The Discovery of the Unconscious
|The Discovery of the Unconscious: The History and Evolution of Dynamic Psychiatry|
The 1970 edition
|Author||Henri F. Ellenberger|
|Published||1970 (Basic Books)|
The Discovery of the Unconscious: The History and Evolution of Dynamic Psychiatry is a 1970 study of the history of dynamic psychiatry by the Swiss medical historian Henri F. Ellenberger. Its account of the early history of psychology covers the work of such figures as Franz Anton Mesmer, Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, and Pierre Janet. The work been credited with demolishing the myth of Freud's originality and encouraging subsequent scholars to question the scientific validity of psychoanalysis.
The Discovery of the Unconscious is a study of the history of dynamic psychiatry that covers the early history of psychology and the work of Freud, Jung, and Adler, describing psychoanalysis and analytical psychology as forms of hermeneutics (the art or science of interpretation). Ellenberger compares both disciplines to the philosophical schools of Graeco-Roman antiquity.
Ellenberger argues that a legend involving two main features developed around Freud: the first being, "the theme of the solitary hero struggling against a host of enemies, suffering the 'slings and arrows of outrageous fortune' but triumphing in the end", and the second, "the blotting out of the greatest part of the scientific and cultural context in which psychoanalysis developed". The first aspect rested on exaggeration of the anti-Semitism Freud encountered, as well as overstatement of the hostility of the academic world and the Victorian prejudices that hampered psychoanalysis. The second aspect led to Freud being credited with the achievements of other people.
Freud, according to Ellenberger, was heir to the Protestant Seelsorge or "Cure of Souls", a practice that arose after Protestant reformers abolished the ritual of confession. During the 19th century, the idea of unburdening oneself by confessing a shameful secret was gradually transferred from science to medicine, influencing Mesmer's animal magnetism, and eventually Freud.
The Discovery of the Unconscious has been credited by Frederick Crews with demolishing the myth of Freud's originality and encouraging subsequent scholars to question the scientific validity of psychoanalysis. Anthony Stevens has made use of Ellenberger's concept of "creative illness", a rare condition whose onset usually occurs after a long period of intense intellectual work, in his accounts of Freud and Jung.
- Complete online text: Questia
- Webster, Richard (2005). Why Freud Was Wrong: Sin, Science and Psychoanalysis. Oxford: The Orwell Press. p. 16. ISBN 0-9515922-5-4.
- Gay, Peter (1995). Freud: A Life for Our Time. London: Papermac. p. 754. ISBN 0-333-48638-2.
- Stevens, Anthony (1991). On Jung. London: Penguin Books. pp. 178, 267. ISBN 0-14-012494-2.
- Reed, Graham F. (2007). Gregory, Richard L., ed. The Oxford Companion to the Mind, Second edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 494. ISBN 0-19-866224-6.
- Crews, Frederick (1996) "The Verdict on Freud". Psychological Science, vol. 7, No. 2.