“SE” = Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud



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DRAFT III: SYLLABUS FOR FREUD COURSE 2014-15

SIGMUND FREUD’S THINKING AND THEORIZING”
Chairperson: Dr. Kelly

Instructors: Drs. House, Tomlinson, Allegra, Chaplan, and Berman

Coordinators: Drs. Tsolas and Colibazzi
(“SE” = Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, tr. A. Strachey, Hogarth Press, London, 1966)
STUDY GUIDE FOR BLOCK ONE
On reading Freud
There are both problems and delights in reading Freud. I append the quotations below as epigrams for the course which I hope will be useful, prospectively and retrospectively.
First, however, a practical caution: I usually cannot read Freud faster than about 20 pages an hour – even texts like Studies and the Interpretation of Dreams which I have read in detail many times over. This is partly because the writing style and vocabulary is based in the 19th Century, a particular contrast with current scientific writing. It is also partly because, although presented authoritatively, major points are not grounded in a systematized theory of mind. Rather one finds trends, themes, and theories – models (!) – which, while relevant to (perhaps constituent of) theory of mind, are incomplete and internally contradictory. Worse still, this is a collection of partial theories many of which are only partially elaborated. There is little that could be called a fully developed argument; indeed, even foundational notions are often left implicit. This is most striking in the early texts like Studies.
So prepare to read slowly and without expecting to unearth a finished or a simple or even a consistent General Psychology.

Jonathan House


PS: Please read the following three epigrams for the course – I truly believe that they will be of help to your reading



  1. Moreover, what is advocated here is a radical reading anew of his writings, with a view to rediscovering them or indeed to discovering them for the first time – for like all great texts, they are inexhaustible. For this purpose, a particular reading attitude is recommended, made up of unobtrusiveness, careful alertness and respect for even the most insignificant detail – an oscillation between proximity and distance that will assure the texts of sufficient free space to reveal themselves in all their independence. To put this in negative terms, in order to have any chance of perceiving what Freud was trying to express in his writings at the time of their composition while in the midst of the process of understanding, the reader must approach them not
    from the meta-level, not as it were looking down from above, and not from the vantage point of ‘superior’ knowledge – that is, not solely from the place of present-day psychoanalytic theory and practice. The risk otherwise is of encountering nothing but his own conscious or unconscious expectations or, alternatively, the Babel of later interpreters’ voices drowning out everything else.

Of course, a ‘naïve’ reading of this kind, directed toward maximum authenticity of understanding, is but approximately feasible. We are, after all, not contemporaries of Freud, and can at most keep in the background, but not totally suspend, knowledge we have since acquired. The attitude commended to the reader can perhaps best be likened to that of ‘evenly suspended attention’, which we assume in relation to the analysand’s communications in the course of our analytic work.

Ilse Grubrich-Simitis Early Freud and Late Freud



  1. Although he held on to the scientific image of his day, it is remarkable how much he was nevertheless able to see in human nature which did not fit this image. One reason Freud’s theoretical speculations remain exciting is that he is always trying to catch up to observations which outstrip his ability to understand them.


Jonathan Lear Love and Its Place in Nature:

A Philosophical Interpretation of Freudian Psychoanalysis



  1. … also keep in mind Freud’s distaste for philosophy – i.e. for philosophy understood as speculative system making. This is true although/because Freud is in no way averse to speculation itself – indeed one could argue his genius lies precisely in his creative openness to modeling mind; in other words openness to making models of (aspects of) mind, to what he calls “the apparatus of the soul” using a word whose religious connotations are as strong in German as in English. Freud’s self-understanding is that his theorizing, his meta-theory, is the least fixed and least certain aspect of his work. It is “scaffolding” that, he says, he is ready to throw away whenever new data require or better scaffolding becomes available. Meta-theory is an explanatory enterprise, a step removed from data, and so necessarily abstract and metaphorical. You will see that, on the level of theory, Freud tolerates a good deal of vagueness, imprecision, uncertainty, omission and contradiction although the form of his presentation – his authoritative style and his rhetorical skill – obscures these qualities.

