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Reading Freud II
February 2 @ 1:15 pm - 3:45 pm, Freud Classroom
Adult Psychoanalytic Training (APT)
2023-24, 2nd Trimester — Fridays, 1:45-3:15pm
Charlotte Malkmus, MA LMHC
This syllabus was created by Jan A. Seriff, PsyD. and Rita Teusch, PhD for a course taught at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, and is used with permission.
Welcome to Freud II. This 8 session seminar is intended to introduce you to selected aspects of the evolution and elaboration of Freud’s ideas during his middle phase (1910-1925). We will specifically consider Freud’s perspective on unconscious processes, his shift from a topographic to a structural theory of the mind, the centrality of object relations to these theoretical changes, and the changes in his thinking about the nature of fundamental drives.
It had become plain to Freud that his early efforts answered some questions but also uncovered further problems. At the same time he sought to expand the reach of psychoanalytic understanding in new and puzzling areas: (1) experiences of self-love and self-hatred and their implications for normal development, paranoia, and severe depression; 2) inner objects and identifications, (3) the clinical and theoretical importance of repetitive, self-destructive, self- punishing features of mental life and destructive repetitions.
Freud found himself obliged to modify his views of drives as well as his conception of mental systems and the properties of being conscious and unconscious. These considerations offered a greater elaboration of his theory of mental functioning, psychosexual development, anxiety and defense, the relation to reality, and the therapeutic action of psychoanalysis and finally led to the structural model of the mind (id/ego/superego).
In 1920, Freud published Beyond the Pleasure Principle, [Freud, S. (1920) Beyond the Pleasure Principle, (S.E. XVIII, Pages 7-64), one of his most seminal papers, in which he revised his ideas about the universality of the pleasure principle, in the context of trauma. He also put forward a new hypothesis in this paper, that the mind is governed not only by a conflict between pleasure/unpleasure, but also a fundamental conflict between the life instinct and the death instinct.
There’s not time to read all of Freud in our seminars. Although we won’t have time to study this text, we encourage you to read it, and we will refer to some of the central ideas put forth in this paper as we talk about our patients, especially those whose histories have been significantly affected by trauma.
Each of the major papers covered could easily comprise a full seminar on its own! It is our hope, by carefully reading these texts, we can understand together the major theoretical points and what motivated these.
Throughout the seminar we will connect the theories discussed with clinical material, particularly your own clinical experience. Please bring up for discussion what you find interesting, puzzling, useful, or evocative, personally and clinically. A useful book we can recommend is for its explication of Freud’s work is:
Quinodoz, Jean-Michel (2004) Reading Freud. Routledge, New York, NY. [Download chapter selections from the Reading folder, or request the book from firstname.lastname@example.org – one copy is available for a 2-week loan and can be mailed by request. You can also purchase your own copy on Amazon.com].
Supplemental Reading for the Seminar
February 2, 2024 — Part 1: The Unconscious
These first three sessions will focus on the unique insights developed by Freud about the unconscious sources or influences in mental life—an idea that is perhaps the most central precept of all psychoanalytic thought.
Main Topics: In several papers over the course of 20 years, Freud carefully lays out his reasons for asserting that unconscious processes are mental despite being outside conscious awareness, and that they make powerful contributions to conscious perceptions, thought and feelings. We will begin with one of Freud’s case histories, in order to set the stage for always reading Freud’s metapsychology in the context of his clinical practice and his efforts to understand his patients’ psychic reality.
Freud, S. (1895) Katharina Case History  (S.E. II, Pages 125-134)
Freud, S. (1911) Formulations on the Two Principles of Mental Functioning. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud 12:213-226.
Freud, S. (1912) A Note on the Unconscious in Psychoanalysis (S.E. XII, Pages 255-266).