The origin and development of psychoanaysis HTML version
Classics in the History of Psychology
An internet resource developed by
Christopher D. Green
York University, Toronto, Ontario
The Origin and Development of Psychoanalysis.
Sigmund Freud (1910)
First published in American Journal of Psychology, 21, 181-218.
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Ladies and Gentlemen: It is a new and somewhat embarrassing experience for me to appear as
lecturer before students of the New World. I assume that I owe this honor to the association of
my name with the theme of psychoanalysis, and consequently it is of psychoanalysis that I shall
aim to speak. I shall attempt to give you in very brief form an historical survey of the origin and
further development of this new method of research and cure.
Granted that it is a merit to have created psychoanalysis, it is not my merit. I was a student, busy
with the passing of my last examinations, when another physician of Vienna, Dr. Joseph Breuer,
 made the first application of, this method to the case of an hysterical girl (1880-82). We must
now examine the history of this case and its treatment, which can be found in detail in "Studien
über Hysterie," later published by Dr. Breuer and myself.
But first one word. I have noticed, with considerable satisfaction, that the majority of my hearers
do not belong to the medical profession. Now do not fear that a medical education is necessary to
follow what I shall have to say. We shall now accompany the doctors a little way, but soon we
shall take leave of them and follow Dr. Breuer on a way which is quite his own.
Dr. Breuer's patient was a girl of twenty-one, of a high degree of intelligence. She had developed
in the course of her two years' illness a series of physical and mental disturbances which well
deserved to be taken seriously. She had a severe paralysis of both right extremities, with
anasthesia [sic], and at times the same affection of the members of the left side of the body;
disturbance of eye-movements, and much impairment of vision; difficulty in maintaining the
position of the head, an intense Tussis nervosa, nausea when she attempted to take nourishment,
and at one time for several weeks a loss of the power to drink, in spite of tormenting thirst. Her
power of speech was also diminished, and this progressed so far that she could neither speak nor
understand her mother tongue; and, finally, she was subject to states of "absence," of confusion,
delirium, alteration of her whole personality. These states will later claim our attention.
When one hears of such a case, one does not need to be a physician to incline to the opinion that
we are concerned here with a serious injury, probably of the brain, for which there is little hope
of cure and which will probably lead to the early death of the patient. The doctors will tell us,
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