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The Life, Work, and Legacy of Sigmund Freud (DATE TBD)

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Gene L.


This will be a talk and Q and A with Donovan Bigelow. Donovan is a practicing psychotherapist - - who previously ran a very well-received session on Nietzsche.

The location is TBD. If the location matters to you, you can vote on it at the link below.


There is no small amount of irony in modern Freud criticism, given that no one has criticized him more then he criticized himself. His works were updated, edited, changed sometimes radically, and he never stopped learning from his patients. On the day he died he was still making changes to his texts. You cannot understand what Freud said without understanding how he came to say it and how all of it evolved.

I will discuss a very brief introduction to Freud's life and death, the core elements of psychoanalysis as it evolved in his work, and the core principles of the ever evolving technique/method of psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic therapy. Throughout the material the focus will be on evaluating his continuing legacy.

It is my sincere wish that those attending come with questions that should be asked as the presentation moves forward. Don't wait for the end. Let's create an ongoing dialogue. Given the controversies surrounding Freud and his work, I expect that that will not be difficult.

Part I. Freud was a world-historical genius that transformed the very nature of what we today think it means to be human. We are all Freudians now whether we understand that or not – and regardless of whether we like that fact or not. And he died the death of a miserable coward. Both of these points are true, but require some thoughtful explication.

Part II. Freud railed at his critics as early as 1905. He correctly took them to task for criticizing without having done even a minimum of actual work to understand what he was talking about. Much modern criticism is similar. If you haven't read Freud's works carefully, if you have not actually done the work, you have no right to an opinion on the subject. This sounds harsh, but is it true?

I will walk you through a brief overview of the key concepts that make up the psychoanalytic sensibility and theory of mind. This will not give you the right to an opinion, but it may start a process within you leading to one.

Part III. But what does a psychoanalyst/psychotherapist actually do? What are the key elements of technique that anyone seeking help should expect. And what is a therapist not supposed to do. What are the boundaries of ethical and effective treatment?

Closing. Like Nietzsche, Freud's method was as important as the content of his meta-psychology. I hope that the material presented will help you to begin to understand both.
University Branch Seattle Public Library
5009 Roosevelt Way N.E. · Seattle, WA
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