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Reppen, J. (2006). Introduction to Special Issue—The Relevance of Sigmund Freud for the 21st Century. Psychoanal. Psychol., 23(2):215-216.

(2006). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 23(2):215-216

Introduction to Special Issue—The Relevance of Sigmund Freud for the 21st Century

Joseph Reppen, Ph.D.

to us he is no more a person

now but a whole climate of opinion

W. H. Auden, In Memory of Sigmund Freud

These words were written shortly after Freud's death in 1939. Auden was reflecting the profound influence of Freud and psychoanalysis on the understanding of literature, art, and the human mind. Auden's words are relevant today.

This special issue of Psychoanalytic Psychology celebrates the 150th anniversary of the birth of Sigmund Freud on May 6, 1856. The 15 papers and one book review in different ways address the question of Freud's continued relevance. The title might alternately have been “Is Freud Relevant Today?” Witness the marginalization of psychoanalysis in psychology textbooks and the proliferation of competing theories. If Freud has been put on the shelf, his ideas are present in our everyday speech and in the reinvention and revisions of psychoanalytic concepts in psychology, something that Robert Bornstein so succinctly addresses. Thus, to call repression cognitive avoidance and parapraxis retrieval error changes the words but not the phenomena (Bornstein, 2005, p. 327). Human conflict by any other name is still conflict.

This 150th anniversary may not have the excitement of the 100th anniversary of Freud's birth. In 1956, each volume of Jones's biography of Freud was eagerly awaited and in my graduate school, Freud was prominently studied and psychoanalysts were well represented on faculties of psychology. Nevertheless, the vitality of our Division and the prominence of this journal attest to the contemporary vitality of Freud's legacy.

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