The Basic Writings of Sigmund Freud

THE BASIC WRITINGS OF SIGMUND FREUD  – Translated and Edited by Dr. A. A. Brill pdf


Sigmund Freud was bom on May 6, 1856, in the small Moravian town of Freiberg (now Pribor, Czechoslovakia). His father, Jacob Freud, was a struggling wool merchant; his mother, Amalia (nee Nathansohn), eventually bore seven more children. Freud also had two much older half-brothers, offspring of his father’s first marriage. When the boy was nearly four, financial difficulties forced the Freuds to move to Vienna. The young Freud proved to be a brilliant and dedicated student, regularly finishing first in his class.

“In my youth I felt an overpowering need to understand something of the riddles of the world in which we live and perhaps even to contribute something to their solution,” he later recalled. Freud entered the University of Vienna as a medical student in 1873, at the age of seventeen and found the work in physiology and neurology so fascinating that he did not complete a degree until 1881.

The following year Freud accepted a position at the Vienna General Hospital, where he concentrated on the study of cerebral anatomy and also conducted research on the possible clinical uses of cocaine. From October 1885 to February 1886 he trained in Paris with acclaimed French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, who impressed Freud with his use of hypnosis in the treatment of hysteria and other nervous disorders. Returning to Vienna in the spring of 1886, Freud set up private practice as a consultant in nervous diseases and became a leading authority on the cerebral palsies of children.

In September 1886 he married Martha Bernays after an engagement of four years. Within a decade the couple had six children, the youngest of whom, Anna, grew up to be her father’s confidante and disciple and later a celebrated psychoanalyst in her own right.

Freud’s interest gradually shifted from neurology to psychopathology. Inspired by the work of a fatherly colleague, internist Josef Breuer, he began using hypnosis and free association in the cure of women suffering from hysteria. Studies in Hysteria, issued jointly with Breuer in 1895, documented several case histories— including that of “Anna 0.,” the founding patient of psychoanalysis—and described the technique of transference.

In addition, Freud’s voluminous, fifteen-year correspondence with Berlin physician Wilhelm Fliess (published posthumously in 1950) illuminates the development of his views at this time. Especially germane is the essay “Project for a Scientific Psychology” originally included in letters to Fliess. Written in 1895 it represents Freud’s unsuccessful attempt to state the facts of psychology in purely neurological terms. Nevertheless, the work anticipated many of his later theories, and in the spring of 1896 he introduced the term psychoanalysis. The death of his father that October prompted Freud to begin rigorous self-analysis, which culminated in the recognition of infantile sexuality and the description of the Oedipus complex.

Freud ended this period of self-described “splendid isolation.” Fie published two groundbreaking works—The Interpretation of Dreams (1900) and Psychopathology of Everyday Life (1904)—and started meeting with other physicians, including Alfred Adler, every Wednesday night in his apartment at Berggasse 19 to ponder psychoanalytic questions. The group eventually became the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. In 1905 Freud issued two more books that further reinforced psychoanalytic thought: Three Contributions to the Theory of Sex and Wit and Its Relation to the Unconscious.

The same year marked the appearance of the first of his famous case histories, “Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Flysteria,” popularly known as the “Dora case.” Fie later enriched the psychoanalytic canon with “Analysis of a Phobia in a Five-Year-Old Boy” (“Little Flans,” 1909), “Notes upon a Case of Obsessional Neurosis” (“Rat Man,” 1909), “Psychoanalytic Notes on an Autobiographical Account of a Case of Paranoia” (“Schreber case,” 1911), and “From the Flistory of an Infantile Neurosis” (“Wolf Man,” 1918). Freud also brought out papers on countless topics outside the realm of clinical specialization such as “Obsessive Actions and Religious Practices” (1907), “Creative Writers and Daydreaming” (1908), and “Leonardo da Vinci and a Memory of Flis Childhood” (1910).

