The Project for a Scientific Psychology: 23rd & 25th September & 5th October 1895: Sigmund Freud

by Julia Evans on October 5, 1895

The “Project for a Scientific Psychology” title provided by the editors upon the manuscript’s first publication in 1950s of part of Sigmund Freud’s correspondence with Wilhelm Fliess.

Index of this post:

Publication dates & availability

Index of The Project

Development timeline

References to Sigmund Freud’s ‘The Project’ by Jacques Lacan

Further commentaries

1.  Bertrand Vichyn’s notes

2.  Quote from: The Works of Jacques Lacan, an introduction: Bice Benvenuto & Roger Kennedy

3. Quotes from PROJECT FOR A SCIENTIFIC PSYCHOLOGY : Editorial Note : 1954 : James Strachey

4.   James Strachey comments on the Project in his editorial introduction to ‘Interpretation of Dreams’

5. Notes on the Foundations : October 1992 : Richard Klein : Information here

Publication dates

Freud, Sigmund. (1950c [1895]). Entwurf einer Psychologie. In Marie Bonaparte, Anna Freud, and Ernst Kris, (Eds.), (1950a). Aus den anfangen der psychoanalyse. briefe an Wilhelm Fliess, abhandlungen und notizen aus de jahren 1887-1902. London: Imago; GW, Nachtragsband, 387-477;

Corrected transcription in J. M. Masson and Michael Strutter, (Eds.), Briefe an Wilhelm Fliess, 1887-1904, Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 1986;

In English translation:

Marie Bonaparte, Anna Freud, and Ernst Kris, (Eds.), The origins of psycho-analysis: Letters to Wilhelm Fliess, drafts and notes, 1887-1902, (Eric Mosbacher and James Strachey, Trans.), London: Imago, 1954: p347-445;

A project for a scientific psychology. Standard Edition, Vol 1: p283-387 : Hogarth Press 1950

Availability:

The Project for a Scientific Psychology from September 23rd 1895: Part I: here

The Project for a Scientific Psychology September 25th 1895: Part II:  here

The Project for a Scientific Psychology October 5th 1895: Part III:  here

As published by Richard G. Klein, www.Freud2Lacan.com, available here

_______________

‘The Project’ is omitted from the following:

(1985c). The complete letters of Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess, 1887-1904. (Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, Ed. and Trans.). Cambridge, MA, and London: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press : 1985c

Index

CONTENTS

PART I

General Scheme

Editorial Note                                                                                                 p349

Introduction                                                                                                    p355

1.  First Principal Thesis: The Quantitative Line of Approach … … … … p356

2.  Second Principal Thesis: The Neurone Theory … … … … … … … … .. p358

3.  The Contact-Barriers … … … … … … … … … … … …  …  …  …  … … … ..p359

4.  The Biological Standpoint .. … … … … … … … …  …  …  … … … … … ….p363

5.  The Problem of Quantity … … … …  …  …  …  … … … … … … … … … … p366

6.  Pain … … … … … … …  …  … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … p368

7.  The Problem of Quality  … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … p369

8.  Consciousness … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … p372

9.  The Functioning of the Apparatus … … … … … … … … … … … … … …p374

10. The Ψ Paths of Conduction … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … p377

11. The Experience of Satisfaction … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … p379

12. The Experience of Pain … … … … … … … … … … … … … … …  … … …p381

13. Affects and Wishful States … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … …p383

14. Introduction to the Concept of an “Ego” … … … … … … … … … … … p384

15. The Primary and Secondary Processes in Ψ … … … … … … … … … ..p386

16. Cognitive and Reproductive Thought … … … … … … … … … … … … .p389

17. Remembering and Judging … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … …p392

18. Thought and Reality … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … ..p394

19. Primary Processes-Sleep and Dreams … … … … … … … … … … … … p397

20. The Analysis of Dreams … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … …p400

21. Dream Consciousness … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … …p403

PART II

Psychopathology

The Psychopathology of Hysteria

1. Hysterical Compulsion … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … ..p405

2. The Genesis of Hysterical Compulsion … … … … … … … … … …p407

3. Pathological Defence … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … p409

4. The Hysterical Πρϖτου Ψενδσς νστ [First Lie] … … … … … … … p410

5. The Determinants of the Πσϖτον Ψενδοζ νστ [First Hysterical Lie]  p413

6. The Disturbances of Thought by Affects … … … … … … … … … … … … …p414

PART III

An Attempt at an Account of Normal Ψ-Processes. … … … … … … …p417 

Development timeline

(Quotes are from the 1954 translation except where indicated)

Late March, 1895 : Freud’s “Project” was first conceived.

April 27th 1895: Letter from Freud to Fliess: [1954, Letter 23, p118 or 1985 p127] [Freud’s reference to taking cocaine is omitted from 1954 version and included in the 1985 as are his description of his heart condition and nasal problems.) On the scientific side I am in a bad way; I am so deep in the “Psychology for Neurologists” that it quite consumes me, until I have to break off out of sheer exhaustion. I have never been so intensely preoccupied by anything. And will anything come of it? I hope so, but the going is hard and slow.

