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Fliess, R. (1935). Allgemeine Neurosenlehre Auf Psychoanalytischer Grundlage. Mit Einem Geleitwort Von Prof. Sigm. Freud: By Herman Nunberg. Bern-Berlin: Verlag Hans Huber, 1932. 339 p.. Psychoanal Q., 4:514-527.

(1935). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 4:514-527

Allgemeine Neurosenlehre Auf Psychoanalytischer Grundlage. Mit Einem Geleitwort Von Prof. Sigm. Freud: By Herman Nunberg. Bern-Berlin: Verlag Hans Huber, 1932. 339 p.

Review by:
Robert Fliess

The present work belongs in a certain sense among the classics of psychoanalytic literature. Freud's foreword—since published in Volume XII of the Gesammelte Schriften—is sufficient sponsorship for the author's name and for his work; and since in that foreword Dr. Nunberg's book is described as the "most complete and conscientious presentation of a psychoanalytic theory of neurotic mechanisms that we thus far possess", the reviewer has no choice but to take this pronouncement as a guiding point to be followed in any critical evaluation of the work. For the "thus far" in Freud's statement serves as a warning that at the present time it is only with respect to isolated portions of psychoanalytic theory that our knowledge is sufficient for the requirements of a systematic presentation, and that at the same time the author would be the last to seek to gloss over the "thus far" inevitable and necessitous lacunæ in his presentation. And indeed, it is one of the chiefest virtues of Dr. Nunberg's work that it studiously avoids all oversimplification.

Dr. Nunberg worked for many years in personal contact with Freud, and the reader will sense Freud's influence from the clarity and the penetration with which the problems treated are set forth, and from the way in which the author leaves problems unsolved wherever their solution is unattainable on the basis of clinical observation. Even the table of contents, in the nonhomogeneous character of its headings and the incoherence, so to speak, of its subheadings, is evidence of the insuperable difficulties that beset any attempt at systematization. One may quote the following by way of illustration:—Chapter 1: The Unconscious in the Neuroses; Chapter 2: The Topodynamic Conception of the Neuroses; Chapter 3: The Instinctual Life of the Neurotic; Chapter 4: Psychology of the Ego; Chapter 5: Aktual neuroses; Chapter 6: Anxiety; etc., etc. Or, from Chapter 3 (following the "oral", "anal-sadistic" and "phallic" phases): The Oedipus complex—The castration complex—Fantasies—The latency periodPuberty—Developmental disturbances of the sexual instinct—etc., etc.

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