As Freud’s ideas circulated abroad they attracted the attention of young Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, whom Freud later privately named as his successor. In 1909 the two journeyed together to the United States to lecture. Their close involvement, however, created dissension within the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society; in 1911 Adler and others withdrew from the group. Differences between Freud and Jung caused a gradual estrangement. In 1914 Freud terminated their friendship, delivering a powerful polemic against both Jung and Adler in The History of the Psychoanalytic Movement. Moreover, Totem and Taboo (1913), an application of psychoanalysis to social anthropology, was viewed by some as a denunciation of Jung and other members of the movement.

Although the outbreak of World War I brought psychoanalytic activity to a virtual standstill, Freud’s mind did not remain idle. Beginning in 1915 he delivered a series of lectures at the University of Vienna, hoping to familiarize “a mixed audience of physicians and laymen of both sexes” with the fundamentals of psychoanalysis. (Included in the audience was his daughter Anna.) They were published in 1917 as Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis. During the immediate postwar years, Freud wrote three short but highly influential books: Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920), the first formulation of his theory of the death drive; Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego (1921), an exploration of the forces that hold social entities together; and The Ego and the Id (1923), a now classic study on the structure of the mind.

In the spring of 1923 Freud underwent the first of many operations to remove malignant tumors from his palate. Although rarely free of pain, he never stopped working. Fie continued to analyze patients and revise his theories. In Inhibitions, Symptoms, and Anxiety (1926) Freud reversed his earlier views on anxiety. Fie turned out several books that captured a wide general audience. The Future of an Illusion (1927) was his atheist’s attempt to debunk religious dogmas using psychoanalytic tools. Civilization and Its Discontents (1930), a look at modern society on the brink of catastrophe, was awarded the Goethe Prize by the city of Frankfurt.

The last years of Freud’s life were engulfed by the very cataclysm he had foretold. In 1933 Hitler came to power in Germany, and Freud’s books were publicly burned in Berlin. On the morning of March 12, 1938, the Germans marched into Austria. Freud left Vienna on June 4, 1938, for Paris and arrived in London on June 6, where he had come “to die in freedom.” Though aged and sick, he kept working; a final book, Moses and Monotheism, appeared in 1939. Sigmund Freud died on September 23, 1939.

Some years before Freud’s death, Hermann Hesse made this observation about the analyst’s lifework: “The beautiful and strikingly attractive thing about Freud’s writings is the preoccupation of a remarkably strong intellect with questions that all lead into the supra-rational, the constantly renewed, patient, and yet daring attempt of a disciplined mind to capture life itself in the net of pure science—too coarse though that net always is.

The conscientious researcher and lucid logician, Freud has created for himself a magnificent instrument in a language that is not only intellectualistic but razor-sharp, with its precise definitions and occasional joy in conflict and derision. Of how many of our scholars can this be said?”



I. Forgetting of Proper Names
II. Forgetting of Foreign Words
III. Forgetting of Names and Order of Words
IV. Childhood and Concealing Memories
V. Mistakes in Speech
VI. Mistakes in Reading and Writing
VII. Forgetting of Impressions and Resolutions
VIII. Erroneously Carried-out Actions
IX Symptomatic and Chance Actions
X Errors
XI Combined Faulty Acts
XII Determinism—Chance—and Superstitious Beliefs


III The Dream as Wish-Fulfilment
IV Distortion in Dreams
V The Material and Sources of Dreams
VI The Dream-Work
VII The Psychology of the Dream-Processes



I The Sexual Aberrations
II Infantile Sexuality
III The Transformations of Puberty


A. Analysis
I Introduction
II The Technique of Wit
III The Tendencies of Wit
B. Synthesis
IV The Pleasure Mechanism and the Psychogenesis of Wit
V The Motives of Wit and Wit as a Social Process
C. Theoretical Part
VI The Relation of Wit to Dreams and to the Unconscious
VII Wit and the Various Forms of the Comic


I The Savage’s Dread of Incest
II Taboo and the Ambivalence of Emotions
III Animism, Magic and the Omnipotence of Thought
IV The Infantile Recurrence of Totemism


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