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Grossman, W.I. (1989). A Phylogenetic Fantasy: Overview of the Transference Neuroses: By Sigmund Freud, edited by Ilse Grubrich-Simitis; translated by Axel Hoffer and Peter T. Hoffer. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1987, xvii + 113 pp., $17.50.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 37:853-858.

(1989). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 37:853-858

A Phylogenetic Fantasy: Overview of the Transference Neuroses: By Sigmund Freud, edited by Ilse Grubrich-Simitis; translated by Axel Hoffer and Peter T. Hoffer. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1987, xvii + 113 pp., $17.50.

Review by:
William I. Grossman, M.D.

The discovery of the manuscript of one of Freud's lost metapsychological papers has understandably excited a great deal of scholarly interest. Although it has little to say to modern clinicians, the publication of the 1915 draft of the twelfth metapsychological essay, "Overview of the Transference Neuroses," provides a useful critical edition of an important transitional work in the development of Freud's thought. Like other works Freud excluded from his collected writings (On Aphasia, 1891) or discarded (the Project), this paper contains a systematic presentation of ideas that were not discussed so directly again. This is true, at least, for the latter part of the paper, which consists of the kind of "daringly playful fantasy" Freud considered a part of the mechanism of scientific creativity. It is in this section that he presents his "phylogenetic fantasy" that gives the American edition its name. As a whole, the paper marks a turning point in Freud's thought. Like the other metapsychological papers, it updates and summarizes his theories to that time. In addition, as part of Freud's large and largely unpublished correspondence with Ferenczi, this paper fits into the context of an intense personal relationship, in the same way that the Project(1895) belonged to the relationship with Fliess. For this reason, the "Overview" and the editor's informative essay will be indispensable for anyone interested in examining Freud's life and creativity. On the other hand, since most of the correspondence is unavailable, efforts to interpret the personal significance of this paper for Freud will, at best, be severely compromised, and at worst, merely daring fantasies.

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