May 25th, 1895: Letter from Freud to Fliess: [Published 1954, Letter 24 abbreviated, p119 or 1985c, in full, p 128] : Quoted from 1985: Your letter gave me much pleasure and caused me to regret anew what I feel is the great gap in my life – that I cannot reach you in any other way. First of all, I owe you an explanation of why I have not corresponded with your cherished Ida since our meeting. You did not quite guess it. You could have correctly assumed that I would have cried out if there had been something wrong with me. I have felt very well – partly Ia, partly I – and I have a few stupid thoughts on the connections, which I shall append for you (later in this letter). I have had an inhuman amount to do, and after ten-to-eleven-hour period of working with neuroses I have regularly been incapable of picking up my pen to write you a little, when in fact I would have had a great deal to say. The main reason, however, was this: a man like me cannot live without a hobbyhorse, without a consuming passion, without – in Schiller’s words – a tyrant. I have found one. In its service I know no limits. It is psychology, which has always been my distant, beckoning goal, and which now, since I have come upon the problem of neuroses, has drawn so much nearer. I am tormented by two aims: to examine what shape the theory of mental functioning takes if one introduces quantitative considerations, a sort of economics of nerve forces; and, second, to peel off from psychopathology a gain for normal psychology. Actually, a satisfactory general conception of neuropsychotic disturbances is impossible if one cannot link it with clear assumptions about normal mental processes. During the past weeks I have devoted every free minute to such work; have spent the hours of the night from eleven to two with such fantasizing, interpreting, and guessing, and invariably stopped only when somewhere I came up against an absurdity or when I actually and seriously overworked, so that I had no interest left in my daily medical activities. It will still be a long time before you can ask me about the results. My reading has also been following the same direction. A book by W. Jerusalem, ‘Die Urteilsfunktion’ [The function of judgment], has greatly advanced me; in it I discovered two of my principal ideas: that judging consists in a transference into the motoric sphere, and that internal perception cannot claim to be “evidence”.

I derive vast pleasure from working with neuroses in my practice. Almost everything is confirmed daily, new things are added, and the certainty that I have the core of the matter in my hand does me good. I have a whole series of the most peculiar things I could tell you, but it cannot be done in a letter, and in these rushed days my notes are too fragmentary to mean anything to you. I hope to bring enough with me to Berlin so that I can amuse you and hold your interest for the entire time I am your patient.

…..  JE:There follows Freud’s attempt at analysing his physical symptoms of dysfunction of his nose. Followed by quote: ‘… Accordingly, three different conditions of the nose tissue would have to be held responsible for three groups of symptoms: pressure, strain; pain, neuralgia, circulatory disturbances; headache; chronic nerve irritation (tissue shrinkage); distant effects. I merely want to place this alongside the localizing tendencies. Discussion of these assertions might possibly result in a classification.’

JE: In conversation with Bruno de Florence on Wednesday 19th August, 2012, we noted that Freud died of cancer in his jaw.  In the letter of June 12th 1895, Freud admits he has restarted smoking.  See below.

June 12th 1895: [Letter 25, 1954, p121 or 1985, p131] The construction of the “Psychology” also looks as if it is going to come off, which would give me great cause for rejoicing. Of course I cannot say for certain yet. Saying anything now would be like sending a six-months female embryo to a ball….  1985, p132: We shall not suffer from a dearth of topics to talk about “your battles”, it says in ‘Don Carlos’, “and your God”, {Footnote 3, p131, Friedrich Schiller ‘Don Carlos’, act 2, Scene 13} and so forth. Now to practical matters:  when should I come? You must, first of all, shorten my stay; second, let me off as far as anatomical health is concerned and endeavour only to reinstate functional health insofar as you can separate them. Third, I do not want to encroach on your own summer vacation. Perhaps I should come afterward, in September, write to me about it soon because there are other considerations. I am feeling I to IIa. I need a lot of cocaine. Also, I have started smoking again, moderately, in the last two to three weeks, since the nasal conviction has become evident to me.  {Footnote 4, p132, Freud means that he has become convinced of the nasal origin of his cardiac symptoms. } I have not observed any ensuing disadvatage. If you again prohibit it, I must give it up again. But do consider whether you can do this if it is only intolerance and not etiology.

I began it {Footnote 5, p132: Evidently it refers to smoking.} again because I constantly missed it (after fourteen months of abstinence) and because I must treat this psychic fellow {Footnote 6, p132: Freud uses the phrase psychischen Kerl. } well or he won’t work for me. I demand a great deal of him. The torment, most of the time, is superhuman. …

August 6th 1895: [Letter 26, 1954, p122 or 1985, p134 ] ‘Let me tell you that after prolonged thought I believe I have found my way to the understanding of pathological defense, and with it to the understanding of many important psychological processes. Clinically it all fitted in long ago, but the psychological theory I needed yielded only to laborious assaults. I hope it is not “dream-gold”.

It is not nearly ready yet, but I can at least talk about it and appeal on many points to your superior scientific equipment. It is bold but beautiful, as you will see. I am looking forward to telling you about it….

August 16th 1895: Letter 27, 1954, p122 or 1985, p135: I have had a remarkable experience with my ϕφω {Footnote 1 from bottom of 1954, p123: ϕφω (or W) is an abbreviation for the fundamental hypotheses of the “Psychology”. See “Project”, p347} Soon after I proclaimed my alarming news to you, raising your expectations and calling for your congratulations, I came up against new difficulties; I had surmounted the first foothills, but had no breath left for further toil. So, quickly composing myself, I threw the whole thing aside and persuaded myself that I took no interest in it at all. It makes me very uncomfortable to think that I have got to tell you about it. If I saw you every month, I should certainly avoid you In September. So let it be as you will, but now there is all the more reason to let you do the talking. But about my neurotic novelties I do not propose to be reticent.

…..

This psychology is really an incubus – skittles and mushroom-hunting are certainly much healthier pastimes. All I was trying to do was to explain defence, but I found myself explaining something from the very heart of nature. I found myself wrestling with the problems of quality, sleep, memory – in short, the whole of psychology. Now I want to hear no more of it.

September 1895: Freud began the writing while still on the train, returning from a visit to Fliess in Berlin, where the two discussed it.  – See “Project” 1954: p347

Quote from Part I: 1954: Copy available here : p355: Introduction: The intention of this project is to furnish us with a psychology which shall be a natural science: its aim, that is, is to represent psychical processes as quantitatively determined states of specifiable material particles and so to make them plain and void of contradictions. The project involves two principal ideas:-

1.  That what distinguishes activity from rest is to be regarded as a quantity (Q) subject to the general laws of motion.

2. That it is to be assumed that the material particles in question are the neurones.

N and Q’η [neurones and quantity] – Experiments of a similar kind are now common.

