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102 Origins of Psychoanalysis: Core Concepts (1896-1901) – 10 seminars

Seminar Leaders: C. Levitt PhD RP, Dr. M. Vallabhaneni, M.A. Fitzpatrick Hanly, PhD RP

Course Description

Origins of Psychoanalysis: from meaningless suffering to meaning and healing.

This course, in ten seminars, explores Freud’s discovery of the psychic unconscious and psychoanalysis as a theory of human nature and a clinical method for the treatment of psychopathology including:

a new psychological theory of the origins of hysterical and obsessional symptoms and their treatment with free association psychotherapy;

the seduction theory, deferred trauma, clinical inadequacies and modification;

the discovery of the influences of moral and aesthetic defences in repression;

the discovery of the causality of indigenous unconscious childhood phantasies in the predisposition to neurosis;

the psychology of dreams and their interpretation by means of free association;

the topographical model of the structure (conscious, pre-conscious and unconscious) and dynamics (needs and wishes seeking satisfaction) of mental processes at work in dreams and symptoms.

Course Objectives

Candidates will learn:

  1. (1.1) how to interpret important contextual and systemic factors that facilitate or impair human functioning: the Course explores the way in which the amelioration and resolution of the symptoms of anxiety and conversion hysteria are brought about by the recovery of repressed memories rendered psychopathogenic by the sexual and aggressive affects with which they are charged.
  2. (1.2) how to understand and implement a fundamental theory of change: how to facilitate the return to consciousness of repressed conflicted childhood desires and needs through the interpretation of dreams using the patient’s associations, thus increasing the range and flexibility of the patient’s emotions and psychic functioning.
  3. (1.3, 1.4) how to use the knowledge of key concepts in the theory psychoanalysis: manifest and latent content, condensation, displacement, censorship, day residues, unconscious, pre-conscious, primary process thought activity, regression, the structure and dynamics of symptoms, in order to formulate and to interpretation dreams, associations and symptoms.
  4. (1.3) the knowledge of important factors in the patient’s psychopathology: evidence, largely from the clinical study of conversion and anxiety hysteria, that hysterical symptoms are psychogenic and meaningful, typically involving somatization and symbolic enactment of affectively significant memories and phantasies requiring the hypothesis of unconscious psychic processes. The seminar explores the way in which the amelioration and resolution of the symptoms of anxiety and conversion hysteria are brought about by the recovery of repressed memories rendered psychopathogenic by the sexual and aggressive affects with which they are charged.
  5. (1.4) discovery of the free association technique that enables patients to resolve the psychic conflicts that cause their symptoms.

Seminar 1

Psychoanalytic Theory and Practice

This seminar provides an outline of the main stages of development of psychoanalytic theory and clinical method in the spirit of Freud’s criticism of his own theories.

Required Readings

Freud, S. (1937-1939). Two encyclopaedia articles. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol. 23, 97-107.

Freud, S. (1923-1925). A short account of psychoanalysis. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol. 19, 189-209.

Freud, S. (1923-1925). Resistances to psychoanalysis. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol. 19, 211-224.

Hanly, C. (2014). The interplay of deductive and inductive reasoning in psychoanalytic theorizing: four changes in theory. Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 83, 897–915.

Recommended Readings

Person, E. & Cooper, A. & Gabbard, G. (2005).  In Textbook of Psychoanalysis (pp. 3-116). Washington, DC; London: American Psychiatric Publishing.

Reference Works

These works clarify terms and articulate basic psychoanalytic concepts in theory and therapy.

Auchincloss, E. & Samberg, E. (2012). Psychoanalytic Terms and Concepts. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Benner, C. (1974). An Elementary Textbook of Psychoanalysis.  New York, NY: International Universities Press.

Laplanche, J. & Pontalis, J.B. (1980). The Language of Psychoanalysis. London: Hogarth Press.

Moore, B. & Fine, B. (1995). Psychoanalysis: The Major Concepts. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Quinodoz, J. (2004). Reading Freud. London: Brunner-Routledge.

Fenichel, O. (1945). The Psychoanalytic Theory of Neurosis. New York, NY: Norton.

Etchegoyan, R. H. (1991). The Fundamentals of Psychoanalysis. London: Karnac Books.


