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History and philosophy of psychoanalysis

John Forrester

1. Basic bibliographical tools for work on Freud

A. Freud

The essential starting-point is the work of Freud, available in the remarkable English translation of James Strachey, with very good editorial apparatus. Note that the 24 vols (including index) do not include the so-called Pre-Psychoanalytic Work, less easily available in English:

  • Freud, Sigmund, The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, edited by James Strachey, London: Hogarth Press, 1953–74

The original German is less well edited: Gesammelte Werke (18 volumes), London: The Hogarth Press, 1940–68, copyright owned since 1960 by S. Fischer Verlag, together with Gesammelte Werke, Nachtragsband: Texte aus den Jahren 1885–1938, ed. A. Richards and I. Grubrich-Simitis, Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer, 1987.

For 'everyday use', there is the Studienausgabe (10 volumes with an unnumbered Ergänzungsband, Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Verlag, 1969–75), which is not complete, and the 15-volume Penguin Freud Library, also not complete, and based on the Standard Edition (SE).

For overviews of the present state of historiography of psychoanalysis, see:

  • Elisabeth Young-Bruehl, 'Freud studies', and John Forrester, '"A Whole Climate of Opinion": Writing and rewriting the history of psychoanalysis', both in: Roy Porter and Mark Micale (eds.), Discovering the History of Psychiatry, Oxford: Oxford University Press

B. Works of reference

  • Ernest Jones, Sigmund Freud. Life and Work, London: Hogarth, 1953–7. Written by the Disciple, but still a classic. The abridgement in one volume (Penguin) by Steven Marcus and Lionel Trilling is very well done.
  • Peter Gay, Freud. A Life for Our Time, London: Dent, 1988. Up to date and well judged, with some unevennesses; includes excellent Bibliographical Essay on the state of Freud scholarship in general.
  • J. Laplanche and J.-B. Pontalis, The Language of Psychoanalysis, London: Hogarth, 1973. Definitive and comprehensive dictionary of terms and concepts. Each entry is profoundly thought out and researched.
  • H. Ellenberger, The Discovery of the Unconscious, London: Allen Lane, 1970. Indispensable resource for the history of psychoanalysis, its relationship to hypnotism, psychiatry, occultism etc. Devotes considerable space to Jung and Janet, as well as Freud, and is still unsurpassed on the background in Mesmerism, hypnotism and the late nineteenth century interest in the occult.
  • Didier Anzieu, Freud's Self-Analysis, tr. Peter Graham, London: Hogarth Press & Institute of Psycho-analysis, 1986. A comprehensive account of the interaction of Freud's inner life and the development of his theories in the crucial 1890s.
  • Spurling, Laurence (ed.), Sigmund Freud. Critical Assessments, London & New York: Routledge, 1989, 4 vols. A very useful collection, in the main well selected, of the vast secondary literature on all aspects of Freud's work.

C. Correspondences

Freud wrote a lot of letters; much historical work on the history of psychoanalysis relies on these letters for tracing, almost day by day, the development of concepts, institutions, practices and conflicts. Amongst the principal and most interesting correspondences published to date, only a small portion of the total extant letters, are the following:

  • Freud, Sigmund, The Complete Letters of Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess. 1887–1904, ed. J.M. Masson, Cambridge (Mass.): Harvard University Press, 1984. Undoubtedly the most interesting collection of Freud's letters, perhaps the most interesting single book of any scientist's letters.
  • Freud and Ferenczi, Sándor, Correspondence, 1908–1914, ed. Eva Brabant, Ernst Falzeder and Patrizia Giampieri-Deutset, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1994
  • Freud and Jung, C.G, The Freud/Jung Letters, ed. William McGuire, tr. R. Manheim and R.F.C. Hull, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1974
  • Freud and Oskar Pfister, Psycho-analysis and Faith. The Letters of Sigmund Freud and Oskar Pfister, ed. Heinrich Meng and Ernst L. Freud, trans. Eric Mosbacher, London: The Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psycho-analysis, 1963
  • Freud and Ernest Jones, The Complete Correspondence of Sigmund Freud and Ernest Jones 1908–1939, ed. R. Andrew Paskauskas, Introduction by Riccardo Steiner, Cambridge & London: Harvard University Press, 1993

2. General works on Freud

For those with little acquaintance with Freud's work, I list my personal selection of useful and enjoyable books: the literature is absolutely vast, and ever-growing:

  • Appignanesi, Lisa and John Forrester, Freud's Women, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1992
  • Foucault, Michel, The History of Sexuality, Vol I., London: Allen Lane, 1979. What the author calls the 'archaeology of psychoanalysis'
  • Gellner, Ernest, The Psychoanalytic Movement, or the Cunning of Unreason, London: Paladin, 1985. A scathing attack on psychoanalysis, posing important questions about its significance in a secular, therapeutic society
  • Philip Rieff, Freud: The Mind of the Moralist, New York: Viking, 1959. Penetrating and cultured understanding and critique of Freud's vision and of psychoanalysis generally
  • Frank Sulloway, Freud. Biologist of the Mind, London: Burnett Books, 1979. Esp. Ch. 4, pp. 101–31, Ch. 7, pp. 238–76, Ch. 10, pp. 361–92. Avowedly demythologising and one-sided; has some excellent material on Freud's relations with biology and the Darwinian-Lamarckian background to psychoanalysis.

3. More general study of history of psychoanalysis

Much of the work has been done on a national basis, or as the history of the psychoanalytic movement.

  • Roazen, Paul, Freud and his followers, London: Allen Lane, 1975. Chatty and sometimes scurrilous, but has lots of useful information.

