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Niederland, W.G. (1957). Sigmund Freud. Four Centenary Addresses: By Ernest Jones, M.D. New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1956. 150 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 26:118-119.

(1957). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 26:118-119

Sigmund Freud. Four Centenary Addresses: By Ernest Jones, M.D. New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1956. 150 pp.

Review by:
William G. Niederland

This absorbing little volume contains the four Freud Centenary lectures addressed by Ernest Jones to the profession as well as to the enlightened lay public. Three of these lectures were delivered in the United States and one in Great Britain, all on the occasion of the hundredth anniversary of Freud's birth. In their directness of approach, clarity of formulation, compactness of style and thought, these addresses are not only a tribute to the greatness of the master in whose honor they were made, but also attest to the loyalty and fecundity of the disciple, biographer, and pioneer of analytic thinking who delivered them.

The first lecture, delivered as the 1956 Freud Anniversary Lecture before the New York Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, is entitled The Nature of Genius. Starting from the premise that attempts to define genius have not proved helpful, on the whole, Jones sets out to survey in broad outline some of the psychic factors operative in 'certain forms of productive thinking'. Among these, he briefly discusses the elements of intellectual surprise, spontaneity of production, periodicity of creativeness, originality of thought, power of concentration, love of truth; and transcending all these that the genius possesses is, according to Jones, a remarkable capacity 'for perceiving with somnambulic sureness what is absolutely and universally true', a capacity which he sees often combined with a certain naïveté and 'curious credulity'. Most of these elements which were prominent features of Freud's personality, Jones also finds, in varying degrees, in Copernicus, Newton, Faraday, Darwin, and other men of genius.

The second lecture, Our Attitude Toward Greatness, was delivered before the annual meeting of the American Psychoanalytic Association in Chicago, in April 1956. After describing the courage, loneliness, and revolutionary originality of Freud's achievement, Jones turns to the 'varying degrees of ambivalence' with which the medical profession and the world at large received this achievement. He recalls the hostile outpourings of 'German neurologists and psychiatrists… for at least twenty years', and the almost universal condemnation of Freud's work by that particular generation of psychiatrists.

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