131: An Outline of Psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud

by Gerard

131: Freud, Sigmund. An Outline of Psychoanalysis. Translated by James Strachey. New York: W.W. Norton, 1949. 124 pp.

Dewey Construction:

  • 100: Philosophy and Psychology
  • 130: Parapsychology and occultism
  • 131: Parapsychological and occult methods for achieving well-being, happiness, success

As promised: today’s second review:

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) is the founding father of psychoanalysis, a line of psychological and therapeutic philosophy that aims to understand the disturbed patient, isolate the troubling memory, and release its hold on the subject. His Outline of Psychoanalysis was published posthumously in 1940 and gives the foundation of the science as well as guidelines for its application with patients. In it, he hits all the major hotspots of Freudian philosophy—the tripartite structure of the psyche, the mechanisms by which you can and should interpret dreams, and sexual and psychical development of human beings.

The work comes with an introductory note:

The aim of this brief work is to bring together the doctrines of psychoanalysis and to state them, as it were, dogmatically—in the most concise form and in the positive terms. Its intention is naturally not to compel belief or to establish conviction.

The teachings of psychoanalysis are based upon an incalculable number of observations and experiences, and no one who has not repeated those observations upon himself or upon others is in a position to arrive at an independent judgment of it.

That seemed both rather proscriptive and presumptuous, so I decided to disregard his warning and pass judgment anyway.

You always have to on your guard when reading Freud. Since he pretty much inventing modern psychology, many of his basic tenets make a lot of sense. The problem comes when he takes crazy Willy Wonka turns, and starts in with the “babies have sexual urges” argument or classic “women with phallus envy” credo. It’s at this point where the wheels fall of the wagon. His basic psychological structure of the id, ego, and superego seems legit and many people still espouse the same beliefs, but much of the fringe theories have since been upended.

A word on the Dewey placement: there’s actually a place for Freudian psychoanalysis at 150.1952. So why did I place this review at 131 and not 150? Because—there’s a major difference between Freudian psychoanalysis in the 1930s and the kind being practiced today. Freudian psychoanalysis has undergone many shifts in philosophy since its inception. Modern practitioners believe that many of its early components belong more in the realm of pseudoscience. So, a text written by Freud detailing the early philosophy and practice of psychoanalysis is more appropriately classed in parapsychology than in regular psychology. Had I read a text on the theory or practice of modern Freudian psychoanalysis, then it would go into 150. But alas, I stuck with Freud’s actual words. I can’t say I’m much better for it, though.