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Blum, H.P. (1999). Freud at the Crossing of the Millennia. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 47(4):1027-1035.

(1999). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 47(4):1027-1035

Freud at the Crossing of the Millennia

Harold P. Blum

It is a great privilege to introduce this special issue of the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. Reflecting the vision of the editor, this issue appears as we enter a new millennium and a new century of psychoanalysis. It is a time of great ferment, as we ponder the future of psychoanalysis amid competing theories, external challenges, and new creative opportunities. This issue of the Journal offers fascinating perspectives on our discipline and the continuing evolution of psychoanalytic thought.

The twentieth century is the century of Freud and his pervasive influence upon thought and culture. The power of his ideas propelled him from his initial obscurity and feeling of splendid isolation to the center of intellectual discourse. He compared himself to the great thinkers, such as Copernicus and Darwin, who had “disturbed the sleep of the world.” And indeed, the continuing relevance of Freud's intellectual and psychoanalytic legacy has made it impossible for him to be overlooked or ignored. His harshest critics have engaged with him in a Hundred Years' War of words—and sometimes of ad hominem insults and invectives. Freud's contributions have relevance for many fields, including the biological and behavioral sciences as well as philosophy, history, biography, and virtually all of the humanities. Many originally arcane Freudian terms are now part of the common currency of conversation; Freudian slips, the oedipus complex, libido, repression, projection, denial, and sublimation are part of our vocabulary.

Freud forged a theory of the mind, an understanding of the development of personality, a theory of therapy, and a research tool for furthering knowledge of psychological development and disorder. Psychoanalysis emphasized the inner person, and the importance of unconscious processes, conflicts, and fantasies. Psychoanalytic insights changed the understanding of “human nature,” revealing the importance of childhood, of regressive and progressive processes, and of infantile features and fixations in adult life.

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