Part A

Studies in Hysteria: Basic Concepts in Psychoanalysis

Seminar 2

Seminar 2 explores the evidence, largely from the clinical study of conversion and anxiety hysteria, that hysterical symptoms are psychogenic and meaningful, typically involving somatization and symbolic enactment of affectively significant memories and requiring the hypothesis of unconscious psychic processes. The seminar explores the way in which the amelioration and resolution of the symptoms of anxiety and conversion hysteria is brought about by the recovery of repressed memories rendered psychopathogenic by the sexual and aggressive affects with which they are charged. These therapeutic ideas are also used in short-term psychoanalytic psychotherapy (see Abbass, A. (2008).

Required Readings

Freud, S. (1893-1895). Studies on hysteria. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol. 2, 135-181; 255-305.

Freud, S. (1893). On the theory of hysterical attacks. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol. 1, 151-154.

Freud, S. (1893). Some points for a comparative study of organic and hysterical motor paralyses. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol 1, 160-172.

Recommended Readings

Abbass, A. et al. (2008). Intensive short-term dynamic psychotherapy for DSM-IV personality disorders: a randomized control trial. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 196 (3), 211-216.

Quinodoz, J. (2004). Reading Freud (pp. 9-20). London: Routledge.

Seminar 3

Seminar 3 takes up Freud’s first aetiological theory of neurosis, the seduction theory, the postulate of object relational trauma, psychic defence and the cathartic therapeutic method. This is followed by his critique and modification of the seduction theory based on the negative clinical findings which, in turn, provided evidence of infantile sexuality and of unconscious phantasies in predispositions to neurosis in subsequent development. Concomitant developments in therapeutic technique will be explored from the beginning with the use of hypnosis to recall pathogenic memories and provide opportunities for therapeutic catharsis and the seminal idea of psychic defenses (repression as well as somatization) leading towards free association and interpretation.

Required Readings

Freud, S. (1893-1895). Studies on hysteria. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol. 2, 125-134; 169-173.

Freud, S. (1896). The aetiology of hysteria. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol 3, 189-221.

Freud, S. (1992-1899). Extracts from the Fleiss letters. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol. 1, 257-273.

Recommended Readings

Laplanche, J. (1980). “Defense” (pp. 103-107); “Free association” (pp. 169-170). In The Language of Psychoanalysis. London: Hogarth Press.

Auchincloss, E. and Samberg, E. (2012). “Seduction Hypothesis” (p. 231); “Free association” (pp. 89-90); “Defense” (pp. 50-52). In Psychoanalytic Terms and Concepts. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.


Part B

The Interpretation of Dreams: discovering the dynamics and topography of the unconscious through the technique of the interpretation of dreams. 

In Freud’s work interpretation is defined basically as the path traversed by the analyst’s understanding from manifest content to latent ideas. Interpretation is the instrument that makes the unconscious conscious. In The Interpretation of Dreams interpretation is equal and contrary to the dream work: dream work goes from the latent ideas to the manifest content; interpretation travels the same path from the manifest to the latent. These seminars will demonstrate the meaningfulness of dreams, what they reveal about unconscious mental processes and the interpretation of dreams as a therapeutic process.

Seminar 4

In The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud formulates core concepts in Psychoanalytic theory: understanding the meaning of dynamic in the “dynamic unconscious” and how discoveries of the fundamentals of psychic structures and dynamics (occurring in symptoms, and in the transference, as well as in dreams) indicate the core analytic technique of interpretation in accomplishing therapeutic action, that is in facilitating change in the patient.

Required Readings

Freud, S. (1900). The Interpretation of Dreams. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol. 4, 96-163.

Recommended Readings

Laplanche J. (1980). Dynamic (p. 126); “Interpretation” (pp. 227-229). In The Language of Psychoanalysis. London: Hogarth Press.

Quinodoz, J. (2004). Reading Freud (pp. 36-44). London: Routledge.

Seminar 5

Core concepts in The Interpretation of Dreams and associations to dreams: “distortion”, “manifest content”, “latent content”, “motivation” (latent sexual, aggressive, narcissistic desires, disguised); “censorship”. For Freud, interpretation is above all the act of giving sense to the material. To interpret a dream is to discover its meaning.

Required Readings

Freud, S. (1900). The interpretation of dreams. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol. 4, 163-217.

Recommended Readings

Laplanche J. (1980). “Manifest content” (p. 243); “Latent content” (pp. 235-236); “Censorship” (pp. 65-66); “Desire/wish” (pp. 481-483). In The Language of Psychoanalysis. London: Hogarth Press.