Jonathan House excerpted from page 9 of this study guide


Class #1: Monday, September 15th, 2014

The psychical mechanism of hysterical phenomena; psychic trauma

READING

Freud:


Standard Edition Volume 3

Charcot [excerpt] - pages 19-23

The Neuro-Psychoses of Defence - pages 43-68

SE Vol. 2 or Nicola Luckhurst translation Studies:

Preliminary Communication - SE pp 3-17; NL pp 1-21
Laplanche & Pontalis, The Language of Psychoanlysis

Trauma (Psychical)” - pages 465-469



OPTIONAL (but helpful if you have the time)

Sandler et al, Freud’s Models of the Mind

Intro and Chapters 1 - 3 - pages 1-54
The Sandler chapters give the classical, or customary, “first-take” on this period of Freud’s theorizing. The Laplanche and Pontalis excerpt is at the other extreme, an outline of a close reading of the notion of ‘trauma’ in Freud.
WRITTEN WORK FOR CLASS #1, MONDAY SEPTEMBER 10TH
Alternative #1

For the Charcot obituary, written at the same time as Preliminary Communication, consider the argument beginning at the middle of page 19, starting with the phrase, “A quite unbiased observer…” Write a paragraph on:



  1. What is Freud’s point?

  2. For Freud why is this point important?

Alternative #2

Write a paragraph on: Is there a conceptual tension between the understanding of trauma in Preliminary Communication vs. Neuropsychoses of Defense? In Preliminary Communication see page 6 in the SE (page 9 in the Luckhurst translation) and in Neuropsychoses of Defense see SE III page 47

EMAIL YOUR PARAGRAPH TO (Jonathan.House@gmail.com)


BEFORE NOON ON SUNDAY, 9/14

In this class, and usually, I will focus on the Freud readings: the Charcot obit, Preliminary Communication and The Neuro-Psychoses of Defence


Charcot (1893)

When, in 1906, Freud’s writings were for the first time gathered and published as “collected writings”, this obit was the first piece. In his preface Freud wrote: “The fact that I have put my Obituary of J-M. Charcot at the head of this collection should be regarded not only as the repayment of a debt of gratitude, but also as an indication of the point at which my own work branches off from the master’s.”

Notice in particular the argument that begins in the middle of page 19 (starting with the phrase, “A quite unbiased observer…”) I will talk about the 5 pages starting on the last line of page 18 to the end of the piece but do read the whole thing.
Preliminary Communication and The Neuro-Psychoses of Defence
In Preliminary Communication focus on the first section. I will focus on “The psychical mechanism of hysteria”
In the Neuropsychoses of Defense some points of reference:


  • The “psychosis” in “neuropsychosis” is not used in the sense that “psychosis” is now used, rather it means a neurosis of the psyche as opposed to a neurosis of some other organ (e.g. cardiac neurosis was a neurosis of the heart).

  • Freud will propose a mechanism connecting “phobias and obsessions” (which for him are linked) and certain “hysterias” – the mechanism of defense. For Freud definitions are or soon will be as follows (we will address this in the third class):

Defense neuroses

Hysteria conversion

Obsessions (psychic) substitution

Paranoia projection

Hallucinatory Confusion detachment of the ego from reality

Phobia uncertain mechanism

Actual neuroses

Neurasthenia masturbation & wet dreams

Anxiety Neurosis abstinence & coitus interruptus


  • On page 47, notice the definition of trauma and consider if it is different than the definition in Preliminary Communication.

  • Pages 48-49 contain the key paragraphs of this paper concerning the mechanism of repression.

  • Page 51 – 58 What might a “disposition – an aptitude for conversion” entail?

  • Notice how he wrestles with the problem of the unconscious mental on page 53.

  • Read the appendix



Class #2: Monday September 22th, 2014

Sexuality, Deferred Action, the Seduction Theory and its ‘abandonment’
READING:

Freud, SE1, Project for a Scientific Psychology II



Psychopathology - pages 350-356
Freud SE2 or Nicola Luckhurst translation Studies:

Anna O. [excerpts] - pages SE : 30-47; NL : 33-50

Katharina - pages SE: 125-134; NL: 128-138

Psychotherapy of Hysteria - pages SE: 255-305; NL: 257-306

Freud

Letter to Fliess of October 15th, 1895

In Complete Letters… - page 144

Letter to Fliess September 21st, 1897

In Complete Letters… - pages 264-266

Laplanche & Pontalis, The Language of Psychoanlysis

Deferred Action” - pages 111-114

Scene of Seduction; Theory of Seduction” - pages 404-407


OPTIONAL”: The other cases – necessary for God and country, but not for this class


WRITTEN WORK FOR CLASS #2, MONDAY SEPT. 24TH - 2 PARAGRAPHS
In paragraph 1:

In each of the two cases, Emma (in the Project) and Katharina (in Studies) specify when the psychic trauma occurs, and when repressions occurs - AS FREUD UNDERSTANDS IT IN THESE PAPERS. Explain – in one or two sentences, or a phrase – why, FOR FREUD, the traumas are traumatic.



