the idea of the ego ideal that later becomes the basis for the super-ego. ————‘Remembering, Repeating and Working Through’ (1914), SE 12:147–56. The ‘working through’ of resistances is a fundamental part of the analytic process. This short article does not finally define the term in a completely satisfying way, but it is worth reading none the less. ————‘On the History of the Psychoanalytic Movement’ (1914), SE 14:7–66; PFL 15:59– 127. Watch out for this one – Freud wrote it at a moment when he was particularly bitter towards some of his ex-friends (such as Jung) and beleaguered by criticisms and attacks. It is a very defensive text, interesting in lots of ways, but by no means perfect as an introduction. ————‘Mourning and Melancholia’ (1917), SE 14:237–58; PFL 11:245–68. This short article is one of Freud’s most compelling. He returns again to the problem of loss; psychoanalysis is replete with images of loss, but he is rarely this eloquent. ————‘From the History of an Infantile Neurosis (the Wolf Man)’ (1918), SE 17:1–122; PFL 9:227–366. In this case history Freud defines extremely important psychoanalytic concepts such as construction and the primal scene. ————‘The “Uncanny”’ (1919), SE 17:217–52; PFL 14:339–76. A fascinating mixture of Freud’s ideas about the origins of a particular kind of fear – combines literary criticism and his speculations on anthropology. ————‘The Psychogenesis of a Case of Homosexuality in a Woman’ (1920), SE 18:145–72; PFL 9:367–400. This short case history, along with the Schreber case, is a good place to look for the strengths and weaknesses of Freud’s theorising of homosexuality. ————Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920), SE 18:7–64; PFL 11:269–338. This is one of Freud’s oddest and most compulsive works. It contains his ideas about the repetition compulsion and the death drive. It has been a key text for further post-structuralist readings of Freud (see, particularly, Derrida 1987). ————‘Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego’ (1921), SE 18:65–143; PFL 12:91– 178. In this fascinating article Freud explores questions about the relationship between crowd behaviour and individual psychology. It’s good to read this along with Totem and Taboo and Civilization and its Discontents. ————‘The Ego and the Id’ (1923), SE 19:1–66; PFL 11:339–406. This one sounds like it’s just what you want to explain Freud’s basic concepts, but it is in fact very dense and difficult. In it Freud theorises his concept of the bodily ego. ————‘An Autobiographical Study’ (1925), SE 20:3–74; PFL 15:185–260. Although this contains some interesting autobiographical touches, it is much more the story of psychoanalysis the institution than of Freud the person. It gives a more balanced perspective than ‘On the History of the Psychoanalytic Movement’. If you want Freud’s life story see Jones (1953–57) or Gay (1989). ————‘Some Psychical Consequences of the Anatomical Distinction between the Sexes’ (1925), SE 19:241–58; PFL 7:323–43. This is a good short piece to compare with Three Essays on Sexuality, to see the ways in which Freud becomes more entrenched in his ideas of feminine sexuality and penis envy in his old age. ————‘Civilization and its Discontents’ (1930), SE 21:57–145; PFL 12:243–340. The best single piece you can read for Freud’s take on modern society; Freud at his crabbiest but full of delights.

WORKS ON SIGMUND FREUD Appignanesi, L. and Forrester, J. Freud’s Women (1992), London: Virago. This dauntingly large volume is good for background on Freud’s women patients, colleagues and relations. Appignanesi, R. and Zarate, O. Introducing Freud (1999), Cambridge: Icon Books. This comic-book version of Freud’s ideas is an entertaining and painless way to get the basics with illustrations. Bernheimer, C. and Kahane, C. (eds) In Dora’s Case: Freud–Hysteria–Feminism (1985), London: Virago. This collection is a psychoanalytic feminist classic. It contains extremely helpful articles on ‘Dora’ by many important psychoanalytic critics, including Jacqueline Rose, Neil Hertz and Jane Gallop. Crews, F. et al . The Memory Wars: Freud’s Legacy in Dispute (1995), New York: New York Review of Books. Crews was a rabidly enthusiastic psychoanalytic critic who later renounced psychoanalysis with great vigour. This collection includes hypercritical articles about Freud he wrote for the New York Review of Books and a selection of the letters they published in response. Falkland, G. Freud’s Literary Culture (2000), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. An analysis of the ways in which Freud’s reading of Goethe, Sophocles, Shakespeare and others influenced the formation of psychoanalysis. Forrester, J. Dispatches from the Freud Wars: Psychoanalysis and its Passions (1997), Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press. Forrester’s book is one of the best places to turn to for cogent analyses of the backlash against Freud from a psychoanalytic sympathiser. Gay, P. Freud: A Life for our Time (1989), London: Macmillan. This is a compulsively readable biography of Freud. However, if you’re looking for critical distance go elsewhere. Gay is almost as admiring of Freud as Freud’s devoted follower Ernest Jones, who wrote the first worshipful biography of the Great Man (see next entry). Jones, E. Sigmund Freud: Life and Work (1953–57), Vols I–III, London: Hogarth Press. Jones’s uncritical attitude to Freud can be exasperating at times but this is still a fascinating biography of a fascinating mind, written by someone who was on the scene at the time. Laplanche, J. and Pontalis, J.-B. The Language of Psychoanalysis (1973), trans. D. Nicholson-Smith, New York: Norton. This is by far the best dictionary of psychoanalytic terms available, but it is also much more than that. Although published in the early 1970s it still contains the smartest and most accurate explanations of Freud’s terminology. Advanced, though. Lesser, R.C. and Schoenberg, E. (eds) That Obscure Object of Desire: Freud’s Female Homosexual Revisited (1999), New York: Routledge. Contains Freud’s ‘A Case of Female Homosexuality’ and a series of articles about it from academics and practising analysts. Mahony, P.J. Freud as a Writer (1987), New Haven CT: Yale University Press. A readable, straightforward exploration of the power of Freud’s rhetoric. Marcus, Laura (ed.) Sigmund Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams:New Interdisciplinary Essays (1999), Manchester: Manchester University Press. This is a good collection of essays on The Interpretation of Dreams to mark its hundredth birthday. Masson, J. The Assault on Truth: Freud’s Suppression of the Seduction Theory (1984), New York: Farrar Straus & Giroux. Masson’s scathing attack on Freud’s ethics and the origin of psychoanalysis got lots of press attention when it was published. Masson claims that Freud turned his back on the real abuse suffered by his early hysterical women patients when he began to doubt their stories of early childhood seduction. For Masson, psychoanalysis is founded on this suppression of Freud’s, and Freud is undoubtedly the villain of the piece. Although Masson’s book was popularly influential, it is extremely reductive and limited in its understanding of Freudian concepts. Read it critically if you read it at all. Neu, J. (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Freud (1991), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. A collection that leans towards the philosophical questions that Freud’s work provokes. Rieff,P. Freud: The Mind of the Moralist (1959), Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Rieff’s work is invaluable as a wonderful, early thinking-through of the moral and ethical questions that analysis raises. Storr, A. Freud (1989), Oxford: Oxford University Press. A short, engagingly written, but very selective, lay-person’s guide to Freud. Surprenant, C. Freud: A Guide for the Perplexed (2008), London: Continuum. A rigorous philosophical guide that respects the complexity of Freud’skey ideas and is especially good on Freud’s topography and economic theories. Wollheim, R. Freud (1971), London: Fontana. Unbeatable for accuracy and sophistication, this advanced guide to Freud’s ideas and stages of his thought is probably not for beginners.

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