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Feldman, B. (1960). Sidelights on Freud's “Psychopathology of Everyday Life”. Am. Imago, 17(1):47-60.

(1960). American Imago, 17(1):47-60

Sidelights on Freud's “Psychopathology of Everyday Life”

Bronson Feldman

One of the most popular of Freud's books, The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (1904) has served more to illuminate the dynamics of common errors and accidents for clinical purposes than to establish the main bonds between abnormal and normal psychology, which was the writer's aim in producing this first guide, so to say, to oblivion. The book has also provided his biographers and critics with abundance of material concerning himself. As a fund of information about Freud's privacy it runs second only to The Interpretation of Dreams. The latter has naturally received far more attention for its revelation of unconscious currents and devices, since it charts in fact the chief path to the realm of fundamental mind. Everyday psychopathology however does more to make us feel at home on the frontiers of oblivion.

Unfortunately the book still circulates in the translation by A. A. Brill (1914), which is not only too often inadequate but even wrong. (For example, take the sentence on the foundations of mythology in Chapter VII: “It is universally admitted that in the origin of the traditions and folklore of a people care must be taken to eliminate from memory such a motive as would be painful to the national feeling.” What Freud meant of course is that the national feeling takes the care to eliminate from memory the painful theme. The footnote on Bernard Shaw's distortion of history in his comedy Caesar and Cleopatra—also in Chapter VII—leaves in Brill's English the impression that Freud approved what Shaw did.)

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