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Kris, E. (1954). New Contributions to the Study of Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams—A Critical Essay. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 2:180-191.

(1954). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 2:180-191

New Contributions to the Study of Freud's The Interpretation of DreamsA Critical Essay

Ernst Kris, Ph.D.

The preface to the first volume of Wilhelm Wundt's Völkerpsychologie is dated March, 1900. In it the author sets out to explain and justify the bold plan that had led him, the master of experimental psychology, late in life, in his sixty-eighth year to enter into a new venture. Psychology, Wundt felt, was ready for greater tasks and should no longer be confined to the rigorous limitations of a "psychophysical" approach. The study of man in a new and broader sense should not be left to anthropologists and historians; it was the psychologist's business. Wundt devoted the major part of the subsequent twenty years of his life to the twelve volumes of his work. Half a century after he started on his venture, the Völkerpsychologie is rarely quoted; it has never been translated into English. And yet no other man's work left an imprint on academic psychology in Great Britain and the United States comparable to that of Wilhelm Wundt, the experimentalist. However, as far as the Völkerpsychologie is concerned the intention more than its execution is memorable. No access to the study of man was possible from Wundt's point of departure. The Interpretation of Dreams offered this access. The aim of conceiving a new approach to psychology had been on Freud's mind during the long years he had prepared for his task. When Wundt wrote his preface, Freud's book had been for sale for four months, and it was already clear that the high hopes of its struggling author would be disappointed and that the book would arouse but little immediate attention.


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