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Reading Freud I

November 17, 2023 @ 1:45 pm - 3:15 pm, Freud Classroom

Fourth Year Adult Psychoanalytic Training (APT)
2023-24, 2nd Trimester — Fridays, 1:45-3:15pm
Christopher J. Keats, MD

View Whole Syllabus


This syllabus was created by Jack Beinashowitz, PhD and Rachel McBride, PsyD for a course taught at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, and is used with permission.

In this, the first of your seminars dedicated to the works of Sigmund Freud, we enjoy the opportunity to read the primary source material of psychoanalysis unmediated by subsequent interpretations and influence—although translation is an issue. As such, each reader can share in the spirit of discovery, the rhetoric of persuasion, the struggles with dissent and rebellion, and come to their own first impressions.

Ever present is the figure of Freud. From the outset he places his self-explorations in the foreground. He addresses us directly, in intimate dialogue that inevitably mirrors the very processes of unconscious desire, influence, and relation to authority that he is attempting to describe. Einstein famously suggested that Freud best deserved a Nobel for literature. His suggestion was taken as a dismissal of the scientific status of psychoanalysis but perhaps it might be better understood as a recognition of Freud’s power as an author to stir in his readers the subjects of his investigation. Perhaps this helps explain why psychoanalysts frequently describe the effect of returning to reading Freud as inspiring a renewed capacity to focus on evidence of unconscious processes.

Reading Freud is both an educational opportunity and an experience, at times an experience of transference to the founder of psychoanalysis. Many authors have observed episodes of idealization and denigration that mark their encounters and re-encounters with Freud over the course of their training and development as analysts. Our goal is to foster openness and playfulness with the material while noticing when we can the flow of our experience and perhaps the evidence of transference.

This seminar emphasizes readings from the first half of Freud’s career. It is a time in closest proximity to his self-analysis, explosive creativity, and the excitement of resistance to his ideas yielding to recognition. Each week, after one of the instructor slays out some initial highlights and context for the reading, we will ask one of you to begin the discussion with some thoughts and questions. The goal, of course, is to achieve a dynamic discussion of the ideas in an environment that encourages everyone to participate. We will know we succeeded if participants feel free to try on ideas without fear of judgment or worries about being pigeonholed into one perspective about psychoanalysis or another. Such worries have been observed at times to inhibit engaging with ideas in different settings throughout the institute. This first year seminar occurs early in the process of forming an identity as a psychoanalyst. As in all periods of identity formation experimentation is the rule. It is a time to let all the flowers bloom. It is a time to let the experience of the reading mingle with experiences in the consulting room and in your personal analyses. It is a time to let Freud’s creative explorations, observations and ideas inspire our own.

The SPSI library has a number of copies of each volume of Freud’s Standard Edition. Each of the papers assigned will be available on PEP. If you don’t own the Standard Edition, it would be great if you could check out the volumes we will be reading each week from the library so that we can easily read together from the same text.

We look forward to meeting all of you and reading Freud together.

Learning Objectives

At the end of this course, participants will be able to:

  1. tell how Freud’s thoughts about dreams and repression and conversion informed his early work with patients.
  2. describe what Freud meant by the aim of a drive (satisfaction), the objectof a drive (the self or the other), to give an example of the transformation of a drive (sublimation, turning the drive into its opposite, repression, turning around on the self).
  3. describe Freud’s understanding of the positive and negative transference based on the drive model (transfer of libidinal and affectionate or hostile feelings) and to describe Freud’s definition of counter-transference and its management in clinical work.

November 17, 2023 — The early papers (1894 – 1896)

[77 pages]

In these early papers we witness the birth of Freud’s psychoanalytic thinking—his discovery of the unconscious, intra-psychic conflict and defense and their role in psychopathology and symptom formation. We examine not only the details of Freud’s early theories but also the way he goes about observing clinical phenomena and how he devises methods to investigate the mind. We will see how the early theories formed the creative groundwork for the rest of Freud’s career.

Learning objective: Participants will be able to describe Freud’s early notion of hysteria, e.g. that the patient defends against intolerable ideas and/or experiences by repression and/or conversion of excitation.

Please read the readings prior to the first class. The Lucy R. case will be used so that we have a case in common to use in our discussion.

Freud, S. (1916). Lecture 1 introduction. The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud, volume XV (1915-1916): Introductory lectures on psycho-analysis (parts I and II) (pp. 15-24).

Freud, S. (1894). The neuro-psychoses of defence. The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud, volume III (1893-1899): Early psycho-analytic publications (pp. 45-61).

Freud, S. (1896). The aetiology of hysteria. The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud, volume III (1893-1899): Early psycho-analytic publications (pp. 191-221).

Freud, S. (1893). Case 3: Miss Lucy R., age 30. The standard edition of the complete psychological works ofSigmund Freud, volume II (1893-1895): Studies on hysteria (pp. 106-124).

Optional Reading

 Freud, S. (1896). Further remarks on the neuro-psychoses of defence. The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud, volume III (1893-1899): Early psycho-analytic publications (pp. 162-185).

Focus on pp. 163, 167, 169.


November 17, 2023
1:45 pm - 3:15 pm
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