Introduction to Psychoanalysis, 1917, by Sigmund Freud
The book Introduction to Psychoanalysis is currently one of the most used to introduce students of psychology to Freud's theories on the human psyche. It is worth noting that these lectures by Freud were given during the First World War. These notes helped to lay the groundwork for his later works. In this lectures, Freud gives a concise description to the audience about his discovery of the unconscious. He would also begin to put forth the role of sexuality in the development of the individual. Although many other scholars later tried to duplicate his work, nothing came close to the mastery with which Freud wrote these lectures. The book gave the world a new perspective on dreams and acts that seem random and unrelated. These notes were the foundation on which modern psychoanalysis was built. Throughout the lectures that make up the book, Freud uses a conversational tone. In so doing, the book gives of the reader concrete insights into psychoanalysis.
In the first part of his lecture, Freud deals primarily with what came to be known as the 'Freudian slip'. Freud further expounds on the ideas he had presented over the course of his career that there was no such thing as random acts. He claimed that common slips of the tongue people make are not random. Instead, he claimed that these seemingly random acts were the suppressed subconscious seeking an out.
During these instances when one may make an atrocious and at times embarrassing comment, it was simply the subconscious acting out. Due to this conflict between suppressed emotions and the conscious mind, one would end up making incomprehensible statements. Freud thus it was of great significance to listen to a patient's speech intensely in order to gain insights into their subconscious. Freud also postulated these slips were not limited to speech. Even common mistakes made during writing could give insights into the subconscious and thus suppressed memories and emotions. This lectures stressed the significance of the subconscious and the role it plays in everyday life.
In the second of the three-part lectures, Freud set out to explain his dream theory with indepth clarity that only a grandmaster of psychoanalysis could master. It is easily understood by even the laymen of psychoanalysis. Throughout his life, Freud had postulated that patients of mental illness could be explained by a close study of their dreams. In this first part, Freud explains his methodology and presents evidence of this theory. He set out to show the basics of how it works. In these lecture, Freud explained that dreams were a mere manifestation of the conscious in the unconscious. He postulates that dreams, no matter how wild they may be are instigated first from the conscious mind, by the desires of an individual. It was his belief that listening to a patient's dream was one of the way to begin treating borderline mental illnesses. By applying his analytical methods, a doctor could help brings the patient's subconscious into the conscious. In so doing, the patients could be treated by understanding themselves.
Giving the patient a detailed analysis as to what may be the cause of their dreams brings to the conscious, repressed memories, which the patient may not even be aware they had. Freud insisted that every dreamer was well aware of dreams meant. However, they may not even be aware that they have this knowledge. The main reason for dreams, according to Freud was that the conscious was afraid of dealing with realities of the world. However, the only downside to this dream theory was Freud's insistence on sexualizing everything. He overstated the importance of the sexual relations on everyday human life.
In the third and final part of the lectures, Freud deals with the subject of neurosis. This was relatively new at the time. Simply, neurosis is a manifestation of emotional disorders, primarily anxiety. Freud insisted that everyone had some kind of neurosis. However, the only difference between ordinary people and patients was the degree to which it afflicted them. Neuroses were not known to be caused by anything physical. Freud postulated that the answer lay in the subconscious. Hence, for a doctor to successfully treat severely neurotic patients, were had to make a careful examination into their past.
Again, we see Freud's obsession with sexual nature of man. It was his insistence that a neurosis was simply a manifestation of prior sexual frustrations. He insisted that a patient with an extreme form of a neurosis had simply had an incomplete psychosexual development in their formative years. Freud further observed that all patients who had a neurosis were aware that they had the neurosis. For instance, a girl who was addicted to sex had an undesirable sexual attachment to the father. Unfortunately, her psychosexual development was incomplete during her formative years. As a result, she became obsessed with fulfilling this desire. For one to treat a patient with success, Freud insisted it was important to make him or her aware of the origin of their neurosis. He insisted the only way to treat this manifestation of repressed memories and desire was allow them to play out. However, Freud insisted that a patient merely knowing where their neurosis originates was not a cure in itself. The patient must know and internalize the cause of such symptoms into their subconscious.
This was one of Freud's most comprehensive works. Although he later gave other lectures on the same topic, none of them quite captures his works like Introduction into Psychoanalysis. The theories of Freud definitely cast a dark shadow during the early part of the twentieth century. He transformed everyday experiences into repressed sexual desires. Despite that, the significance of his contribution to psychoanalysis is undeniable. His early, rudimentary works help create discussions around the issues of mental health. However, even Freud was critical of his own work. He claimed that it was unrefined theories intended for laymen. Freud did help to give useful future researchers into the importance of the human subconscious. This is despite the fact that most of his theories have been discredited by modern scientific research.