Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis, which could more properly be entitled “Introductory Lectures in Psychoanalysis,” probably remains the most widely used and popular means of introducing Sigmund Freud’s ideas of the psyche. Given during World War I, these lectures embody the results of Freud’s analytical research between 1895 and 1910, when the basic groundwork was set for his revolutionary ideas about the role of the unconscious and the power of sexuality in the life of the mind. Freud undertook several other introductory surveys in later years, but these lectures remain the most concise and useful of the Freudian surveys. Although a veritable army of subsequent Freudian scholars and psychoanalysts have explicated the Viennese pioneer, none can replace Freud’s own writings, for he is an excellent stylist and the power of his mind speaks in every paragraph, even in translation. Freud reproduces his own quest for meaning in these lectures and involves the reader in what is, among other things, one of the greatest detective stories ever written. Another device, which Freud employs here as elsewhere, is to have frequent recourse to dialogue between himself and an imaginary, quasi-hostile critic. With this rhetorical procedure, Freud succeeds in half convincing his readers even before he has begun to present his arguments in full.
In his first four lectures, Freud gives an analysis of the psychology of errors as a simple means of...
(The entire section is 1392 words.)
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