A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis

By Sigmund Freud | Go to book overview

TWENTY-FOURTH LECTURE

GENERAL THEORY OF THE NEUROSES

Ordinary Nervousness

N our last discussion we accomplish a difficult task Now I shall temporarily leave our subject and address myself to you.

For I know quite well that you are dissatisfied. You thought that an introduction to psychoanalysis would be quite a different matter. You expected to hear vivid illustrations instead of theories. You will tell me that when I gave you the illustration of "on the ground floor in the first story," you had grasped something of the causation of neurosis, only of course this should have been a real observation and not an imaginary story. Or, when in the beginning I described two symptoms (not imaginary also, let us hope) whose analysis revealed a close connection with the life of the patient, you first came to grasp the meaning of the symptoms and you hoped that I would proceed in the same way. Instead I have given you theories—lengthy, difficult to see in perspective and incomplete, to which something new was constantly being added. I worked with conceptions that I had not previously presented to you, abandoned descriptive for dynamic conceptions, and these in turn for economic ones. I made it hard for you to understand how many of the artificial terms I made use of still carry the same meaning and are used interchangeably only for the sake of euphony. Finally, I allowed broad conceptions to pass in review before you: the principles of pleasure and of fact and their phylogenetically inherited possession; and then, instead of introducing you to definite facts, I allowed them to become increasingly vague till they seemed to fade into dim distances.

Why did I not begin my introduction to the theory of neurosis with the facts that you yourselves know about nervousness, with something that has always aroused your interest, with the

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