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Fordham, M. (1989). Some Historical Reflections. J. Anal. Psychol., 34(3):213-224.

(1989). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 34(3):213-224

Some Historical Reflections

Michael Fordham, M.D., Hon F.B.Ps.S.

I have always liked the subject of history, and have read more than once such volumes as The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. It is one of the books that I find enjoyable and informative about human beings and the powers with which they have to contend. Recently my attention was drawn to the origins of our own discipline, and in this paper I intend to focus specifically on the great innovators in our discipline, Freud, Jung and Melanie Klein, and show how they interact historically and reveal a coherence when approached through their clinical work. Another of my interests has been how our labours sometimes become defused in an undesirable way, so that we are, so to speak, giving our attention to the end branches of a tree without looking at its trunk, let alone its roots. This essay attempts to draw attention to both.

My method will involve looking first of all at Freud's observations and his analytic method. I had hoped to do this with no reference to his metapsychology, and so follow Jung closely when he says that he accepts the facts about infantile sexuality but not the theory. But I found it impossible to do this completely; for many of the facts are elicited because of a theory and, as I shall show, this is the case with relation to both Freud's theory of infantile sexuality and Jung's concept of archetypes. My efforts to keep the facts of experience in view all the time are also inspired by the tendency of theory (metapsychology) to become abstracted from the facts of experience. The subject is difficult, and I shall not go into it now. Nevertheless, the way Freud first developed his new science is worth looking at carefully because the method is unencumbered with the complications which arose later. Roughly, Freud was much more occupied with establishing facts first; serious metapsychology came later. That is so in spite of the ‘Project’.


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