In paragraph 2:

List and categorize or explain the reasons Freud gives for abandoning his ‘neurotica’ in the “Letter of the Equinox” – the September 21st letter to Fliess – and in a sentence or two (quote if you like - in fact that would be best) what does Freud say is the consequence for theory of no longer believing his “neurotica”.


EMAIL YOUR PARAGRAPHS TO (Jonathan.House@gmail.com)

BEFORE NOON ON SUNDAY, 9/21

*****

Reading these chapters consider especially trauma, fantasy and consciousness:

  1. How do Breuer and Freud understand trauma, explicitly and implicitly? E.g. in Anna O, what/where/how is the ‘trauma’ as Breuer understands it in the snake story? In the dog story?


  2. Also how do they understand fantasy? E.g. In Anna O note Breuer’s emphasis on “stories,” “day-dreams,” “fantasies”.

  3. What is the relation of fantasy to trauma?

  4. In the cases, how do Breuer and Freud understand the relation between what is conscious and what is something else? Is there a difference between what is explicit and what you think it implicit in their clinical accounts?

  5. What is the nature of the repressing force?

  6. What is the nature of the symptom? How is it formed?

  7. What is the nature of the cure – catharsis – how does it work?


NB: I will focus particularly on the story of Emma in The Project (pages 352-356), who is to be distinguished from Emmy in Studies, and then on the story of Katharina. So do read these closely and/or twice. They are not long. For Emma and Katharina the Laplanche & Pontalis excerpt will be very helpful. Here as in the first class, consider how Freud understands trauma. For Emma and for each case in Studies, as Freud sees it what is traumatic? And when does the trauma occur? And why is the trauma traumatic?

This year we are covering in 4 classes both Studies and Interpreation of Dreams. All the cases bear reading and re-reading, but we won’t have time to touch on more than tiny fragments. Perhaps the most fun to read is the final case, Elizabeth von R, but if you give yourself the time to read in a leisurely way delights can be found even (or especially) in the footnotes which include brief bits on other patients. If we have time, we will take up whatever catches your eye in any of the cases – something particularly interesting or some point where Freud seems confused and/or confusing and/or wrong, etc.

As you read, here are some things to know and/or notice:


Anna O
Anna O is a very difficult read for a variety of reasons: Breuer doesn’t write as well as Freud; the description – and it is mostly description - is immersed in the medicine of the 1880s; the implicit model of [pathological] mental functioning is not clear [? not coherent – what do you think?].

Read it as narrative without struggling to make sense of the details but do struggle more with the section from page 30 to 40. Especially note the inaugural moment of the cathartic cure: “the dog story” on page 34 of the SE (page 38 of the Nicola Luckhurst translation) and also think about the story of “the snake hallucinations” on page 37 of the SE (42 of NL).



Psycho-Analysis is the name (1) of a procedure for the investigation of mental processes which are almost inaccessible in any other way, (2) of a method (based upon that investigation) for the treatment of neurotic disorders and (3) of a collection of psychological information obtained along those lines, which is gradually being accumulated into a new scientific discipline. (1923 Encyclopedia article vol. 18)

Katharina
14y/o 14-16 y/o 16 y/o 18 y/o

Father Father & Franziska F&F Vomiting anxiety attacks

In - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - In bed x 3 days - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Bed in (2+) suggestive situations Bed with hallucination


In Katharina note:

  1. Biphasic nature of sexuality

  2. Deferred action / Retrospective modification (Nachträglichkeit / Après-coup / Afterwardsness) in relation to sexuality and to trauma
  3. NB for Katharina as for Emma in the Project, the Laplanche and Pontalis selection will be extremely helpful.


We will (re)visit “seduction theory” before moving on to the “abandonment of the seduction theory”. Freud is said to have given up “the seduction theory”; indeed, at various moments when he writes the history of psychoanalysis, Freud himself says as much. We will look at his reasons for abandoning his “neurotica” and ask not only “why” he gives it up, but precisely what he is giving up, both explicitly and implicitly and what aspect of the seduction “theory” is not given up.

