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Strachey, J. (1966). The Nature of Q, Appendix C to Project for a Scientific Psychology. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume I ( 1886-1899): Pre-Psycho-Analytic Publications and Unpublished Drafts, 392-397.

Strachey, J. (1966). [SEA392a1]The Nature of Q, Appendix C to Project for a Scientific Psychology. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume I ( 1886-1899): Pre-Psycho-Analytic Publications and Unpublished Drafts, 392-397

[SEA392a1]The Nature of Q, Appendix C to Project for a Scientific Psychology Book Information Previous Up Next

James Strachey

[SEA392a2]Of the two ‘principal ideas’ with which Freud introduces the Project (p. 295)-the neurone and Q-there is no mystery about the first. But the second calls for some examination, especially as everything suggests that it was the forerunner of a concept that was to play a fundamental part in psycho-analysis. We are not concerned here with the special puzzle, mentioned above in the Editor's Introduction, of the distinction between Q, and . What we are dealing with is (as Freud himself explicitly states at the end of his first paragraph)-a Q that has some special connection with the nervous system.

[SEA392a3]How, then, did Freud picture this Q, in the autumn of 1895?

[SEA392a4]Apart from the obvious fact that he wanted to present Q, as something material-‘subject to the general laws of motion’ (p. 295)-we notice at once that Q, appears in two distinguishable forms. The first of these is Q, in flow, passing through a neurone or from one neurone to another. This is described in various ways: for instance, ‘neuronal excitation in a state of flow’ (p. 296), ‘Q, in flow’ (p. 301), ‘current’ (p. 298), or ‘passage of excitation’ (p. 300). The second, more static, form is shown by ‘a cathected neurone filled with’ Q (p. 298).

[SEA392a5]The importance of this distinction between the two states of Q, only emerges by degrees in the Project, and one is almost tempted to imagine that Freud himself only became aware of it in the course of his writing the work.

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