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Niederland, W.G. (1964). Freud and Jones. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 12:223-241.

(1964). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 12:223-241

Freud and Jones

William G. Niederland, M.D.


The writing of biographies, one of the oldest literary practices, holds an impressive and, on the whole, honorable position in the history of intellectual pursuits. From K. R. Eissler's recent study on Leonardo da Vinci(5) and Thomas Mann's Leiden und Grösse der Meister(14) to Plutarch's Lives and to some extent still further back (to the ancient chronicles in the Book of Judges, the Book of Kings, and in poetic or legendary form perhaps all the way to the Gilgamesh epic) runs the long line of intellectual endeavors to re-create the essence of a human life in verbal shape and, if possible, aesthetic fashion.

Biography, under the influence of psychoanalytic insight, has long ceased to be a summation of factual or fancied accounts. In its reconstructive aspects it has been correctly likened to the analyst's effort to recover, unravel, and connect significant data aimed at the psychological reconstruction of a given personage in his relation to individual evolvement, origins, surroundings, achievements, and ultimate fate. In a sense every individual psychoanalysis is a biographical effort, though not limited to it, of course, in its reparative and therapeutic scope. The kinship between analytic interpretations in daily practice and biographical ones in modern literature has often been mentioned.

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