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Saul, L.J. (1943). The Living Thoughts of Freud: By Robert Waelder, Ph.D. New York and Toronto: Longmans, Green & Co., 1941. 168 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 12:256-257.

(1943). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 12:256-257

The Living Thoughts of Freud: By Robert Waelder, Ph.D. New York and Toronto: Longmans, Green & Co., 1941. 168 pp.

Review by:
Leon J. Saul

This small volume is one of a series by eminent living authors, which seeks to present the thoughts of great men who have laid the foundations of our civilization. The idea of such a digest of the contributions of the world's great thinkers is in keeping with our times, in which digests of all sorts have become necessary and popular. The difficulties faced by Waelder in essaying to present excerpts from the works of Freud which will convey the essence of his thoughts will be immediately apparent to the analyst. After an orienting historical introduction, in his usual clear style, Waelder presents within 136 pages excerpts from the Problems of Lay Analysis, the New Introductory Lectures, Moses and Monotheism, Outline of Psychoanalysis, Autobiography, General Introduction to Psychoanalysis, and One of the Difficulties of Psychoanalysis. These succeed in giving the reader some intimate contact with Freud's thinking, but they are for the most part abstruse and difficult reading for the layman; whereas Freud is speaking of the daily realities of his practice, the layman has no such experience and can only endeavor to follow the thought itself. Hence the excerpts on dreams, on the superego, and on education will probably have more appeal than the opening theoretical discussion of personality structure and repression. A presentation of psychoanalysis would be an easier task than a presentation of Freud's 'thoughts'. The lack of clinical material gives one the feeling of being introduced to an abstract system rather than of learning to observe psychological realities. However, certain educators emphasize acquaintance with the 'thoughts' of great men, rather than with the realities revealed by science. Despite the fact that Waelder has done a remarkable job in presenting so much of Freud in such a short space, there is danger that this volume will give the impression that Freud was primarily a theorist rather than a great empirical observer.

The book is of particular interest to the analyst because it brings out clearly the extent of advance in psychoanalytic knowledge (except in the fields of dreams and of personality structure) since Freud showed the way.

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