September 23rd 1895: [Letter 28, 1954, p123 or 1985, p139 ]: The only reason I write to you so little is that I am writing so much for you. In the train I started writing a short account of the ΦΨΩ {JE: The 1985 translation give ϕψω}  for you to criticize, and I am now continuing it in my free time and in the intervals between the acts of my gradually increasing practice. {Footnote 1: 1954: p124: See “Project”, p347. Freud had visited Fliess in Berlin} It already amounts to a sizeable tome, very rough, of course, but good enough, I hope, to be a groundwork for you to supply the trimmings, on which I set great hopes. My rested brain is now making child’s play of the accumulated difficulties, for instance, the contradiction in the fact that actions re-establish their resistance, {Footnote 2: 1954: p124: The subject of actions is discussed in the last two pages of the “Project” p 444} whereas the neurones in general are subject to facilitation. That now fits in very well, if the smallness of the individual endogenous stimuli is taken into account. Other points are also now falling into line, to my great satisfaction. How much of this progress will dissolve into thin air again on a better view remains to be seen. But you provided the great impulse to take the thing in earnest.

Apart from adapting the theory to the general laws of motion, for which I count on you, I have to test it against the individual facts of the new experimental psychology. The subject fascinates me as much as ever, to the disadvantage of all medical interests and of my children’s paralyses – which are supposed to be finished by the New Year!

A dream the night before last provided the most amusing confirmation that the motivation of dreams is wish-fulfilment. {Footnote 1: 1954: p125: A conclusion reached by Freud in July 1895. See “Project” p400 & Letter 137: 12th June 1900, p322 or 1985, p417. (Quote: Do you suppose that some day a marble tablet will be placed on the (Vienna) house, inscribed with these words: In this house on July 24th 1895, the Secret of Dreams was revealed to Dr Sigmund Freud. (Footnote 1: 1954: p322: In the “Dream of Irma’s Injection”, in ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’[Availability:  The Interpretation of Dreams: 1st November 1899 (published as 1900): Sigmund Freud  or here])(Further footnote 2, 1985, p418: Such a plaque was indeed placed there on May 6th, 1977.)}  At this moment I see little prospect of it. But when I read the latest psychological books (Mach’s ‘Analyse der Empfindungen’, second edition, Kroell’s ‘Aufbau der Seele’, etc) all of which have the same kind of aims as my work, and see what they have to say about dreams, I am as delighted as the dwarf in the fairy tale because “the princess doesn’t know”.)}

September 25th 1895: Freud finishes writing Parts I and II: Part II available here : Quote from Part II, Psychopathology: 1954, p405: 25 September 1895: The first part of this project included what could, as it were, be inferred a priori from its basic hypothesis, moulded and corrected I accordance with a few factual experiences. This second part seeks by an analysis of pathological processes to determine further features of the system founded on the basic hypothesis. A third part, based on the two earlier ones, will endeavour to construct the characteristics of the course of normal psychological events.

October 5th 1895: Freud begins Part III: Copy available here : Quote from 1954, p416: Part III, An attempt at an account of normal Ψ-processes, 5th October 1895, It must be possible to give a mechanical explanation of what I have termed “secondary processes” based on the effects produced by a group of neurones with a constant cathexis (the ego) upon other neurones with changing cathexes. I shall begin by attempting to give a psychological description of these processes.

October 8th 1895: Freud sent Fliess two notebooks, holding back a third dealing with repression. [Letter 29, 1954, p125 or 1985, p140 ]: I am enclosing all sorts of things for you to-day, including … and two notebooks of mine. …  Now for my two notebooks, I wrote them in one breath since my return, and they contain little that will be new to you. I have a third notebook, dealing with the psychopathology of repression, which I am not ready to send you yet, because it only takes the subject to a certain point. [Footnote 1, 1954, p126: This notebook has not survived.] From that point I had to start from scratch again, and I have been alternately proud and happy and abashed and miserable, until now, after an excess of mental torment, I just apathetically tell myself that it does not hang together yet and perhaps never will. What does not hang together yet is not the mechanism – I could be patient about that – but the explanation of repression, clinical knowledge of which has incidentally made great strides.

But the mechanical explanation is not coming off, and I am inclined to listen to the still, small voice which tells me that my explanation will not do.

Missing you and your company came on rather late this time, but I felt it acutely. I am alone with my mind, in which so much is stirring, and for the time being stirring itself into a muddle. I am finding out the most interesting things, which I cannot talk about and for lack of leisure cannot get down on paper (I send you a torso herewith). {Footnote 3, 1954, p126: This has not survived} I do not want to read, because it stirs up too many thoughts and stints me of the satisfaction of discovery. In short, I a a wretched recluse. Apart from that I am so exhausted that I must lay the whole thing aside for a while. …

November 2nd 1895 [Letter 34, 1954, p132] [1985, p149] with reference to Goethe’s ‘Faust, part 2’. Refers to the ‘validity of Freud’s psychological constructions’ from cases of hysteria.  1985: I’m glad I waited before mailing the letter. Today I am able to add that one of the cases gave me what I expected (sexual shock – that is, infantile abuse in male hysteria!) and that at the same time a working through of the disputed material strengthened my confidence in the validity of my psychological constructions. Now I am really enjoying a moment of satisfaction.

On the other hand, the time has not yet come to enjoy the supreme moment and then sink back. {Footnote 1, p150: A reference to Faust’s last words; see Goethe’s ‘Faust, part 2’.} A lot of work still remains to be done on the succeeding acts of the tragedy.

November 29th 1895 (Letter 36, 1954, p134 or 1985 p152):  Freud expresses scepticism about the validity of ‘The Project’.  ‘I am fully occupied with the children’s paralyses, in which I am not in the least interested. Since putting the psychology aside I have felt depressed and disillusioned – I feel I have no right to your congratulations.

Now I feel that something is missing.’

