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Rickman, J. (1957). XII. Sigmund Freud 1856-1939: An Appreciation (1941). The International Psycho-Analytical Library, 52(1):95-104.

(1957). The International Psycho-Analytical Library, 52(1):95-104

XII. Sigmund Freud 1856-1939: An Appreciation (1941) Book Information Previous Up Next

John Rickman, M.D.

Freud's death marks the close of an epoch, and his life's work was the foundation of a new one. He was the last of the great nineteenth-century scientists, he inherited their tradition and their methods, and on their foundation he built a new edifice.

Born in anno Darwinii, he gave a new dimension to biological thought; The Origin of Species showed man's physical relation to the brute creation; within fifty years Freud's corresponding work on The Interpretation of Dreams showed the way in which impulses of instinctual origin (in the mental sphere the part of us nearest to the animals) find representation in our imagination and are transformed into the bonds which unite us in our cultural life.

To every thinking man and woman now living the death of Freud was a personal event. The ideas which he formulated have become a part of our everyday thought, and though the number who read his works is comparatively small, the recognition that they touched the inner life of man gave him a position in our regard which we can accord only to the great leaders in history. However little was known of his personal life, mankind has recognized and respected a fellow-being who endured calumny and lived to receive honour. And all men admire the energy and creativeness of a pioneer. His death in exile, and after many years of great physical suffering patiently borne, brought him within the horizons of our own imagination and experience, for the kinship in pain and affliction is more easily felt by our common clay than the sweeping movement of spirit and creative imagination which carries us away from our accustomed thoughts to new visions of the universe and to rediscoveries of familiar things.

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