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Nunberg, H. (1950). A Commentary on Freud's an Outline of Psychoanalysis. Psychoanal Q., 19:227-250.

(1950). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 19:227-250

A Commentary on Freud's an Outline of Psychoanalysis

Herman Nunberg, M.D.

When I undertook to review this book, I did not know how difficult a task it would be. A mere review can by no means do justice to this work; only a thorough commentary would be an adequate tribute to Freud's genius.

To get the full value of each single sentence, the reader should read this book over and over again. Then he will discover ever new thought-provoking formulations.

The Outline seems the last attempt of the Master to state the ideas of his lifework, an attempt, as it were, to convey to posterity the essence of his teachings. This, his last presentation, is not the only one in which he summarizes his doctrines. Such publications as The History of the Psychoanalytic Movement, the Autobiography, the New Lectures, etc., were the result of his vigilantly taking stock of his findings and constantly giving himself critical account of his doctrines. Revising them, he never hesitated to admit and correct errors. Yet, whenever he modified previous statements, he could always point out new problems, open new horizons. Analysis was never static in his hands; it was always alive and growing. Even in this final work he pointed out with admirable sincerity all the problems which analysis had been unable to solve.

The Outline is of all his summarizations the simplest, clearest and yet most comprehensive.

In none of his works did Freud ever try to force his ideas upon others. He expressed them and waited patiently. In the concluding sentence of his introductory words he says of this book: '… Its intention is naturally not to compel belief or to establish conviction'—just as, I should like to add, in analysis one should not try to force conviction upon the patient.

The author proceeds systematically. He tries at the beginning to examine the concept of 'psyche' or 'mental life'.

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