Or the 1985 version: I feel really amazingly well, as I have not since the beginning of the whole business. Moreover, I no longer have any pus, just a lot of mucous secretion. I have, by the way, never doubted the success of your minor surgical interventions, and thus have earned my well-being. I am in top working form, have nine to eleven hours of hard  work, six to eight analytic cases a day – the most beautiful things, of course; all sorts of new material.  I am entirely lost to science; when I sit down at my desk at 11p.m., I must paste and patch up the infantile paralyses. I hope to finish them in two months and then be able to further utilize the impressions gained in the course of treatments.

I no longer understand the state of mind in which I hatched the psychology; cannot conceive how I could have inflicted it on you. I believe you are still too polite; to me it appears to have been a kind of madness. The clinical solution of the two neuroses probably will stand up, after some modification.

January 1st 1896 [Letter 39 : Available Letter from Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess: 1st January 1896 : Known as Letter 39 : or here]: Letter to Fliess with “Draft K” [Available Draft K : The Neuroses of Defence (A Christmas Fairy Tale) : 1st January 1896 : Sigmund Freud or here] attached. Freud attempts to give a revised account of his hypotheses on the interrelations of the three kinds of neurones.  P141: Your letters, such as the last for instance, contain a wealth of scientific penetration and imagination about which all I can say, unfortunately, is that I am fascinated and overwhelmed. The thought that we should both be busy with the same work is the happiest that I could have just now. I see that you are using the circuitous route of medicine to attain your first ideal, the physiological understanding of man, while I secretly nurse the hope of arriving by the same route at my own original objective, philosophy. For that was my original ambition, before I knew what I was intended to do in the world. During the last few weeks I have tried repeatedly to summarize my latest finding about the defense neuroses for you, as some recompense for what you have sent me, but my thinking capacity was so exhausted last spring that now I cannot do anything. But I shall pull myself together and send you the fragment. {Footnote 2, 1954, p141: See the following Draft K (p146 of Draft K : The Neuroses of Defence (A Christmas Fairy Tale) : 1st January 1896 : Sigmund Freud or here) part of which is identical with the paper “Further Remarks on the Neuro-Psychoses of Defense” (1896 b)} A still, small voice has warned me again to postpone the description of hysteria – it contains too much uncertainty. You will probably be pleased with the obsessional neurosis. The few remarks on paranoia arise from a recently begun analysis which has already established beyond doubt that paranoia is really a defence neurosis. Whether this explanation has therapeutic value remains to be seen.  …  {Footnote 1, 1954, p143: These modifications of the views stated in the “Project” deserve attention as they are a reformulation of the difference between perceptual stimuli and internal stimuli; they prepare the way to the contrast between the conscious and unconscious (but not repressed) mental processes and thus point in the direction of the conception of the structure of the mind at which Freud arrived in later years. Their immediate development is to be seen in Chapter VII of ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’ [Availability: The Interpretation of Dreams: 1st November 1899 (published as 1900): Sigmund Freud  or here ]: the conception of hallucination hinted at here is repeated in it practically unaltered.}

Quoted from 1985, p159: Your remarks on migraine have led me to an idea, as a consequence of which all my φψω theories would need to be completely revised – something I cannot venture to do now.  I shall try to give you some idea of it, however.

I begin with the two kinds of nerve endings. The free ones receive only quantity and conduct it to ψ by summation; they have no power, however, to evoke sensation-that is, to affect ω. In this connection the neuronal motion retains its genuine and monotonous qualitative characteristics. These are the paths for all the quantity that fills ψ; also, of course, the paths for sexual energy. The nerve paths which start from end organs conduct not quantity but the qualitative characteristic peculiar to them; they add nothing to the amount in the ψ  neurones, but merely put these neurones into a state of excitation. The ω neurones are those ψ neurones which are capable of only very little quantitative cathexis. The coincidence between these minimal quantities and the quality faithfully transferred to them from the end organ is once more the necessary condition for thc generating of consciousness. I now [in my new scheme] insert these ω neurones between the φ neurones and the ψ neurones, so that φ transfers its quality to ω, and ω now transfers neither quality nor quantity to ψ but merely excites ψ – that is, indicates the pathways to be taken by the free ψ energy. (I don’t know whether you can understand this gibberish. There are, so to speak, three ways in which the neurones affect each other:

(1) they transfer quantity to one another,

(2) they transfer quality to one another,

(3) they have an exciting effect on one another in accordance with certain rules.)

According to this view the perceptual processes would eo ipso [from their very nature] involve consciousness and would only produce their further psych[ic] effects after becoming conscious. The ψ processes themselves would be unconscious and would only subsequently acquire a secondary, artificial consciousness through being linked with processes of discharge and perception (speech association). Any ω discharge, which my other account required, now becomes unnecessary; hallucination, the explanation of which always raised difficulties, is now no longer a backward movement of excitation to φ, but only to ω. It is much easier today to understand the rule of defense, which does not apply to perceptions but only to ψ processes. The fact that secondary consciousness lags behind makes it possible to give a simple description of the processes of neuroses. I am also relieved of the troublesome question of how much of the strength of φ excitation (of sensory stimuli) is transferred to ψ neurones. The answer is – none at all, directly. The Q in ψ depends only on how far the free ψ attention is directed by the ω neurones.

The new hypothesis also fits better with the fact that the objective sensory stimuli are so minimal that it is hard to derive the force of the will from that source in accordance with the principle of constancy. Sensation, however, [in the new theory] brings no Q at all to ψ; the source of ψ energy is the [endogenous] organic paths of conduction.

I also see the explanation of the release of unpleasure, which I need for repression in the sexual neuroses, in the conflict between the purely quantitative organic conduction and the processes excited in ψ by conscious sensation.

As regards your side of the question, the possibility arises that states of stimulation may occur in organs which produce no spontaneous sensation (though they must no doubt exhibit susceptibility to pressure), but which can by reflex action (that is, through the influence of equilibrium) instigate disturbances arising from other nerve centers. For the thought of there being a reciprocal binding of the neurones or of the nerve centers also suggests that the motor symptoms of discharge are of various kinds. Voluntary actions are probably determined by a transference of Q, since they discharge psychic tension. In addition to this there is a discharge of pleasure, spasms, and the like, which I explain, not by Q’s being transferred to the motor center but by its being liberated there because the binding Q in the sensory center coupled with it may have diminished. This would give us the long-sought-for distinction between “voluntary” and “spastic” movements, and at the same time a means of explaining a group of subsidiary somatic effects – in hysteria, for instance.

