A Phylogenetic Fantasy: Overview of the Transference Neuroses
This volume heralds the appearance, for the first time in many years, of a totally new document by Sigmund Freud. It is the draft of a lost metapsychological paper, one of twelve essays written during World War I at the peak of the master's powers. Freud intended to publish all twelve in book form, under the title Preliminaries to a Metapsychology, and thereby set out the theoretical foundations of psychoanalysis. Scholars have long lamented the disappearance without a trace of seven of these important essays.
Only in 1983 did Ilse Grubrich-Simitis happen upon this draft, in Freud's handwriting, in an old trunk containing papers and documents of his Hungarian collaborator Sándor Ferenczi. With the help of a brief letter Freud had written on the back of the last page, she soon realized that the manuscript she had found was the draft of the final paper in the series. That draft is published here in facsimile, together with a transcription in German of the facsimile and the English translation.
In the first part of the draft, which is written in a kind of shorthand, Freud contrasts the three classic transference neuroses: anxiety hysteria, conversion hysteria, and obsessional neurosis. In the second part, which is written in complete sentences, Freud undertakes a daringly speculative "phylogenetic fantasy" He explores whether the debilitating illnesses of the neurotic and the psychotic today might have originated long ago as adaptive responses of the entire species to threatening environmental changes or to traumatic events in the prehistory of mankind.
In the draft "Fantasy" Freud modifies and expands the line of reasoning he began in Totem and Taboo (1912-13) after an intensely productive exchange with Ferenczi about Lamarckian concepts, making this recovered draft of major significance to students not only of psychoanalysis but also of the social sciences, humanities, and natural sciences.
Ilse Grubrich-Simitis has contributed a detailed essay, setting the overview in the context of Freud's life, his work, and his historical and scientific prominence. She quotes from relevant letters of Freud and Ferenczi, some published here for the first time.
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