For these purposes the key readings are: (a) the two letters to Fleiss and (b) the Laplanche & Pontalis excerpts.


Monday, September 29th, 2014
READING: The Dream book
No written work
The Interpretation of Dreams chapters 2 and 3 last bit of 5 and all of chapter 6


  • in Crick pages 78-125, [optional 126-184], 185-329

  • in the SE pages 96-133, [optional 134-240], 241-508

  • A one page summary of the first five chapters (to be distributed) can substitute for the first pages listed above (i.e.

I strongly recommend the Joyce Crick translation which is a translation of the first edition. Crick's note on the Translation and bibliography may be useful. Oxford University Press ISBN 978-0-19-953758-7  [The price is $14.95] Alternatively, use the Standard Edition
Monday, October 6th, 2014

READING: CHAPTER VII

The ante-penultimate paragraph and footnote in the SE

- Questions raised by this paragraph:



For Freud, how many kinds of reality are there? How do you understand the question he is wrestling with, in terms of a model of mind – i.e. in terms philosophy of mind?
I will email you the paragraph and footnote and also, perhaps, an outline of the chapter which may make it easier to keep your bearings as you read this chapter or may simply be a distraction – I created it for myself in a particularly obsessional moment
PROLEGOMENA TO A STUDY GUIDE FOR CHAPTER 7
The most famous chapter of his most famous book, Chapter 7 is Freud’s first, presentation of the “topographical theory”. Although we are reading it to understand that theory, chapter 7 is not a systematic presentation of the “topographic” model, it wasn’t written for that purpose. It is the concluding chapter of a book on dreams and it is entirely appropriate to its content that it is entitled: “The Psychology of the Dream Process,” not “The Topographical Model of Mind”.

In this regard also keep in mind Freud’s distaste for philosophy – i.e. for philosophy understood as speculative system making. This is true although/because Freud is in no way averse to speculation itself – indeed one could argue his genius lies precisely in his creative openness to modeling mind; in other words openness to making models of (aspects of) mind, to what he calls “the apparatus of the soul” using a word whose religious connotations are as strong in German as in English. Freud’s self-understanding is that his theorizing, his meta-theory, is the least fixed and least certain aspect of his work. It is “scaffolding” that, he says, he is ready to throw away whenever new data require or better scaffolding becomes available. Meta-theory is an explanatory enterprise, a step removed from data, and so necessarily abstract and metaphorical. You will see that, on the level of theory, Freud tolerates a good deal of vagueness, imprecision, uncertainty, omission and contradiction although the form of his presentation – his authoritative style and his rhetorical skill – obscures these qualities.

A third complication of reading Chapter 7 for an account of the topographic model of mind, is that in 1900 the model was still a work in progress. Indeed, for the reasons just noted, we can abstract a “topographic model of mind” from Freud’s writings but to do so is a kind of secondary revision. For example, the dream book doesn’t mention libido, only wishes. Freud is aware of the importance of infantile sexuality but it isn’t just prudence or coyness that keeps him from emphasizing its fundamental role. He hasn’t fully formulated his thinking yet. He is 5 years away from the first edition of Three Essays on Sexuality. Something similar could be said of the Oedipus complex and of much else.
As a “study guide” I may send you a very detailed outline of the chapter which may make it easier to keep your bearings as you read or may be a distraction, an unnecessary added difficulty – I created it for myself in a particularly obsessional moment

As you read, you may ask yourself:




  1. In the topographic model, as contrasted with the affect/trauma model of hysteria and the other neuroses of defense…

  • What is the role of conflict? Conflict is between what and what?

  • What happened to psychic trauma? Does it play a role in dreams?

  • What are ‘Compromise formations’




  1. Observe how Freud uses the related notions: psychic location, agency and system. Notice the famous images of the mental apparatus:

  • The compound microscope

  • The “picket fence”




  1. Given “psychic location” is a metaphor, in what sense(s) do systems have boundaries - i.e. system Ucs, system Pcs, system Cs?