With respect to the purely quantitative processes of transference to ψ, there is a possibility of their attracting consciousness to themselves – if, that is to say, such conductions of Q fulfill the conditions necessary for producing pain. Of those conditions the essential one is probably the suspension of summation and a continuous afflux [of Q] to ψ for a time. Certain ω neurones then become hypercathected and produce a feeling of unpleasure, and they also cause attention to be fixed at that point. Thus “neuralgic change” would have to be regarded as an afflux of Q from some organ augmented beyond a certain limit till summation is suspended, the two ω neurones hypercathected, and free ψ energy bound. As you see, we have on the way arrived at migraine; the necessary precondition would be the existence of nasal regions in that state of stimulation which you recognized with your naked eye. The surplus of Q would be distributed along various subcortical paths before reaching ψ. Once this has happened, a continuous Q forces its way into ψ and, in accordance with the rule of attention, the free ψ energy flows to the seat of the eruption.

The question of the source of the states of stimulation in the nasal organs now arises. …

December 6th 1896 (Letter 52 [1954] or 1985, p207: Copy available here ):  Freud’s ideas had so far developed that he sketched out a diagram of the psychical apparatus with a sense similar to that contained in the seventh chapter of ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’. Quote from: Freud, S. (1896). Letter 52 from Extracts from the Fliess Papers. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume I ( 1886-1899): Pre-Psycho-Analytic Publications and Unpublished Drafts, 233-239 : …As you know, I am working on the assumption that our psychical mechanism has come into being by a process of stratification: the material present in the form of memory-traces being subjected from time to time to a re-arrangement in accordance with fresh circumstances-to a re-transcription. Thus what is essentially new about my theory is the thesis that memory is present not once but several times over, that it is laid down in various species of indications. I postulated a similar kind of re-arrangement some time ago (Aphasia) for the paths leading from the periphery [of the body to the cortex]. Quote continues from 1985: I do not know how many of these registrations there are – at least three, probably more. This is shown in the following schematic picture (JE: omitted from this transcription available here ) which assumes that the different registrations are also separated (not necessarily topographically) according to the neurones which are their vehicles. This assumption may not be necessary, but it is the simplest and is provisionally admissable.

W [Wahrnehmungen (perceptions)] are neurones in which perceptions originate, to which consciousness attaches, but which in themselves retain no trace of what has happened. For consciousness and memory are mutually exclusive.

Wz Wahrnehmungszeichen (indications of perception)] is the first registration of perceptions; it is quite incapable of consciousness and is arranged according to associations by simultaneity.

Ub [Unbewusstsein (unconsciousness)] is the second registration, arranged according to other, perhaps causal, relations. Ub traces would perhaps correspond to conceptual memories; equally inacessible to consciousness.

VB [Vorbewusstsein (preconsciousness)] is the third transcription, attached to word presentation and corresponding to our official ego. The cathexes proceeding from this Vb become conscious according to certain rules; and the=is secondary thought consciousness is subsequent in time and is probably liked to the hallucinatory activation of word presentations, so that the neurones of consciousness would once again be perceptual neurones and in themselves without memory. …

1900a: ‘Die Traumdetung’: The Interpretation of Dreams: Standard Edition vol 4-5 or Penguin Freud Library: Vol 4:  or available The Interpretation of Dreams: 1st November 1899 (published as 1900): Sigmund Freud  or here  : Quote 1954, p350: The immediate continuation of the “Project” among Freud’s published writings is to be found in ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’ (1900a). But the fresh formulation of the nature of the psychical apparatus which is attempted in the seventh chapter of that work falls short in one point at least of the hypotheses put forward in the “Project”: …

1915, published 1917d: ‘Metapsychologishe Ergänzung zur Traumlehre’: A Metapsychological Supplement to the Theory of Dreams:  Collected Papers vol 4 p137 or Standard Edition vol 14 or Penguin Freud Library, vol 11 ‘On Metapsychology’,p223 – 244 :

You will find Freud’s paper in English with the original German text laid out in the right hand column : published by www.Freud2Lacan : available here  : Reference found by Bruno de Florence

Quote 1954, p351: But the fresh formulation of the nature of the psychical apparatus which is attempted in 1900 falls short in one point at least of the hypotheses put forward in the “Project”: the position of the perceptual function could not be fully explained in the later work.  (Cf. Freud 1917d)

1915e: ‘Das Unbewusste’: The unconscious: Collected Papers vol 4 p98 or Standard Edition vol 14 or Penguin Freud Library, vol 11 ‘On Metapsychology’, p159 – 222:  Quote 1954, p351: Years later he alluded to the failure of his efforts in that direction in the following terms: “Research has afforded irrefutable proof that mental activity is bound up with the function of the brain as with that of no other organ. The discovery of the unequal importance of the different parts of the brain and their [1953, p350] individual relations to particular parts of the body and to intellectual activities takes us a step further – we do not know how big a step. But every attempt to deduce from these facts a localization of mental processes, every endeavour to think of ideas as stored up in nerve-cells and of excitations as travelling along nerve-fibres, has completely miscarried”. (Freud, 1915e)

1920:  (JE adds this comment on 14th September 2012): The Psychogenesis of a case of Homosexuality in a Woman: 1920: Sigmund Freud :Available here :  Further reference to the link between psychical and biology:

