The Ideas of Freud

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Friday 11:15 to 12:30

First Class: 1/22/2021

Weeks: 4


Instructor: Arnold Wilson

Arnold Wilson, Ph.D. is a Training and Supervising analyst at the Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research (IPTAR) in New York City, a graduate of the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research, and an Instructor in Psychiatry at the Columbia University School of Medicine. He stepped down several years ago from his position as Professor of Psychology and Director of Clinical Training, Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program, Seton Hall University. His wife Linda and three children were quite grateful that he saw the value of taking this step. Prior to that, he spent many years at the Graduate Faculty, New School for Social Research, Clinical Psychology program, where the interdisciplinary climate fostered psychological innovation for many years. Educational years were logged at the University of Chicago, Temple University, and Yale University. He has authored many scholarly publications and taught at many other universities and training programs around the country. He has served on the editorial boards of Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, the International Journal of Psychoanalysis, and Psychoanalytic Psychology. His research has won several major awards, including the Samuel Beck Award from the University of Chicago, the Heinz Hartman II Award from the New York Psychoanalytic Institute, the Alexander Beller Award from the Columbia Psychoanalytic Center, and the Sigmund Freud Memorial Award from the New Jersey Psychoanalytic Society. Some of the many topics he has written of in his publications include beginning and terminating an analysis, Vygotskian psychology and its relationship to clinical processes, the roles of language and internalization, hierarchical concepts in psychoanalytic theories, and self-regulation and principles of presubjectivity. Currently Dr. Wilson is on reprieve from academic responsibilities and is a practicing psychoanalyst in Manhattan. A compendium of his work was just published (Paradigms and Processes: Selected Papers of Arnold Wilson, International Psychoanalytic Press, 2020).


This will be a four-week course on the life and work of Sigmund Freud. We will explore his views on the structure of the mind, psychoanalysis as therapy and science, the relationship of biology to psychology, and his ideas on such disparate fields as history, dreams, religion, sociology, and the formation of groups. The approach taken will be largely historical rather than thematic. One class will cover Freud from his early years as a neurologist through 1905, when he wrote his remarkable thesis on the theory of sexuality. Another class will focus on Freud's work through the papers on meta-psychology (circa 1917) through 1920, when he introduces the speculative concept of the death instinct. A third class will examine Freud's ideas from 1920 -1930, where he introduces the so-called structural model and confronts the theory of anxiety. The last class will focus on Freud through 1939 and his death in London on the brink of the second world war. The Freud we will meet will be quite different from the Freud of the popular imagination.