A Moment of Transition: Two Neuroscientific Articles by Sigmund Freud
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Translations of two neuroscientific articles by Freud are presented here for the first time in English. Alongside these, the editors offer convincing arguments for their importance to both psychoanalysis and neuroscience. These articles helped provide the catalyst for the modern activity in the field, and will prove fascinating to anyone interested in the origins of this bold new movement.
Between 1877 and 1900, Sigmund Freud published over one hundred neuroscientific works, only seven of which have previously appeared in English translation. Aphasie and Gehirn, the two articles presented in A Moment of Transition, were originally composed in 1888 as dictionary entries for the Handwortebuch der gesamten Medizin edited by Albert Villaret. They therefore date from a pivotal period of Freud's career when a growing interest in psychology had already begun to vie with strictly neurological endeavors; a shift of emphasis reflected in the novel and independent conceptual position adopted in both papers, prefiguring Freud's later work On Aphasia and certain aspects of the Project for a Scientific Psychology. Freud's professional development during this period is revealing. In 1885-86 he had studied under Jean-Martin Charcot in Paris. On his return to Vienna in 1886 he gave papers on hypnotism and hysteria, and made translations of Charcot's most recent lectures. In the following year he adopted Joseph Breuer's 'cathartic method' for the treatment of hysterical patients, and produced two reviews of hysteria and neurasthenia. In 1888-the year of Aphasie and Gehirn-two further papers on hysteria were published.
In the substantial commentary which accompanies the translations, Mark Solms and Michael Saling firstly establish Freud's authorship of the two articles, and then embark upon a critical examination of the literature so far devoted to them. They discuss the potential importance of Aphasie and Gehirn, and present detailed arguments to demonstrate their significance both of the history of psychoanalysis and for the history of neuroscience.
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