These, in sum, are the decisively innovative ﬁndings of Freud’s psychoanalytic investigations. Controversial from the outset, the critical repercussions of the models he used to theorize these insights can be felt to this day. This chapter shows why. Dating from 1938, these summative remarks by Freud appear
in ‘An Outline of Psycho-Analysis’, the unﬁnished manuscript where he brings together in concise and accessible form the fruits of his longstanding researches into the psychic life of the subject. Psychoanalysis, after all, had begun, more than half a century before, in the 1880s. Trained as a neuroscientist at the University of Vienna, Freud in his early work from that decade was devoted to medical issues such as motor paralyses. Included in these writings were studies of hypnotism and hysteria. The direction of his research changed dramatically during a period of study at La Salpêtrière clinic in Paris where he witnessed the distinguished physician Jean Martin Charcot (1825-93) employ hypnosis apparently to cure hysterical symptoms in women patients. Throughout the next ten years, much of his time was devoted to the study of hysteria, and he gradually dissented from Charcot’s innovative belief that hysteria could be understood as a neurological disease. Drawing an entirely different conclusion, Freud produced a substantial work with his senior colleague, Josef Breuer (1842-1925), comprising ﬁve case histories which revealed why hysterical symptoms had their sources in conﬂicted sexual feelings. Published in 1895, Studies in Hysteria set the stage for Freud’s deepening inquiries into the psychic realm he called the unconscious.