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Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego (Norton Library) Paperback – September 17, 1990

3.8 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, German (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) is one of the twentieth century's greatest minds and the founder of the psychoanalytic school of psychology. His many works include The Ego and the Id; An Outline of Psycho-Analysis; Inhibitions; Symptoms and Anxiety; New Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis; Civilization and Its Discontent, and others.

Peter Gay (1923―2015) was the author of more than twenty-five books, including the National Book Award winner The Enlightenment, the best-selling Weimar Culture, and the widely translated Freud: A Life for Our Time.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Revised edition (September 17, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393007707
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393007701
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.4 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #509,920 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By R. Williams VINE VOICE on April 8, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I came across this little tome when I was in college. Exploded for me. Made me go on to read much of the Strachey editions in the library. Just reread it again. Still think it's amazing.

In the beginning, Freud makes a couple statements that are pretty fascinating: that almost no one has written about group psychology and that perhaps there is no such thing as individual psychology.

And you could argue that Group Psych is even more important today than when Freud wrote this in the 1920s.

Finally, Freud is one of those writers who is rarely read, but often (mis)characterized by other writers. If you have never read an original Freud work, this is a great place to start. You'll be surprised.
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This book is in the public domain and I downloaded it for free. As with all of these public domain works of Freud's that I've read so far the translation leaves a lot to be desired. I'm certain that Freud's message was clear and lucid in the original German, but here it's obscured by unnecessarily complicated sentence structure that often requires re-reading before it can be fully understood.

Here is an example of one of the shorter sentences: "Contagion is a phenomenom of which it is easy to establish the presence, but that it is not easy to explain." To say that a sentence like this requires editing is an understatement. This might be one way to improve it: "The presence of Contagion is easy to identify, but not so easy to explain." I could have given much worse, and far longer, examples, but the point of it all is that the readibility of the entire book could be better.

On the other hand, Freud gives a good description of group-think, and identifies the problems associated with groups. This is one insight (and I won't attempt to edit these examples): "...the individual forming part of a group acquires solely from numerical considerations, a sentiment f invincible power which allows him to yield to instincts which, had he been alone, he would perforce have kept under restraint." I think that it's worthy to note here that this shows that even otherwise reasonable persons can form up into unruly, destructive mobs. The reasoning power of a mob usually devolves to the lowest level of the members within the mob. "He possesses the spontaneity, the violence, the ferocity, and also the enthusiasm and heroism of primitive beings...
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Yes, this book is translated. No, group psychology is not my favorite. However, this book has the name Freud all over it. It has his thoughts on ego, id, and superego. Freud was my gateway into psychology almost 15 years ago. I'll read anything with his names on it. Yes, he is misunderstood, but psychology geeks like myself will understand the fandom. If you are a Freud lover, this is for you.
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On page 132 of The Denial Of Death, a Pulitzer Prize winning tour de force, Ernest Becker writes "Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, a book of fewer than 100 pages that in my opinion is probably the most single most potentially liberating tract that has ever been fashioned by man.." Freud brilliantly explains, Becker says, "Why men are so sheeplike when they function in groups."
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Freud wrote this book in 1921, and its themes are related to his books Beyond the Pleasure Principle-First Edition text and The Ego and the Id - First Edition Text.

Here are some representative quotations from the book:

"(I)n a group the individual is brought under conditions which allow him to throw off the repressions of his unconscious instinctual impulses. The apparently new characteristics when he then displays are in fact the manifestations of this unconscious..."
"Since a group is in no doubt as to what constitutes truth or error, and is conscious, moreover, of its own great strength, it is as intolerant as it is obedient to authority. It respects force and can only be slightly influenced by kindness, which it regards merely as a form of weakness."
"But we do not separate ... one the one hand, self-love, and on the other, love for parents and children, friendship and love for humanity in general, and also devotion to concrete objects and to abstract ideas. Our justification lies in the fact that psychoanalytic research has taught us that all these tendencies are an expression of the same instinctual impulses; in relation between the sexes these impulses force their way toward sexual union, but in other circumstances they are diverted from this aim..."
"From being in love to hypnosis is evidently only a short step. The respects in which the two agree are obvious."
"The group ... agrees with hypnosis in the nature of the instincts which hold it together, and in the nature of the replacement of the ego ideal with other individuals, which was perhaps originally made possible by their having the same relation to the object."
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I did like this in terms of understanding group dynamics from a psychoanalytic perspective. Once does need to infer and analytically think about the topics introduced so this is a deeply thought provoking book.
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