‘It is not for psychoanalysis to solve the problem of homosexuality. It must rest content with disclosing the psychical mechanisms that resulted in determining the object-choice, and with tracing back the paths from them to the instinctual dispositions. There its work ends, and it leaves the rest to biological research, which has recently brought to light, through Steinach’s¹ [i] experiments, such very important results concerning the influence exerted by the first set of characteristics mentioned above upon the second and third. Psychoanalysis has a common basis with biology, in that it presupposes an original bisexuality in human beings (as in animals). But psychoanalysis cannot elucidate the intrinsic nature of what in conventional or in biological phraseology is termed ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’: it simply takes over the two concepts and makes them the foundation of its work. When we attempt to reduce them further, we find masculinity vanishing into activity and femininity into passivity [ii] , and that does not tell us enough. I have already tried to explain how far we may reasonably expect, or how far experience has already proved, that the work of elucidation which is part of the task of analysis furnishes us with the means of effecting a modification of inversion. When one compares the extent to which we can influence it with the remarkable transformations that Steinach has effected in some cases by his operations, it does not make a very imposing impression. But it would be premature, or a harmful exaggeration, if at this stage we were to indulge in hopes of a ‘therapy’ of inversion that could be generally applied. The cases of male homosexuality in which Steinach has been successful fulfilled the condition, which is not always present, of a very patent physical ‘hermaphroditism’. Any analogous treatment of female homosexuality is at present quite obscure. If it were to consist in removing what are probably hermaphroditic ovaries, and in grafting others, which are hoped to be of a single sex, there would be little prospect of its being applied in practice. A woman who has felt herself to be a man, and has loved in masculine fashion, will hardly let herself be forced into playing the part of a woman, when she must pay for this transformation, which is not in every way advantageous, by renouncing all hope of motherhood. [iii]



[i]  ¹ Cf. Lipschütz (1919). JE adds:  A. Lipschütz: Die Pubertätsdrüse und ihre Wirkungen: 1919 : Berne

[ii] Footnote 1 : PFL Vol 9: p400: [See also the discussion of these two concepts in Freud’s Three Essays, 1905d, PFL Vol 7, p141 – 142n]  JE adds: Sigmund Freud: Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality: London 1962; Standard Edition Vol 7 p130; Penguin Freud Library Vol 7 p31

[iii] Footnote 2 : PFL Vol 9: p400: [Cf. the discussion of homosexuality in ‘Three Essays’, PFL Vol 7, p46-60, where in an addition to the long footnote (p58 – 59) made in 1920 (i.e., after writing the present paper) Freud further discusses Steinach’s work. He took up the subject again in section C of his paper on jealousy, paranoia and homosexuality (1922b) ] JE adds: Sigmund Freud: Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality: London 1962; Standard Edition Vol 7 p130; Penguin Freud Library Vol 7 p31.  Sigmund Freud: Some neurotic mechanisms in jealousy, paranoia and homosexuality : 1922b : Standard Edition, Vol 18, p223 or Penguin Freud Library, Vol 10, p195

1923: ‘Das Ich und das Es’: ‘The ego and the id’: Standard Edition vol 19 or Penguin Freud Library, Vol 11 ‘On Metapsychology’, p339 – 408: Quote 1954, p350: … the position of the perceptual function could not be fully explained in the later work. (Cf. Freud 1917 d.) The solution of this problem was only made possible by Freud’s hypotheses on psychical structure, developed in ‘The Ego and the Id’ (1923 b) and subsequently. But this very development was foreshadowed in the “Project” by the elaborately sustained hypothesis of a permanently cathected “ego organization”, a hypothesis which was revived in Freud’s mind after an interval of thirty years.

References to Sigmund Freud’s ‘The Project’ by Jacques Lacan

I welcome page numbers of any further, more detailed references, please.

Seminar I: ‘The Project’ is quoted in the background reading index at the end: published as ‘The seminar of Jacques Lacan: Book I: Freud’s papers on technique’: 1953-1954’:  translated by John Forrester: Cambridge University Press, 1988:  First session is 18th November 1953: available Seminar I: Freud’s papers on technique: 1953-1954 : begins on 18th November 1953 : Jacques Lacan or here

Seminar II: ‘Book II The Ego in Freud’s Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis 1954-55’: translated by Sylvana Tomaselli Notes by John Forrester: Cambridege University Press, 1988: first session: 17th November 1954: available Seminar II: The Ego in Freud’s Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis: 1954-1955: begins 17th November 1954 : Jacques Lacan : Information here .   Read especially : Chapters VIII-X, probably p93-122.

Seminar VII: The Seminar of Jacques Lacan.  Book VII  The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, 1959-60: translated by Dennis Porter: Routledge, UK, 1992:  First session is 18th November 1959: available Seminar VII: The ethics of psychoanalysis: 1959-1960: begins 18th November 1959 : Jacques Lacan Information here.  Read especially: Chapters  II-V, probably  p19-70.

Further commentaries

1.  According to Bertrand Vichyn’s notes on ‘The Project’ (available at  www.enotes.com and available here

‘Even at this time Freud oscillated between feeling that the work we know as the “Project” was “delusional” and feeling that it was an excellent start on “the elucidation of the neuroses”; and if the “quantitative conception” would in fact never disappear from his work, it would always remain in the background.

The first part of the “Project” is devoted to the description of physical prototypes of repression. The model of the organism here seems to be the vesicle exposed to the very powerful energies of the “primal soup.” When flight is not available to the system, it resorts to its multiple protective survival mechanisms. Thus, Freud begins his discussion by introducing the “principle of inertia” and then proceeds to describe two systems of neurones, and soon to be joined by a third, concerned with perception. Presentation of the notion of “contact-barriers” gives him an opportunity to point up the distinction between perception and memory by which he would always subsequently abide (1925a).’  [Freud, Sigmund. (1925a). A note upon the “mystic writing-pad.” Standard Edition vol 19, p 225-232 or Penguin Freud Library, Vol 11 ‘On metapsychology’, p427 – 434.]

A more detailed analysis is given in Vichyn’s notes – web-link above.