For the USA:

  • Burnham, J.C., Psychoanalysis and American Medicine, 1894–1918: Medicine, Science and Culture, NY: IUP, 1967
  • Hale, Nathan G., Freud and the Americans: The Beginnings of Psychoanalysis in the United States, 1876–1917, New York: O.U.P., 1971

For Germany (in English), there is:

  • Decker, Hannah, S., Freud in Germany, New York: I.U.P., 1977

For France, there is the extremely interesting and well researched:

  • Roudinesco, Elizabeth, La Bataille de Cent Ans. L'Histoire de la Psychanalyse en France, Vol. I 1886–1925, Paris: Editions Ramsey, 1983, reprinted by Seuil, 1986.
  • id., La Bataille de Cent Ans. Histoire de la psychanalyse en France. Vol. 2. 1925–1985, Paris: Seuil, 1986, (translated as Jacques Lacan & Co, A History of Psychoanalysis in France, 1925–1985, translated, with a Foreword, by Jeffrey Mehlman, London: Free Associations, 1990.)

4. Post Freudian psychoanalytic theory

There are problems doing history here, partly because history usually turns into fighting a theoretical corner. It doesn't have to, though, but reading the basic texts of later psychoanalytic theorists and practitioners is indispensable. So I list some of the most important:

A. Melanie Klein

  • Klein, Melanie, The Essential Writings, ed. Juliet Mitchell, London: Penguin, 1986.
  • Hanna Segal, Klein, Fontana Modern Masters, 1979.
  • Grosskurth, Phyllis, Melanie Klein. Her world and her work, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1986. A useful biography, rather short on discussion and understanding of Klein's actual work and theories.

B. Michael Balint

  • Balint, Michael, The Doctor, His Patient and the Illness, London: Pitman Medical, 1957. The classic that described the psychoanalytic view of general medical practice, and the uses of psychoanalysis within that practice.

C. Donald Winnicott

i. Writings

  • Winnicott, D. W., Maturational Processes and the Facilitating Environment, London: The Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psycho-analysis, 1965.
  • id., The Child, the Family and the Outside World, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1964.
  • id., Psycho-Analytic explorations, ed. Clare Winnicott, Ray Shepherd, Madeleine Davis, London: Karnac, 1989.
  • id., Playing and Reality, Penguin, 1971. Includes his classic paper on 'Transitional objects and transitional phenomena'.

ii. Secondary sources

  • Adam Phillips, Winnicott, London: Collins/Fontana, 1988. Sophisticated and lucid.

D. Bion

  • Wilfred Bion, Experiences in Groups, London: Tavistock, 1952

E. Lacan

  • Ecrits; A Selection, trans. Alan Sheridan, London: Tavistock, 1977
  • The Seminar. Book I. Freud's Papers on Technique 1953–1954 (1975), trans. with notes by John Forrester. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press/New York: Norton & Co., 1988
  • The Seminar. Book II. The Ego in Freud's Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis, 1954–1955 (1978), trans. Sylvana Tomaselli, with notes by John Forrester. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press/New York: Norton & Co., 1988
  • Mitchell, Juliet and Rose, Jacqueline, eds., Feminine Sexuality. Jacques Lacan and the Ecole Freudienne, trans. Jacqueline Rose, London: Macmillan, 1982. Especially Rose's introduction, Lacan's articles on transference, the phallus and feminine sexuality.

The best introduction to Lacan is:

  • Bowie, Malcolm, Lacan, London: Fontana, 1991

5. Philosophy and psychoanalysis

There is also a vast literature here, much of that written in English concentrated either on the question 'is psychoanalysis a science?', or 'the influence of Freud on philosophy of mind (i.e how can a philosopher think the unconscious?)'. There is also a growing literature on psychoanalysis and ethics. Non-English language philosophical approaches to psychoanalysis are very different: Ricoeur and Habermas are well-known, somewhat dated, indications of that. I list a few useful and good books:

  • James Hopkins and Richard Wollheim, Philosophical Essays on Freud, Cambridge U.P., 1984. It includes Wittgenstein's conversations on Freud, Sartre's discussion of mauvaise foi and papers criticising Sartre's views. See also Glymour's paper on Freud's use of clinical evidence to modify theory, and an important essay by Donald Davidson, arguing that any sensible view of the mind will include sub-systems like the unconscious.
  • Neu, Jerome (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Freud, Cambridge: C.U.P., 1991. A good collection with a wide purview.
  • Ricoeur, Paul, Freud and Philosophy, New York: Yale University Press, 1970. The most comprehensive account of Freud's theories from a philosophical point of view, with very good reviews of questions pertaining to the relations between psychoanalysis and psychology.
  • Alisdair MacIntyre, The Unconscious. A conceptual analysis, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1958. A neo-Wittgensteinian analysis of Freud's central concept.
  • Jürgen Habermas, Knowledge and Human Interests, London: Heinemann, 1972. Chs. 10, 11 and 12 are specifically and very interestingly on Freud.
  • Michael S. Moore, Law and Psychiatry. Rethinking the relationship, C.U.P., 1984. Despite its title, primarily addressed to philosophical questions relating to psychoanalytic concepts, in particular in Part III, 'Practical reason and the unconscious', pp. 249–385.
  • Adolf Grünbaum, The Foundations of Psychoanalysis, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984. A sustained attack on the credentials of Freudian theory, from a (roughly) neo-positivistic philosophical position. See the reply by Sachs, David, 'In fairness to Freud. A critical review of Adolf Grünbaum's The Foundations of Psychoanalysis' in: Neu, Jerome (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Freud, Cambridge: C.U.P., pp. 309–39.