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Ritvo, L.B. (1965). Darwin as the Source of Freud's Neo-Lamarckianism. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 13:499-517.

(1965). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 13:499-517

Darwin as the Source of Freud's Neo-Lamarckianism

Lucille B. Ritvo

"FREUD'S Lamarckian propensities" were, according to Ernst Kris (31), "much regretted by many of us." Freud's neo-Lamarckian statements do indeed sound anachronistic in the light not only of modern biological findings but also of Freud's early, enduring, and knowledgeable enthusiasm for Darwin. As early as his high school days Freud (23) found that "the theories of Darwin, which were then of topical interest, strongly attracted me, for they held out hope of an extraordinary advance in our understanding of the world" (p. 8).

Freud's highly successful preanalytic work in science was almost exclusively along evolutionary lines at a time when evolutionary concepts were still highly controversial, even among biologists. A conspicuous exception is the only scientific work in which Freud mentions Lamarck; Freud's nonevolutionary work on coca refers to a 1783 paper on coca by Lamarck. In medical school Freud took Claus's elective course on "Darwin and Biology" and chose to work with the two men who had reputations as Darwinians, Carl Claus and Ernst Wilhelm von Brücke. By the time Freud turned to the treatment of hysteria he was thoroughly trained and experienced in the application of all aspects of evolutionary theory, phylogenetic, ontogenetic, and functional, and had contributed evidence for the support of Darwin's theory (36).

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