Know the difference between being “descriptively” vs. “dynamically” unconscious

Understand the three kinds of regression:
topographic,

temporal


formal

Block II: Sexuality

Session 5 (10/20/14): Dora

“Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria” SE Vol. 7, pp. 3-124
Session 6 (10/27/14): Theory of Sexuality

“Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality”, SE Vol. 7, pp. 125-172


Session 7 (11/3/14): Theory of Sexuality, cont’d

“Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, SE Vol. 7, pp. 173-243

Session 8 (11/10/14): Rat Man

“Notes Upon a Case of Obsessional Neurosis” SE Vol. 10, pp. 153-318


Block III: Early Mid-Phase

Session 9 (11/17/14): Hans

“Analysis of a Phobia in a Five-Year-Old Boy” SE Vol. 10, pp. 3-152
Session 10 (11/24/14): Love and Its Vicissitudes

“A Special Type of Object Choice Made by Men” SE Vol. 11, pp. 163-176

“On the Universal Tendency to Debasement in the Sphere of Love” SE Vol. 11, pp. 177-190

“Leonardo daVinci and a Memory of His Childhood” SE Vol. 11, p. 59-138


Session 11 (12/1/14): The Evolution of Technique

“On Beginning the Treatment” SE Vol. 12, pp. 121-144

“Remembering, Repeating, and Working Through” SE Vol. 12, pp. 145-156

“Observations on Transference-Love” SE Vol. 12, pp. 157-171

Session 12 (12/8/14): Schreber (1911, 80 pgs)

“Psychoanalytic Notes on an Autobiographical Account of a Case of Paranoia”, SE Vol. 12, pp. 3-84

Session 13 (12/15/14): Review – Dr. Tsolas
Block IV: Metapsychology, Part 1

STUDY GUIDE FOR BLOCK IV: METAPSYCHOLOGY, Part I
Kevin Kelly, MD

212-348-9661

kevinvkellymd@gmail.com

Welcome to this section of the course, which I trust will be more enjoyable than the perhaps-daunting title suggests, and which concerns some fascinating and momentous developments in Freud’s thought. As we begin, a few general comments on this section are in order.

First, I urge you not to succumb to “Volume-Fourteen-Phobia”. Candidates (and others) tend to shy away from this section of Freud’s work, because the writing is often dense and the concepts are sometimes experience-distant. But the effort of working through these papers is well-repaid: the thinking expressed here is at times elegant, a grasp of the theoretical turns here is essential to understanding the next phase of the theory, and it can be gratifying to observe Freud struggling at least as hard as we do to make sense of this material. The text deserves a whole-hearted effort to understand it, but you’re not likely to reach a point of satisfaction with your grasp, and you shouldn’t be too self-critical about this; at some points you will probably have to conclude that Freud is the one who is not succeeding at his task, and at these points the challenge for us is to formulate as clear an idea as possible of what the theoretical problem is that Freud is trying unsuccessfully to solve.

Second, I would advise you not to be distracted by the polemic purposes of these papers. Freud makes it clear that, in large part, he is writing in order to distance himself from and to refute such former associates as Fliess, Jung, and Adler. Those debates are of interest for the social history of psychoanalysis, but are not particularly important for our purposes in following the evolution of Freud’s thinking.

Third, I propose that we submit to the reality principle by postponing the satisfaction of immersing ourselves in the clinical material of the Wolf Man case, focusing instead on the more theoretical material in the other papers. Wolf Man is a very rich case, and a pleasure to read, but its richness leads in many directions which would take us far from the crucial theoretical material here. If we have time left after we have reached a point of comfort with the metapsychological developments, we can indulge in a discussion of how these play out in the clinical material, but if not I trust that you will savor the Wolf Man case in your independent reading.

As Strachey notes (SE XII, pp. 215-6), this group of papers marks a return to a line of discussion which began with the “Project for a Scientific Psychology” and continued through The Interpretation of Dreams, especially Chapter 7. In the decade or so between the latter work and the beginning of this group, Freud was concerned primarily with issues closer to the clinical level -- working out the implications of this theoretical structure for an understanding of the “transference neuroses”. In this group of papers he returns to a higher level of theoretical abstraction; while reading them, you should think about the meaning of the commonly-used term “metapsychology”.

Of course, we know where the theory is headed, so we will naturally be on the lookout for precursors of structural theory, but it’s important to keep in mind that we have an unfair advantage over Freud – we know where the theory will go next, but Freud is feeling his way forward alone and without foresight.

Much of the theoretical material we will consider in this section is organized around an effort to explain clinical phenomena which have not previously been encompassed by analytic theory: schizophrenia, affective disorders, hypochondria, masochism, combat neuroses, etc. In this sense, these papers can be seen as part of the effort to make psychoanalysis into a general psychology, but we should not be distracted by this effort. For our purposes, the explanations of these specific conditions are less important than the theoretical advances which these explanations necessitate; we are less interested in whether his explanation of “paraphrenia” is believable than in how he changes his theory in order to make this explanation.


