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Pfister, O. (1993). The Illusion of a Future: A Friendly Disagreement with Prof. Sigmund Freud. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 74:557-558.

(1993). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 74:557-558

The Illusion of a Future: A Friendly Disagreement with Prof. Sigmund Freud

Oskar Pfister



Oskar Pfister (1873-1956) was a pastor in Zurich (Zulliger, 1966) when in 1928, while practising as an analyst, he published a respectful reply to Freud's The Future of an Illusion(Freud, 1927). According to one of the letters from Freud to Pfister that have so far appeared in print, Freud's The Future of an Illusion 'had a great deal to do with' Pfister. Freud also said that he 'had been wanting to write it for a long time, and postponed it out of regard for' Pfister (Freud, 1963p. 109). Assuming that it remains true in all questions of intellectual history that in order to understand a text we must appreciate the opponents that a thinker had in mind, then to appreciate the context of Freud's argument in The Future of an Illusion we have to know more about Pfister's own position, against which Freud said he was reacting.

Pfister's reply to Freud has until now not appeared in English. This has to be striking, since so much attention in recent years has been devoted to the problem of psychoanalysis and religion, and to the issue of the ways in which Freud might have been unduly biased against religions convictions (Erikson, 1969); (Fromm, 1950); (Meissner, 1984). Pfister's 'The Illusion of a Future' appeared in Freud's journal Imago, and is a sign of Freud's willingness to tolerate disagreement within his movement.

Freud did not always stick to his thesis as eventually expressed in The Future of an Illusion.

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