Psychology in Vienna 1900 - Details


next level

Although it appeared in fall of 1899, Sigmund Freud's ground-breaking book Die Traumdeutung (Interpretation of dreams) bears the impressum date 1900. This indicates Freud's own self-awareness of the revolutionary quality of this book, which was fated to become the founding document of his new "science," psychoanalysis. Freud was not the inventor of the "unconscious," but he was the first to valorize it as playing a fundamental role in human psychic existence. Above all, for Freud the unconscious was a form of super-memory, an absolute mnemonic storehouse that records all the empirical and mental experiences of the individual. These hidden, or, as Freud liked to say, "repressed" memories could be called up by simple events, experiences, dreams, or fantasies. Above all, Freud believed that the chronic repression of certain memories stored in the unconscious was responsible for psychological pathologies such as neurosis or psychosis, and that the elevation of these memories from the unconscious to the conscious mind could effect a cure of these psychic ills. Since Freud explicitly defined psychoanalysis as a science in the empirical and experimental sense, his greatest challenge was discovering an empirically based methodology that would give him access to the internal workings of the mind. His theory of the dream as a systematically distorted expression of the unconscious wishes of the individual brought the required breakthrough, systematically defining the necessary psychic "data" that could be subjected to analysis by the physician. Parallel to dream analysis, Freud employed his infamous "associative method" to encourage his patients to divulge unconscious thoughts and ideas, thereby providing further psychic data for analysis.