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Frampton, M.F. (1991). Considerations on the Role of Brentano's Concept of Intentionality in Freud's Repudiation of the Seduction Theory. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 18:27-36.

(1991). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 18:27-36

Considerations on the Role of Brentano's Concept of Intentionality in Freud's Repudiation of the Seduction Theory

Michael F. Frampton


The intentionality concept of Brentano played a key role for Freud in conceptualizing the epistemological and ontological status of mental acts and their contents as observed both clinically and through self-observation. Appearing for the first time in physiological garb in the 1895 Project, its psychological rehabilitation in 1897 permitted an alternative conceptualization to the original strong version of the seduction theory of 1896, in which, as Freud (1896cp. 204n. [1924]) says, 'I had not yet freed myself from my overvaluation of reality and my low valuation of phantasy'. He came to understand instead that 'in the world of neuroses it is psychical reality which is the decisive kind' (Freud, 1916–17p. 368). Moreover, it continued to have 'after-effects' in Freud's dream theories of 1900 ('The interpretation of dreams') and 1917 ('Metapsychological supplement'), and more generally, in his ratiocinations about the relationship of unconscious mental activity (internal reality) to the exigencies of life (external reality), as found in such works as 'Formulations' (1911), 'Negation' (1925b), 'Civilization and its discontents' (1930), and 'An outline of psycho-analysis' (1940).

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