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The Freud Reader Paperback – September 17, 1995

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Author of numerous books on Freud, including a highly regarded biography ( Freud, LJ 7/88), Gay offers the general reader a comprehensive survey of Freud's psychoanalytical, political, and philosophical writings. Preceded by a meaty introduction that emphasizes Freud's commitment to science and reason, this single-volume work includes some 50 of Freud's texts, organized chronologically with headnotes. The selections range from case studies and theoretical discussions about dreams, anxiety, and anal eroticism to essays on lay analysis and religion as humankind's obsessional neurosis. Read sequentially, they allow readers to trace Freud's conceptual shift from a topographic theory of the mind to his structural theory of drives. A scholarly work for students and those wanting more than a cursory look.
- Janice Arenofsky, formerly with Arizona State Lib., Phoenix
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Freudian thought permeates virtually every aspect of 20th century life. To understand Freud is to explore not only his scientific papers but also his vivid writings on art, literature, politics, religion and culture. The Freud Reader is the first single-volume work to bring together in accessible form Freud's ideas as a scientist, humanist, doctor and philosopher. It contains fifty-one key texts, spanning Freud's entire career from early case histories through his work on dreams, essays on sexuality, and on to his late writings, including Civilisation and Its Discontents. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 896 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reissue edition (September 17, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393314030
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393314038
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.5 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,252 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

71 of 80 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 13, 1998
Format: Paperback
Followers of Freud across the world should be greatful to Mr Gay for compiling such an enormous and elaborate volume on Sigmund Freud. I have not come across any book on Frued which is so comprehensive yet does not seem to drag on about trivial details. It is like having a converstaion with Freud, perhaps even better because you can skip and chose the subject at will. The book gives a complete run down on all the major and some minor works of Freud, some in the form of lectures for the novice while others are for beginners. It has something for every body. While not many will agree with Freud's prognosis on Da Vinci, Nabokov, Michealangelo etc., we should consider ourselves fortunate enought that soemone offered to traverse through the thought processes of these geniuses and tried to split open their hidden personalities. Until we find a better explanation of what drives humans towards homo sexuality or why success leads people towards melancholy and why do we get recurring dreams about failure or flight fanatasy, Sigmund Freud shall continue to occupy the mantle which is fit only for a 20th century prophet. To bring his work to light in an accessible form, we owe gratitude to Mr Gay
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Matthew D. Jones on January 3, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Like many people, I had a passing familiarity with Freudian concepts (repression, the unconscious) that had entered the general culture, and had read small bits of Freud in college. Peter Gay is one of Freud's foremost biographers, and his mastery of Freud's work is reflected in his selections for this anthology. Each selection is arranged chronologically (except for a brief autobiographical piece by Freud, which serves as an introduction) to show the evolution of Freud's thought. Professor Gay adds helpful introductory notes to put each individual piece in context, and relate it to the body of Freud's work. The anthology also has extensive references for further reading.

For me, the revelation of this anthology is how the Freud of popular culture is not the Freud that emerges in his work. For example, Freudian theory is commonly regarded as "pathologizing" homosexuality. However, it becomes clear from reading the selections here that, clinically, Freud saw homosexual orientation as no more or less "pathological" than "normal" heterosexuality. He regarded the "pathology" as a matter of social convention, and noted how homosexuality was admired in ancient cultures. This is not to say that Freud himself undertook to challenge the homophobia of his place and time, but it does show how his thinking was more far more nuanced than the popular image we've inherited. The selections also give a fascinating glimpse at the mindset of late nineteenth and early twentieth century medicine: Freud's entire theory evolved out an effort to treat somatic complaints that appeared to have no organic cause.

Professor Gay has assembled an extraordinarily well-crafted selection of Freud's writings. They provide an excellent overview of Freud's actual work, and the development of his thought.
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27 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Samuel T. Goldberg on April 11, 2005
Format: Paperback
Sigmund Freud was the first clinical psychotherapist, the first to discover and investigate the possibilities of "a talking cure". His contributions have made possible effective psychotherapeutic treatments for ailments encompassing not only acute psychological symptoms, such as traumatic, dissociative, phobic, depressive, and conversion disorders. Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is also the treatment of choice for broader personality difficulties which often give rise to more generalized problems in living, for example, difficulties in love relationships, self-esteem, and work achievement.

To summarize briefly Freud's views on how psychotherapy works is a daunting task. His psychoanalytic writings spanned some forty-three years, from 1895 to 1938, and fill twenty-three hefty volumes. As the first to enter this clinical and theoretical territory, he had nearly to invent de novo a model of the human mind. Based on observations from both in and outside the clinical setting, his model would include psychological development from earliest infancy, how one eventually arrives, or fails to arrive, at a relatively stable personality structure. Moreover, the Freudian model accounts for the human potential for resumed growth and change throughtout life. Psychoanalysis also seeks to understand the continuous process of mental function from moment to moment, as might be observed through intropsection or in a session of psychotherapy.

Freud recognized that psychological life intrinsically is inseparable from relations with other people, "object relations", starting with an infant's relations to its mother, later continuing with the child's relations to both his parents and siblings, and ultimately to the wider surrounding community.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By The Sharp's on March 13, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Found this at the Salvator Dali museum after a wonderful day going through that masterpiece full of Dali masterpieces. I love it! Freud deeply influenced Dali and many other artists. The simplified text, yet clear and concise manner in which it was translated it amazing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Frinkjlt on December 17, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As many other reviewers have stated, this book covers an enormous ground of Freud's thought which deals with very variegated subject-areas. The reason I'm giving this four stars and not five is that the type is small, which may pose a problem for certain readers, and the margins are not big enough to take notes (a must for such writings). Would be much more handy for studying Freud is the book was a little bit bigger, with wider margins and a bigger type.

Other than these minor faults, the commentary and footnotes of Gay is very instructive for the uninitiated.
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