Sigmund Freud, the Psychopathology of Everyday Life

SIGMUND FREUD: THE PSYCHOPATHOLOGY OF EVERYDAY LIFE MIEISHA MARSHALL DECEMBER 1, 2012 HISTORY AND SYSTEMS DR. WAYNE PONIWEZ UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS AT MONTICELLO SIGMUND FREUD: THE PSYCHOPATHOLOGY OF EVERYDAY LIFE Psychopathology of everyday life (1901) is one of the key studies of the outstanding Austrian scientist Sigmund Freud, who laid the basis for the theory of psychoanalysis, along with The Interpretation of Dreams (1900), Introduction to Psychoanalysis (1910) and Ego and the Id (1923).

This little book became one of the scientific classics of the 20th century and it is very important not only for psychopathology, but also for modern linguistics, semantics and philosophy. The most trivial slips of the tongue or pen, Freud believed, can reveal our secret ambitions, worries, and fantasies. The Psychopathology of Everyday Life ranks among his most enjoyable works.

Starting with the story of how he once forgot the name of an Italian painter-and how a young acquaintance mangled a quotation from Virgil through fears that his girlfriend might be pregnant-it brings together a treasure trove of muddled memories, inadvertent actions, and verbal tangles. Amusing, moving, and deeply revealing of the repressed, hypocritical Viennese society of his day, Freud’s dazzling interpretations provide the perfect introduction to psychoanalytic thinking in action.

According to Freud, our daily lives teem with unwitting expressions of the wishes and ideas we try to keep hidden. These suppressed notions elude our conscious control and take the form of slips of the tongue, jokes, and seemingly accidental gestures. In this classic of psychology, Freud explores the phenomenon of parapraxis – slips of the tongue commonly known as Freudian slips, acts of forgetfulness, misinterpretations, and ‘accidents’.

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These simple and apparently trivial events, he explains, can possess deeper meanings with subconscious motivations – meanings that can be revealed by analysis and can ultimately offer a clearer perception of the self. The Psychopathology of Everyday Life is the inventory of what goes on when nothing much is going on, or of what we do when we think we know what we are doing. I. Forgetting Proper Names Freud used his own self to do an observation on the inability to remembering proper names to psychological analysis.

The basis of Freud’s argument is that in psychological terms this displacement is not merely arbitrary, but follows regular and predictable paths, in other words, Freud assume that the substitute name or names will relate to the name sought in a way that can be traced, and he hope that if he can succeed in proving this relationship he shall also cast some light on the process which makes us forget names (Freud, p 6).

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