12/22/14: “Formulations on the Two Principles of Mental Functioning,” SE XII, pp. 215-226

This work is sufficiently compact to permit and to reward a close reading. The first paragraph contains a crucial implication as an unstated assumption: others have described important characteristics of neurosis, but Freud proposes to explain these characteristics as the result of motivation – “…neurotics turn away from reality because…” (emphasis mine). The discussion (p. 220) of how attention and memory evolve illustrates Freud’s effort to explain all of mental life as motivated. This emphasis on motivation is the factor that continues, even today, to distinguish psychoanalytic theory from other theories of mind, e.g, the theory underlying cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Freud makes it clear that he regards the introduction of the reality principle as a momentous development, and you should note the various consequences he describes as resulting from this change (pp. 220-222). However, it is important to note the ultimate relationship of the two principles (p.223) – the reality principle is simply a special case, or subset, of the overarching pleasure principle.

In passing, Freud mentions several points which he will examine more systematically in subsequent papers. For now, you should just try to grasp what he means by his unsystematic references to: the term “ego”, the conflict between ego-instincts and self-preservative instincts, and the problem of the “choice of neurosis”. Finally, please note his parting comment about the role of the reality principle in writing this paper – Freud has a delightful, dry, and self-deprecating sense of humor, which candidates and other readers often miss because they expect him to be ponderous.

1/5/15: “Instincts and their Vicissitudes”, SE XIV, pp. 111-140

The Editor’s Notes are always useful, and worth the short time it takes to read them, but in this case they are especially so. The discussion on p. 111 of “Trieb” vs “Instinkt” points to a familiar discussion in analytic circles. I’m not persuaded that the distinction is all that important, but you’ll want to be familiar with it because you’ll hear it frequently. The discussion on the following two pages, of the idea of an “instinct” and where it is located, offers a good readable summary of another issue you’re likely to encounter repeatedly. The two long paragraphs on pp. 114-116, concerning “ego-instincts” vs “sexual instincts”, anticipate the whole of the “Metapsychology” block; don’t expect to grasp this fully now, but read it through and refer back to it later.

The body of the paper explicates a number of important terms in especially clear fashion (pp. 117-127), then puts these terms to work in an effort to explain love and hate (pp. 127-140; Freud was nothing if not ambitious). In preparation for these efforts, you should savor the introductory paragraph (p.117) on how science proceeds; this section could appropriately be used as an Introduction to the DSM.

As you read through the first half of the paper, try to reach a point of comfort with the following terms:


  • the Constancy Principle (aka the Nirvana Principle);

  • the Pleasure Principle (as related to but distinct from “constancy”);

  • the characteristics of an instinct (source, aim, object, pressure);

  • ego instincts (aka self-preservative instincts) vs sexual instincts;

  • the “vicissitudes” which an instinct can undergo (listed on p. 126, and later called “defenses”).

The second half of the paper will probably be more confusing, and you may find yourself unsatisfied with your grasp of the material here. You’ll find it easier if you read first the final paragraph (p.140), in which Freud makes clear the synthesis toward which he’s been working, and then try to summarize the material on pp. 133-140 in the form of a chart showing the effects of the “three great polarities” on loving and hating. Even so, we’re likely to have to settle for describing this section as a work in progress, and trying to identify the unresolved points within it.


1/12/15: “Repression”, SE XIV, pp. 143-158
This paper is similar to “Two Principles” in its compactness, and similar to “Instincts and Vicissitudes” in its structure; the first half (pp. 146-152) presents the theory in an abstract and systematic form, while the second half (pp. 153-158) outlines the application of these concepts to familiar clinical syndromes. Again, the Editor’s Note deserves some attention, because it presents in condensed form (p. 144) the progression from content analysis to resistance analysis, a crucial development which forms part of the transition to structural theory and later to ego psychology.

As you read through the more abstract section, pay attention to Freud’s explanation for why repression happens (p. 147), how this explanation follows the Pleasure Principle, and how repression is related developmentally to other “vicissitudes”. The following pages (148-151) concern the idea of “derivatives”; you should try to reach a comfortable understanding of this concept, its relation to the distinction between “primal repression” and “repression proper”, and its role in free association.