Auchincloss & Samberg. (2102). Psychoanalytic terms and concepts: “Wish” (pp. 284-285); “Dream” (pp. 62-65). In Psychoanalytic Terms and Concepts. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Seminar 6

Key concepts in the psychology of dreaming: disguises that result in the manifest disguised dream: condensation, displacement, symbol formation. These psychological processes are explored by the study of dreams of patients and their interpretation with examples of how to use concepts in the therapeutic setting. For Freud to interpret is to explain the meaning of an unconscious desire, to bring to life a particular drive, a particular wishful impulse.

Required Readings

Freud, S. (1900). The Interpretation of dreams. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol. 4, 277-309.

Recommended Readings

Laplanche, J. (1980). “Condensation” (pp. 82-83); “Displacement” (pp. 121-124); “Symbolism” (pp. 442-445). In The Language of Psychoanalysis. London: Hogarth Press.

Brenner, C. (1955). Two fundamental hypotheses. In An Elementary Textbook of Psychoanalysis (pp. 1-14). Madison, CT: International Universities Press.

Seminar 7

Key concepts in the psychology of dreaming continued: “Representability”, “Day’s Residues” and “Secondary Revision or Elaboration”. The application of these ideas to clinical work, in linking the interpretation of dreams to the formulation of the patient’s difficulties, the usefulness of the day residue,  and observing the efficacy or lack of efficacy in making interpretations of associations to dreams in the psychoanalytic process.

Required Readings

Freud, S. (1900). The Interpretation of Dreams. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol. 4, 310-350; 460-508.

Recommended Readings

Quinodoz, J. (2006). Reading Freud (pp. 36-44). London, UK: Rutledge.

Laplanche, J. (1980). “Representability” (pp. 389-390); “Day’s residues” (pp. 96-97); “Secondary revision or elaboration” (p. 412). In The Language of Psychoanalysis. London: Hogarth Press.

Seminar 8

The Topographical Model: Freud’s first model of the structure and dynamics of psychic processes. The seminar will explore the basic idea of psychic processes, the reflex arc, in which internal and external originating excitations proceed via memory files to the formation of wishful thoughts which discharge the excitations in motor activities giving a direction (intention) to mental activities. The following topics are explored in detail: the neuronal basis of the reflex arc in psychic life; the division of psychic processes into secondary conscious, reality bound processes, preconscious defensive processes and primary unconscious pleasure seeking, repressed, instinctual processes as required by the clinical investigation of the structure and dynamics of dreams and neurotic symptoms.

Required Readings

Freud, S. (1900). The Interpretation of Dreams. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol. 5, 509-572.

Recommended Readings

Laplanche, J. and Pontalis, J.B. (1980). “Primary process/secondary process” (pp. 339-341); “Pleasure principle” (pp. 322-325). In The Language of Psychoanalysis. London: Hogarth Press.

Seminar 9

The Topographical Model of psychological functioning continued: Three types of psychic regression: wish-fulfilment, the function of dreams and anxiety dreams.

Required Readings

Freud, S. (1900), The Interpretation of dreams. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol. 5, 572-627.

Recommended Readings

Laplanche, J. & Pontalis, J.B. (1980). “Regression” (pp. 386-388); “Wish-fulfillment” (pp. 483-484). In The Language of Psychoanalysis. London, UK: Hogarth Press

Auchincloss & Samberg. (2012). Regression. In Psychoanalytic Terms and Concepts (pp. 221-222). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Seminar 10

Memories, Phantasies, Dreams and Symptoms

Clinical investigation reveals that the psychic processes at work in dreams are the same as those that are at work in the creation and maintenance of neurotic symptoms. In both, repressed memories and phantasies play an important part. The seminar will test these ideas in a case of obsessional or hysterical neurosis. The case to be examined will be presented by the instructor.

Required Readings

Freud, S. (1908) Hysterical phantasies and their relationship to bisexuality. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol. 9, 159-166.

Freud, S. (1908). On the sexual theories of children. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol. 9, 209-226.

Freud, S. (1909) Family romances. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol. 9, 237-241.

Recommended Readings

Laplanche, J. & Pontalis, J.B. (1980). “Symptom formation” (p. 446); “Family romance” (pp. 160-161). In The Language of Psychoanalysis. London: Hogarth Press.

Hanly, C. (2009). On truth and clinical psychoanalysis. The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 90, 363-373.

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