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Wittels, F. (1949). A Neglected Boundary of Psychoanalysis. Psychoanal Q., 18:44-59.

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(1949). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 18:44-59

A Neglected Boundary of Psychoanalysis

Fritz Wittels, M.D.

For from ten to fifteen years, Freud had no collaborators and no 'school', but pursued his investigations independently. It was not so much the chronological lead but rather his specific genius that enabled him to stand at the helm of psychoanalysis to the end of his days. His monumental book on dreams was published during his first years of isolation. Only five years elapsed between that book and the concentrated summary of his theories of sex which contained so many of his revolutionary discoveries. In 1923, though he then had numerous collaborators, it was he alone who mapped the fundamental anatomy of the psychic apparatus—id, ego, and superego. Alfred Adler had spoken of the instinct of aggression before Freud, but the psychoanalysts became familiar with it only in Freud's later and by far deeper definition.

Freud's specific method of investigation, which I have elsewhere compared with Goethe's, was not suitable for setting up boundaries and strict definitions. Through insight into himself, he came to understand a psychological phenomenon, and from the beginning his discoveries carried a strong inner conviction of certitude. In a letter, published in my book on Freud, he stated: 'I have no use for other persons' ideas when they are presented to me at an inopportune moment'. Still, this type of subjective discovery did not satisfy him scientifically. He tried, therefore, to verify his vision by as much scientific evidence as possible and only after long and painstaking observations did he feel justified in publishing his innovations. Collaborators could not help him in this procedure.


Read before the New York Psychoanalytic Society, February 24, 1948.

1 Wittels, Fritz: Freud and His Time. New York: Liveright Publishing Corp., 1931 and 1948.

2 Wittels, Fritz: Sigmund Freud: His Personality, His Teaching and His School. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1924.

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