2.  Quote from: The Works of Jacques Lacan, an introduction: Bice Benvenuto & Roger Kannedy: Free Association Books, London: 1986

Chapter Two: The Mirror Stage, 1936: p49: The preconscious is quite distinct from the unconscious. Preconscious content differ from those of the unconscious in that they are in principle accessible to consciousness, e.g., as memories that are available to consciousness but not actually yet conscious. The preconscious and the conscious are governed by the secondary process, which coincides with waking thought, judgement, reasoning and controlled action. In the primary process psychical energy flows freely, while in the secondary process energy is much more bound and flows in a more controlled way. Satisfaction is postponed, allowing for an assessment of extyernal circumstances. This corresponds to the –reality principle’, a concept discussed by Lacan with a new emphasis in his paper ‘Beyond the reality principle’ (1936), [Au delà du principe de réalité: 1936: Jacques Lacan: Evolution Psychiatrique: vol 3: p67-86 or Beyond the “Reality Principle”:Marienbad and Noirmoutier: August – October 1936: p58 – 74 of Jacques Lacan, Écrits, The first complete edition in English: translated by Bruce Fink: W. W. Norton & Co: 2002] which we will describe in the next chapter.

The conscious is closely linked to the organs of perception. Consciousness is a function of the perception-conscious system, which receives information made up of sensations from internal and external sources. In ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’, Freud viewed the conscious as a ‘sense-organ for the perception of psychical qualities’ (SE5, p615) [Penguin Freud Library: Vol 4: p776  or available  The Interpretation of Dreams: 1st November 1899 (published as 1900): Sigmund Freud  or here ]. Although consciousness provides us with a sketchy picture of our mental processes, it is of great importance whether or not a psychical phenomenon can be recognized consciously. Painful or forbidden thoughts can be refused entry into the conscious by repression, but remain dynamically active in the unconscious, where they are seeking expression. They seek re-entry into the conscious, but can only gain access indirectly, e.g., symbolically in symptoms, in dreams, or in slips of the tongue and jokes, and they are then called ‘derivatives of the unconscious’.

The ego in the first topography has various roles. In Freud’s pre-analytic “Project for a Scientific Psychology’ (1895), its prime function is that of inhibition. Its neurological basis is that of an organization of nerve-cells with relatively stable boundaries, and it acts as a store of energy which enables it to send out nerve impulses which can control and attract discharges from other nerve-cells. It particularly acts to inhibit the primary processes we described above, and so to inhibit impulses which might evoke unpleasure. It helps the organism to take account of the external world, and is linked with the secondary processes.

In Freud’s early psychoanalytic papers, the ego is a defensive agency which fends off unacceptable ideas from consciousness. With the introduction of his first topography, however, the role of the ego becomes less clear. It still appears to function in mechanisms of defence, for example, in the ‘Rat Man’ case (1909) {Notes upon a case of Obsessional Neurosis (The ‘Rat Man’) 1909: p33-129 of Penguin Freud Library, Vol 9 Case Studies II, James Strachey translation}, it is the agency which opposes itself to unconscious wishes. Then with the introduction of the concept of narcissism, 1909-1914, based on observations on homosexual and psychotic patients, the ego is conceived in a new way. A unified ego is not present from birth but has to be developed. There are, though, auto-erotic drives which take place without any overall organization. The infant obtains satisfaction from his own body without the need of an external object, e.g., in thumb-sucking. For the ego to be formed, a ‘new psychical action’ (eine neue psychische Aktion) has to take place in order to bring about the stage of narcissism (SE14, p77) {or p69 of Sigmund Freud: On narcissism, an introduction (1914): Penguin Freud Library: vol 11, On Metapsychology: translation James Strachey} The stage of narcissism occurs between auto-eroticism and the relationship with an external human object, when the individual’s own body is taken as his love object.

‘There comes a time in the development of the individual at which he unifies his sexual drives (which have hitherto been engaged in auto-erotic activities) in order to obtain a love-object; and he begins by taking his own body as his love-object, and only subsequently proceeds from this to the choice of some person other than himself’ ( SE 12 p60-61) {p198 of Psychoanalytic Notes on an Autobiographical account of a case of Paranoia (Dementia Paranoides) (Schreber) (Published in 1911[Written in 1910]): Sigmund Freud: Penguin Freud Library: Vol 9 Case Histories II Available here or Case history of Schreber: 1910: Sigmund Freud }

Presumably, the ego in this scheme is formed at the stage of narcissism, between the stages of auto-eroticism and object love, while being itself taken as a love-object. But it is not clear in Freud what is this new psychical action that brings about ego formation, though we are told that the ego first picks out objects by identification and by incorporating objects into itself. Here one is dealing with fundamental dilemmas in analytic theory, and Lacan’s mirror stage offers a new formulation of the problem of ego formation.

The second topography clarified a number of Freud’s ideas. ….

Chapter Eight: Psychosis: p149: He was nicknamed the ‘Wolf Man’ {From the History of an Infantile Neurosis (The ‘Wolf Man’) 1914, published 1918: Sigmund Freud: p227 – 366 of Penguin Freud Library: Vol 9, Case Histories II} because of a striking dream which he recalled having at the age of four, and which marked the beginning of his neurosis. In it, he dreamt of several wolves staring at him, with their ears pricked up, paying attention to him. It was through the analysis of this dream, and reconstructed childhood events, that Freud introduced the idea of the primal scene, the scene of sexual intercourse between the parents that the child observes or infers. It was also in this case history that he described in detail the concept of ‘after-revision’ or ‘deferred action’ (Nachträglichkeit), which he had put forward in the ‘Project’ (1895), and which Lacan was later to develop. The primal scene is grasped and interpreted by the child some time later than his original observation of it, by after-revision at a time when he can put it into words.

