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Erikson, E.H. (1955). Freud's 'The Origins of Psycho-Analysis'. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 36:1-15.

(1955). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 36:1-15

Freud's 'The Origins of Psycho-Analysis'

Erik Homburger Erikson


After an interval of four years the translation into English of Aus den Anfängen der Psycho-analyse, Sigmund Freud's personal and scientific communications to Wilhelm Fliess, has followed their publication in German. It is more simply called The Origins of Psycho-analysis. Such directness is deserved, for these letters and drafts, in the formulation of the editors, 'amplify the prehistory and early history of psycho-analysis in a way that no other available material does, provide insight into certain phases of Freud's intellectual processes from his first clinical impressions until the formulation of his theory, throw light on the blind alleys and wrong roads into which he was diverted in the process of hypothesis-building, and furnish a vivid picture of him in the difficult years during which his interest shifted from physiology and neurology to psychology and psychopathology.' (x) No reviewer could improve on the poignancy and brevity of this statement; for better or for worse, he can only enlarge upon it.

The man who wrote these letters had indicated twice that he wished them destroyed: first by way of a pact with his correspondent, whose letters he himself did not preserve, and again when the letters, having survived Fliess's death and his family's emigration from Nazi Germany, found their way into the hands of one of the editors. As if to counteract their valiant insistence on this publication the editors attempt to limit the readership and to determine the use of this volume by suggesting in their preface that the material here released 'contains nothing sensational'.

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