After many years’ experience I now know that it is extremely difficult to discuss psychoanalysis at public meetings and at congresses. There are so many misconceptions of the matter, so many prejudices against certain psychoanalytic views, that it becomes an almost impossible task to reach mutual understanding in public discussion. I have always found a quiet conversation on the subject much more useful and fruitful than heated discussions coram publico. However, having been honoured by an invitation from the Committee of this Congress as a representative of the psychoanalytic movement, I will do my best to discuss some of the fundamental theoretical conceptions of psychoanalysis. I must limit myself to this part of the subject because I am quite unable to place before my audience all that psychoanalysis means and strives for, all its various applications, its psychology, its theoretical tendencies, its importance for the realm of the so-called “Geisteswissenschaften,” e.g. Mythology, Comparative Religion, Philosophy, &c. But if I am to discuss certain theoretical problems fundamental to psychoanalysis, I must presuppose my audience to be well acquainted with the development and main results of psychoanalytic researches. Unfortunately, it often happens that people believe themselves entitled to judge psychoanalysis who have not even read the literature. It is my firm conviction that no one is competent to form a judgment concerning the subject until he has studied the fundamental works on psychoanalysis.
In spite of the fact that Freud’s theory of neurosis has been worked out in great detail, it cannot be said to be, on the whole, very clear or easily accessible. This justifies my giving
- Paper given before the 17th International Medical Congress, London, 1913.