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Eissler, K.R. (1963). Freud and the Psychoanalysis of History. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 11:675-703.

(1963). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 11:675-703

Freud and the Psychoanalysis of History

K. R. Eissler, M.D.

THE SUBJECT matter of my paper is a problem which, in terms of the present, might well be described as crucial. It is the question: is man capable of mastering his history? With this question, we enter the field of applied psychoanalysis. Before doing so, however, it may be appropriate to say a few words about the different evaluation that I myself make, and which most of you may share, of Freud's psychological writings as compared with those commonly grouped under the heading of applied psychoanalysis.

As is well known, Freud's psychological theories—his conception of the structure of the persona—have been attacked over and over again. There is also a large, although probably diminishing group of psychoanalysts who are convinced that his findings have by and large not been superseded by subsequent research, and who therefore treat them as the ultima ratio of psychological understanding. This attitude is somewhat unusual in the history of science, and should be explained before we proceed.

Let me start with a simile: Every reader of Paul de Kruif's Microbe Hunters(1) will remember the delightful story of Antonj van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723). For years he had supplied the Royal Society of England with reports on all the wonderful things that he could see, through the lenses which he had made, with a perfection unequaled in his time.

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