Abstracts of the Standard Edition of
Carrie Lee Rothgeb, editor
the Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud
by Bernard D. Fine, MD
The publication during the past 18 years of the definitive English language edition of the psychological writings of Sigmund Freud has been a milestone achievement for psychoanalysis, for the behavioral sciences, and for the advancement of scientific thought and intellectual progress in general.
These 23 volumes of the Standard Edition (it is expected that a final 24th Index volume will be published shortly) with their careful and fluent translation and the thoughtful and extensive synthesizing editorial notes by the late James Strachey and his co-workers have become a unique educational and research source for the graduate psychoanalyst, for the advanced psychological practitioner and research worker, as well as for students and workers in the broad area of the behavioral sciences.
The present volume consisting of abstracts of each paper and editor’s notes comprising the complete Standard Edition is an outgrowth of the combined persistent interests and efforts of the Committee on Indexing of the American Psychoanalytic Association and the National Clearinghouse for Mental Health Information (NIMH).
The work of the Committee on Indexing in the preparation and quality control of these abstracts has been strongly supported and encouraged consistently by the presiding officers, the Executive Council, and the entire membership of the American Psychoanalytic Association.
It must be understood and appreciated that any attempt to abstract the uniquely literate, closely reasoned writings of Sigmund Freud with their clear, relevant (at times, vivid) clinical examples is an extremely difficult and challenging task. The revised translations of Freud’s works in the Standard Edition posed major problems (see Standard Edition, Volume 1, General Preface, pp. xviii- xx) in terms of accuracy and meaning; the difficulties in abstracting from these translations are equally monumental. The fact that the abstracting has been attempted at all is an achievement, and a tribute to those who accepted the challenge, especially the National Clearinghouse for Mental Health Information and the professional abstracting service with which it worked.
To the experienced and serious student of Freud’s writings and concepts, there will certainly be seen gaps and areas of incompleteness in some of the abstracts, partly due to the intrinsic difficulties mentioned above, and partly to the requirements and rigors of an important and complex computerization project seeking to index and abstract the current behavioral science literature (with the limitation of each abstract to a maximum of 350 words).
During the course of the abstracting project, various additions and revisions were suggested by the Committee on Indexing (aided by several advanced psychoanalytic candidates from the Division of Psychoanalytic Education, Downstate Medical Center, State University of New York, and of the New York Psychoanalytic Institute). As many as possible of these corrections have been incorporated into the final text.
Despite these limitations, the abstracts in their present form should be of inestimable value to those individuals who are interested in an initial understanding of the major concepts of psychoanalysis seen in a historical context as developed by Sigmund Freud. While they will be of considerable assistance in terms of general reference and survey to the graduate psychoanalyst, they will offer tremendous advantages and scope to all workers in the behavioral sciences. Here we may certainly include psychiatrists, psychiatric residents, psychologists and psychiatric social workers, as well as college, graduate, and medical students who are developing or continuing a further and deeper interest and understanding of classical psychoanalysis. Among other incidental yet important uses of these abstracts will be their contribution to the development and publication of an additional index to theStandard Edition.
The publication of these abstracts on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the National Mental Health Act seems an unusually felicitous and appropriate way of honoring Sigmund Freud, psychoanalysis, and the spirit of the legislative act that ushered in a national recognition of the significance of the solution of mental health problems affecting the people of the United States.
Bernard D. Fine, MD
Chairman, Committee on Indexing, American Psychoanalytic Association