3.  Quoted from 1954 edition edited by Marie Bonaparte, Anna Freud, and Ernst Kris: Translation by Eric Mosbacher and James Strachey

PROJECT FOR A SCIENTIFIC PSYCHOLOGY : Editorial Note : 1954 : James Strachey

[Footnote 1 p347:  [The title has been chosen by the translator. The title in the German edition ” Entwurf einer Psychologie ” was chosen by its editors.] Freud’s manuscript bears no title; in his letters he speaks of “the note-books” or “the psychology” [as well as of  “the psychology for neurologists” and “the ϕψ (1) “,], For the position occupied by the “Project” in Freud’s development, see the Introduction, p25ff. ]

Editorial Note

The following manuscript dates from the Autumn of 1895. The first and second parts (p. 355ff., p. 405 ff.) were begun by Freud in the train after a meeting with Fliess. (Letter of September 23, 1895; part of the manuscript [up to the end of section 2 of Part I] is written in pencil.) They were finished on September 25 (see the date at the beginning of Part II). The third part (p. 417 ff.) was begun on October 5, 1895 (see the date at the beginning of the manuscript).

All three parts were despatched to Fliess on October 8.

A fourth part, which was to deal with the psychology of repression, regarded by Freud as “the heart of the riddle”, was evidently never completed. As he worked at this problem, Freud’s doubts as to the fruitfulness of the line of approach attempted in the “Project” grew stronger. These doubts began to arise soon after he had concluded the work which he had begun with such feverish interest. He was already feeling sceptical on November 29, 1895 (Letter 36): “I no longer understand the state of mind in which I concocted the psychology”. In his letter of January 1, 1896 (Letter 39: Available Letter from Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess: 1st January 1896 : Known as Letter 39 or here), he attempts to give a revised account of his hypotheses on the interrelations of the three kinds of neurones, which, in particular, clears up the position of the “perceptual neurones”. More than a year after he had written the “Project”, his views had so far developed that he sketched out a diagram of the psychical apparatus with a sense similar to that contained in the seventh chapter of The Interpretation of Dreams (Letter 52, of December 6, 1896. Available: Letter from Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess: 6th December 1896 : Known as Letter 52 or here). From that time onwards, Freud lost interest in the question of representing the psychical apparatus in terms of neuro-physiology. Years later he alluded to the failure of his efforts in that direction in the following terms: “Research has afforded irrefutable proof that mental activity is bound up with the function of the brain as with that of no other organ. The discovery of the unequal importance of the different parts of the brain and their [p350] individual relations to particular parts of the body and to intellectual activities takes us a step further – we do not know how big a step. But every attempt to deduce from these facts a localization of mental processes, every endeavour to think of ideas as stored up in nerve-cells and of excitations as travelling along nerve-fibres, has completely miscarried”. (Freud, 1915 e.) Recent research into the physiology of the brain on the whole shares these views. (cf. E. D. Adrian’s brilliant paper on “The Mental and Physical Origins of Behaviour”, 1946.)

Under the cloak of brain physiology, however, the “project” reveals a wealth of concrete psychological hypotheses, of general theoretical assumptions and of various suggestive hints. Many of these thoughts, after the modifications necessitated by the abandonment of the abortive physiological attempt, were carried over into Freud’s later writings, and some of them are numbered among the permanent stock-in-trade of psycho-analytic hypotheses. Other portions of the “Project” (such, for instance, as the treatment of the psychology of intellectual processes in the third part, p. 439ff.) received no similar consideration in Freud’s published writings, though certain of the notions which he here develops could be fitted without difficulty into the system of psycho-analytic theories.

The immediate continuation of the “Project” among Freud’s published writings is to be found in ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’ (1900a) [Available: The Interpretation of Dreams: 1st November 1899 (published as 1900): Sigmund Freud  or here ] . But the fresh formulation of the nature of the psychical apparatus which is attempted in the seventh chapter of that work falls short in one point at least of the hypotheses put forward in the “Project”: the position of the perceptual function could not be fully explained in the later work. (Cf. Freud 1917 d.) The solution of this problem was only made possible by Freud’s hypotheses on psychical structure, developed in ‘The Ego and the Id’ (1923 b) and subsequently. But this very development was foreshadowed in the “Project” by the elaborately sustained hypothesis of a permanently cathected “ego organization”, a hypothesis which was revived in Freud’s mind after an interval of thirty years.

At the period in which Freud drew up his “Project” his interests were mainly focused on its connections with neuro-physiology. When his hypotheses on that subject broke down, he simultaneously dropped for the time being others of the topics dealt with. And this may have been true in particular of his hypotheses about the ego, which, in the “Project”, were attached to a specially designated group of neurones.

Immediately after Freud had written the “Project”, his interests were diverted to other problems. With his return to clinical work during the autumn, the theory of the neuroses moved into the foreground of his thoughts, and his principal discovery of the autumn of 1895 related to the distinction between the genetic factors in obsessional neurosis and hysteria (Letter 34, 1954, November 2nd 1895 or 1985, p149).

In order to make it easier for readers to follow the extremely condensed train of thought, we have drawn up a table of contents and, where a given topic is broken off, we have indicated in footnotes the point at which it is later resumed.

Footnote p351

[A few further elucidations have been inserted in the text by the English translator and some footnotes have also been added by him. These additions are enclosed in square brackets. It will be understood that all other footnotes are by the editor of the German edition. In the English translation the sections have been numbered for purposes of reference.]

4.   James Strachey comments on the Project in his editorial introduction to Interpretation of Dreams : 1899 (published 1900) : available here

5. Notes on the Foundations : October 1992 : Richard Klein : Information here

Linked posts:

Posts for the “Freud Sigmund” category : Available here

Sigmund Freud’s texts available electronically  or here

References to Sigmund Freud within LacanianWorks or here

One comment

Since the good functioning of the jaw is essential in producing phonemic differentiation, which is the basis of speech, it is “ironic” or symptomatic that the inventor of the “talking cure” could hardly speak towards the end of his life. There was also a period, according to Jones’s biography, during which Freud could not talk at all, his clinical practice being seriously curtailed as a result. We also noted that Freud’s jaw cancer is hardly commented upon by the Freudian/Lacanian psychoanalytical community.

by Bruno de Florence on 08/09/2012 at 10:36 am. Reply #