150: Freud for Beginners by Richard Appignanesi

by Gerard


150.1952: Appignanesi, Richard. Freud for Beginners. Illustrated by Oscar Zarate. New York: Pantheon, 1979. 168 pp. ISBN 0-394-73800-4.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 100: Philosophy and Psychology
  • 150: Psychology
  • 150.1: Philosophy and theory of psychology
  • 150.19: Systems, schools, and viewpoints
  • 150.195: Psychoanalytic systems
  • 150.1952: Freudian system

The flu has passed. I was able to wake early this morning and really attack the weekend. Luckily for you, that means I might get through two books today. The first one is a very odd summation of Sigmund Freud’s life and work. Odd in the fact that it present Freud’s history as a sort of graphic novel with photo collages and hand-drawn illustrations of his case studies and theories. Let’s take a look.

The book is a fairly linear biography, with the important case studies fleshed out to show how his psychoanalytical techniques helped him to cure those particular patients. It shows that as his theories evolved, so did his writing and conception of both human history and human consciousness. Because those theories took control away from the conscious mind and gave it to the unconscious, he naturally came under a lot of criticism. Unfortunately, though, for him, his theories also became more convoluted every time he came across a case that couldn’t be handled by previous findings. The book also details the basic outline of each of his publications (with the exception of Moses and Monotheism).

Appignanesi has put out a few of these illustrated beginners manuals on various subjects, including Lenin and postmodernism. I think the inclusion of loads of illustrations along with short bursts of “textbook-y” parts makes it easier to consume the high-level information about the subject. It really helps to get away from the dusty, old college course feel that some books on psychology can have. The drawings are strange at times, and downright sexual at others, but if you’re going to illustrate Freud’s theories, there’s going be some genitalia in there somewhere. If you’re looking for dip your toe into Freudian psychology, then this one might be right up your alley. Just don’t read too much into it.