New Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis

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In 1932 the financial situation of the world, shaken by the aftermath of World War I and the economic crisis that had struck the United States, threatened the existence of the Internationaler Psychoanalytischer Verlag (International Psychoanalytical Publishers). Measures were taken, including an appeal to psychoanalytic societies and the creation of an international management committee, at the Twelfth International Psychoanalytic Congress held in Wiesbaden in September 1932. Beginning in the spring of that year, however, Freud was occupied with writing a follow-up to the volume that, of all his works, remains the most popular worldwide: his Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis (1916-17 [1915-17]). This follow-up was the New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, completed at the end of August and released on December 6, 1932, despite the 1933 copyright date. In his preface, Freud explained that illness prevented him from teaching courses as he had done in 1915, but that he had used "an artifice of the imagination" (p. 5) to write these lectures, which, he said, were only "continuations and supplements" (p. 5) of the earlier lectures—hence their numbering. In reality, these texts represented a major synthesis and updating of theories that had been considerably modified since 1923. They were no longer intended for a neophyte public, but for informed readers who were to find in them theoretical and practical advice and refinements. The twenty-ninth lecture is titled "Revision of the Theory of Dreams." It contains few new elements, except for the assertion that not all dreams can be interpreted, and the attenuation of the former understanding of dreams as "wish-fulfillment" by taking into account repetition in traumatic neuroses or the reproduction of painful childhood events. The thirtieth lecture, "Dreams and Occultism," takes on a universally contested subject. Although Freud set forth all the arguments that cause the scientific mind to doubt the existence of telepathic transmission, he also gave some examples of observations that had perplexed him, including that of Vorsicht/Forsyth, and he wrote, "I must encourage you to have kindlier thoughts on the objective possibility of thought-transference and at the same time of telepathy as well" (p. 54). The thirty-first lecture, "Dissection of the Psychical Personality," emphasizes subjects that had characterized theoretical research in psychoanalysis since the establishing of the second topography (structural theory): stress upon the ego, the importance of the superego, the abandonment of the agency of the unconscious in favor of recognizing an "unconscious" character in other sectors of the personality, and its replacement by the agency of the id. The lecture concludes with the well-known propositions concerning "the therapeutic efforts of psychoanalysis. . . . Its intention is, indeed, to strengthen the ego, to make it more independent of the super-ego, to widen its field of perception and enlarge its organization, so that it can appropriate fresh portions of the id. Where id was, there ego shall be [Wo Es war, soll Ich Werden]. It is a work of culture, not unlike the draining of the Zuider Zee" (p. 80). The thirty-second lecture, "Anxiety and Instinctual Life," describes the new theory already put forth in "Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety" (1926), which holds that repression is not what creates anxiety; rather, anxiety, residing in the ego alone, is what creates repression. Moreover, "the instinctual situation which is feared goes back ultimately to an external situation of danger" (p. 89): the danger of the state of powerless to help oneself (Hilflosigkeit) in the earliest period of life, the danger of castration in the phallic stage, anxiety in the face of the superego during the latency period. The lecture ends with a presentation of the "theory of the instincts" which "is so to say our mythology" (p. 95). The return to a description of the instincts and their vicissitudes leads, above all, to a new picture of the opposition and blending of the sexual instincts, Eros, and the aggressive instincts, "the expression of a 'death instinct' which cannot fail to be present in every vital process" (p. 107). The thirty-third lecture, "Femininity," has caused a good deal of controversy. The "riddle of femininity" (p. 116) is not explained, and rather than trying to describe "what a woman is" (p. 116) Freud tried to understand "how she comes into being" (p. 116). He emphasized the girl's preoedipal attachment to her mother and the frequency of its transformation into hate at the time of the organization of "penis envy." Henceforth, he would view this early bond of love and the needs that accompany it as the source of fantasies of seduction. However, faced with "the riddle of femininity," he concluded: "If you want to know more about femininity, enquire from your own experiences of life, or turn to the poets, or wait until science can give you deeper and more coherent information" (p. 135). The thirty-fourth lecture, titled "Explanations, Applications and Orientations," returns to the points of dissent that had marked the history of psychoanalysis and comments on them. In the section on applications there is a plea in favor of teaching—with Freud commenting, "I am glad that I am at least able to say that my daughter, Anna Freud, has made this study her life-work" (p. 147)—and thus in favor of the use of analytic therapy for children. "[E]ducation must find its way between the Scylla of non-interference and the Charybdis of frustration" (p. 149), Freud reminded readers, before giving his concluding considerations on psychoanalysis as therapy: "You are perhaps aware that I have never been a therapeutic enthusiast" (p. 151), but nevertheless, "[c]ompared with the other psychotherapeutic procedures psycho-analysis is beyond any doubt the most powerful" (p. 153). However, in cases such as psychoses where a constitutional factor comes into play, the weight of the family environment for children, and the rigidity of some adults shows the limits of possible action. Further, the analytic work requires a long period of treatment, despite attempts that had been made (Otto Rank) to shorten cures. The final lecture, "On a Weltanschauung," was actually written first, and it refuses psychoanalysis the pretension of offering a new world view. Its scope is limited to the scientific, and in this it differs from religion and philosophy, as well as from political ideologies such as bolshevism. Freud concluded with a paean to science, to which psychoanalysis must link itself. "A Weltanschauung erected upon science has, apart from its emphasis on the real external world, mainly negative traits, such as submission to the truth and rejection of illusions. Any of our fellow-men who is dissatisfied with this state of things, who calls for more than this for his momentary consolation, may look for it where he can find it" (p. 182).

See Also


  1. Freud, Sigmund. (1933a [1932]). Neue folge der vorlesungen sur einfürhung in die psychoanalyse. Leipzig, Vienna, and Zurich: Internationaler Psychoanalytischer Verlag; New introductory lectures on psycho-analysis. SE, 22: 1-182.