A Moment of Transition: Two Neuroscientific Articles

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Institute of Psycho-Analysis, 1990 - Psychology - 164 pages
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Translations of two neuroscientific articles by Freud are presented here for the first time in English. Alongside these, the editors offer convincing arguments for their importance to both psychoanalysis and neuroscience. These articles helped provide the catalyst for the modern activity in the field, and will prove fascinating to anyone interested in the origins of this bold new movement.Between 1877 and 1900, Sigmund Freud published over one hundred neuroscientific works, only seven of which have previously appeared in English translation. Aphasie and Gehirn, the two articles presented in A Moment of Transition, were originally composed in 1888 as dictionary entries for the Handwortebuch der gesamten Medizin edited by Albert Villaret. They therefore date from a pivotal period of Freud's career when a growing interest in psychology had already begun to vie with strictly neurological endeavors; a shift of emphasis reflected in the novel and independent conceptual position adopted in both papers, prefiguring Freud's later work On Aphasia and certain aspects of the Project for a Scientific Psychology. Freud's professional development during this period is revealing.In 1885-86 he had studied under Jean-Martin Charcot in Paris. On his return to Vienna in 1886 he gave papers on hypnotism and hysteria, and made translations of Charcot's most recent lectures. In the following year he adopted Joseph Breuer's 'cathartic method' for the treatment of hysterical patients, and produced two reviews of hysteria and neurasthenia. In 1888 - the year of Aphasie and Gehirn - two further papers on hysteria were published.In the substantial commentary which accompanies the translations, Mark Solms and Michael Saling firstly establish Freud's authorship of the two articles, and then embark upon a critical examination of the literature so far devoted to them. They discuss the potential importance of Aphasie and Gehirn, and present detailed arguments to demonstrate their significance both of the history of psychoanalysis and for the history of neuroscience.

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About the author (1990)

Sigmund Freud was the founder of psychoanalysis, simultaneously a theory of personality, a therapy, and an intellectual movement. He was born into a middle-class Jewish family in Freiburg, Moravia, now part of Czechoslovakia, but then a city in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. At the age of 4, he moved to Vienna, where he spent nearly his entire life. In 1873 he entered the medical school at the University of Vienna and spent the following eight years pursuing a wide range of studies, including philosophy, in addition to the medical curriculum. After graduating, he worked in several clinics and went to Paris to study under Jean-Martin Charcot, a neurologist who used hypnosis to treat the symptoms of hysteria. When Freud returned to Vienna and set up practice as a clinical neurologist, he found orthodox therapies for nervous disorders ineffective for most of his patients, so he began to use a modified version of the hypnosis he had learned under Charcot. Gradually, however, he discovered that it was not necessary to put patients into a deep trance; rather, he would merely encourage them to talk freely, saying whatever came to mind without self-censorship, in order to bring unconscious material to the surface, where it could be analyzed. He found that this method of free association very often evoked memories of traumatic events in childhood, usually having to do with sex. This discovery led him, at first, to assume that most of his patients had actually been seduced as children by adult relatives and that this was the cause of their neuroses; later, however, he changed his mind and concluded that his patients' memories of childhood seduction were fantasies born of their childhood sexual desires for adults. (This reversal is a matter of some controversy today.) Out of this clinical material he constructed a theory of psychosexual development through oral, anal, phallic and genital stages. Freud considered his patients' dreams and his own to be "the royal road to the unconscious." In The Interpretation of Dreams (1900), perhaps his most brilliant book, he theorized that dreams are heavily disguised expressions of deep-seated wishes and fears and can give great insight into personality. These investigations led him to his theory of a three-part structure of personality: the id (unconscious biological drives, especially for sex), the superego (the conscience, guided by moral principles), and the ego (the mediator between the id and superego, guided by reality). Freud's last years were plagued by severe illness and the rise of Nazism, which regarded psychoanalysis as a "Jewish pollution." Through the intervention of the British and U.S. governments, he was allowed to emigrate in 1938 to England, where he died 15 months later, widely honored for his original thinking. His theories have had a profound impact on psychology, anthropology, art, and literature, as well as on the thinking of millions of ordinary people about their own lives. Freud's daughter Anna Freud was the founder of the Hampstead Child Therapy Clinic in London, where her specialty was applying psychoanalysis to children. Her major work was The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense (1936).

Mark Solms is a psychoanalyst and neuropsychologist. He is Professor in Neuropsychology at the University of Cape Town (South Africa), Honorary Lecturer in Neurosurgery at the St Bartholomew's and Royal London School of Medicine, Director of the Arnold Pfeffer Center for Neuropsychoanalysis at the New York Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, and Chair of the Research Committee of the International Psychoanalytical Association. He is President of the South African Psychoanalytical Association, Associate Member of the British Psychoanalytical Society, Honorary Member of the New York Psychoanalytic Society, and Member of the South African Clinical Neuropsychology Association and of the British Neuropsychological Society. He is a Member of the Academy of Science of South Africa, and Honorary Fellow of the American College of Psychoanalysts and of the American College of Psychiatrists. He has won many prestigious awards, including the Sigourney Award. He has authored a multitude of chapters, articles and books including The Neuropsychology of Dreams (1997), and was founding editor of the journal Neuropsychoanalysis.

Michael Saling is a professor of Psychological Studies, Chair of Professional Programs and Convenor of Clinical Neuropsychology at the University of Melbourne.

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