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Groves, W.B. Greif, G.F. (1987). Freud and Freedom. Psychoanal. Contemp. Thought, 10(1):69-101.

(1987). Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought, 10(1):69-101

Freud and Freedom

W. Byron Groves and Gary F. Greif


The purpose of this essay is to examine and critically assess Freud's views on determinism and freedom. In a recent discussion of psychoanalysis and determinism, Evans (1984, pp. 339-365) addressed this issue in a general philosophical context, discussing terms such as reasons, causes, and meaningful behaviors. Freud himself, however, preferred to confine general questions concerning human existence to the practical struggle for happiness or satisfaction, and it is within this context that we explore his views on human freedom. Simply stated, then, our purpose in this essay is (1) to see how large a slice of freedom Freud cares to offer us; (2) to critically assess the type of freedom envisioned by Freud; and (3) to ask whether we might be better off without freedom of this sort.

Our orientation to the issue of freedom is thus not directly or restrictedly clinical. By turning to the works of Freud himself as the primary focus for our discussion we find a broad context for freedom already established.

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