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Five Lectures on Psycho-Analysis Paperback – November 10, 2008
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Text: English, German (translation)
From the Back Cover
In 1909 Freud delivered five lectures at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. He spoke on the foundations of psychoanalysis, and the lectures were published the following year. Until the far more extensive Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis, Five Lectures on Psycho-Analysis was the authoritative summary of Freud's ideas, and it remains a lucid general introduction.
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These were public lectures held at Clark University, Worcester, Mass., in 1909. freud lectures here are not as technical as in some of his other books. Has a few footnotes, some by the translator; has an appendix of other works by Freud, with a longer bibliography of his works, as well as some other psychoanalysts he cites in his lectures.
The book is a survey of the history and development of psychoanalysis. The five lectures covers such topics as hysteria, the talking cure, hysterical conversion, states of consciousness, hypnoid states, hysterical disassociation, splitting of consciousness, cathartic procedure, repression, jokes and their relation to the unconscious, ideational elements, complexes, free association, association experiments, interpretation of dreams, dream-problems, sexual complexes, small faulty actions by people, neuroses, the erotic life, infantile sexuality, auto-eroticism, origin of perversion, the sexual development of children, etc.
He believes in a deterministic cause of mental life. Nothing is trivial or haphazard. The psycho-analytical technique is already efficient enough to fulfill its task: to bring the pathogenic psychical material into consciousness, He defends himself against his critics in several places in the book. He believes his theories are universal. He believes that sexual etiology is of decisive importance. Much of the last two lectures focuses on sex,, namely, the withdrawal from reality being the main purposes of mental illness. He talks of involution, of repression, reality and fantasy, wish fulfillment, and the like.
He talks of transference as part of the patient's emotional life. He goes into much detail discussing transference and the childhood development of sexuality.
He becomes defensive again about his theories, saying, people are unaccustomed to reckoning with strict and universal application of determinism to mental life.
He discusses at length what happens when the unconscious wishes have been set free by the psychoanalyst. Then he discusses the possible outcomes of the work of the psychoanalyst.
Freud's theories gained enormous fame and influence in the field of psychiatry. Yet he still has critics and to many his ideas are discarded. Yet I have encountered people who say you have to love Freud, while in fact there is no obligation to accept anything g Freud says. It has been said that Freud's theories only apply to middle-class 19th century Jewish women of Vienna. But that is an exaggeration. However, psychiatrists have discovered that the world has cultures where Freud's theories do not apply. I myself am critical of Freud, especially his doctrine of determinism, for this implies humans don't have free will. I would say Freud is out of date, and people look for more modern theorists of the mind.
I read this little book in French about thirty years ago, ‘Cinq leçons sur la Psychanalyse’.…I recently decided to re-read the book in its English version. Time and new language did not change a lot to my first impression but the inverse was true that is, time, experience and knowledge just contributed to my understanding that the theories suggested in the last two lectures fell under a limited fantasy realm via the therapist interpretations.
We are all indebted to Freud for letting the world know about Breuer’s observations on cure of what they called at that time hysteria. Based on these observations, Freud introduced with clarity, humor and metaphors, concepts such as ‘fixation of mental life to pathogenesis’ that characterized neurosis, ‘hysterical conversion’ and ‘double conscience’ or ‘splitting of personality’ or ‘dissociation of personality’ and brought our attention to dreams or small faulty actions as a significant material during therapy. In the last two lectures, Freud (and his followers) departs from these phenomenological observations explicitly described mainly in the first three lectures of the book. Freud and his followers were determined to establish theories on mental illness and their aetiology. These theories look at people through a very concise and constructed magnifying glass, sometimes limiting, distorting and disconnecting from inter-personal reality, like proceeding to a dissection and disintegrating the parts at the expense of loosing contact with the whole constituted by its parts.
It is worthwhile to recall Freud’s insight ‘…Dr. Breuer’ attitude toward this patient…He gave her both sympathy and interest, even though, to begin with, he did not know how to help her. It seems likely that she herself made task easier by the admirable qualities of intellect and character to which he testified in her case history. Soon, his benevolent scrutiny showed him the means of bringing her a first instalment of help.’’. I will also remind the famous story but still really sad story reported by Freud at the end of these five lectures, on The citizens of Schilda (p.61). The citizens of Schilda established a plan to make a horse highly cost-effective. They applied their plan with certainty and great satisfaction, till one day they were surprised by the death of the horse. What happened? Were the citizens of Schilda so blinded by their own agenda that they did not see the horse was losing strength and weight? The citizen of Schilda and the horse remind us that things may take place and develop with certainty, and sometimes with great satisfaction when we are not really present but are blinded by our own agenda. For the citizens of Schilda and the horse, the result was unexpectedly really different from the citizen’s expectations based on their original plan and for this, the outcome was deadly surprising.