The division of an instinct into an “idea” and a “quota of affect”, which should be familiar from much earlier works (especially “The Neuropsychoses of Defense”, 1896), is re-introduced on p. 152. This cleavage is then used (pp. 153-157) to explain the differing outcomes of repression in the three familiar transference neuroses. In the course of these explanations Freud recalls another term from the 1896 paper which later became widely used, “the return of the repressed”.

1/26/15: “The Unconscious”, SE XIV, pp. 161-208

Like the papers on “Repression” and the “Two Principles”, this one is also densely written, but it systematizes so much material that it can hardly be called compact. As the Editor’s Note indicates, it should be considered an extension of the theoretical effort that was begun in the “Project” and continued in Chapter Seven of the Dream book.

The first (roughly) half of the text consists of a series of important propositions about “the unconscious”. As used here, this term refers both to the “system ucs” of topographic theory (the “systemic unconscious”) and to the descriptive term meaning mental content not readily available to consciousness (the “descriptive unconscious”), and the tension between these two meanings points to some difficulties in the theory. You should read this section closely enough to become familiar with the following propositions, and with the problems they present:



  1. the ucs is not the same as the repressed (p. 166)

  2. all mental life is ucs (but some parts of it are perceived by the systems pcs and cs – p. 171)

  3. emotions, as well as ideas, can be ucs (pp. 177-9)

The next section of the paper consists of Freud’s effort to systematize what he calls the “metapsychological presentation” of a mental process. You would do well to read first the paragraph near the bottom of p. 182 where he defines this term as a synthesis of three “points of view”, then to go back and work through the section on pp. 180-1, in which he illustrates the dynamic point of view and defines the economic point of view (the previous section, on the ucs, details the topographic point of view). In its current usage, the term “metapsychology” means something broader than this, but we see here Freud’s efforts to reconcile his own varying perspectives on his subject.

With this theoretical structure in place, he next returns to the familiar transference neuroses, and tries to offer a full “metapsychological” description of each (pp. 183-5). Our primary interest lies in identifying the points of stress in this effort. Freud has already hinted that he recognizes these strains, in the passage on p. 172 in which he imagines abandoning the distinction between cs and ucs, and in the passage on pp. 174-5 in which he disavows any connection between topography and anatomy. The clearest statement of the problem is given on pp. 192-4, in the section which includes his acknowledgement that “… the conscious is not always conscious”.

The section on pp. 196-9 points toward the next group of readings, which concern the “narcissistic neuroses”, including schizophrenia. His discussion of schizophrenia, in turn, leads him back to an old topic, the distinction between “thing-presentation” and “word-presentation”. To understand why this obscure idea seems so important to him, we should recall both that he began his work in neurology with a study of aphasia (cf Appendix C) and that his model of the therapeutic action of analysis involved putting unconscious material into words.

Session 14 (12/22/14): “Formulations on the Two Principles of Mental Functioning” SE Vol. 12, pp. 213-226


Session 15 (1/5/15): “Instincts and Their Vicissitudes” SE Vol. 14, pp. 109-140
Session 16 (1/12/15): “Repression” SE Vol. 14, pp. 141-158
Session 17 (1/26/15): “The Unconscious” SE Vol. 14, pp. 159-216
Session 18 (2/2/15): “From the History of an Infantile Neurosis” (Wolfman), SE Vol. 17, pp. 3-122
Block V: Metapsychology, Part 2

Session 19: (2/9/15): “On Narcissism: an Introduction” SE Vol. 14, pp. 67-104


Session 20: (2/23/15): “Mourning and Melancholia” SE Vol. 14, pp. 237-258
Session 21 (3/2/15): “Beyond the Pleasure Principle” SE Vol. 18, pp. 3-66

Session 22 (3/9/15): “Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego” SE Vol. 18, pp. 67- 144


Block VI: Structural Theory and Beyond

Session 23 (3/16/15): “The Ego and the Id” SE Vol. 19, pp. 3-39


Session 24 (3/23/15): “The Ego and the Id” cont’d, SE Vol. 19, pp. 40- 68
Session 25 (3/30/15): “Inhibitions, Symptoms & Anxiety” SE Vol. 20, pp. 77-178

Splitting of the Ego in the Process of Defense” SE Vol. 23, pp. 271-278
Session 26 (4/6/15): “Analysis Terminable and Interminable” SE Vol. 23, pp.209-254

“Constructions in Analysis” SE Vol. 23, pp. 255-270


Session 27 (4/13/15): Review – Dr. Colibazzi




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