The Golden Age of Psychoanalysis 1900-1913

A Biography

About Sigmund Freud

The Golden Age of Psychoanalysis 1900-1913

In 1900 Sigmund Freud was forty-four years old. He described the mental apparatus on the basis of a certain number of processes or systems, and the relationships between them. The publication of The Interpretation of Dreams progressively brought him fame. He was soon joined by colleagues whom he trained in psychoanalysis, and followers who explored and experimented in the furthest reaches of the human psyche, enabling Freud to speed up the development of his theories. Freud was not only a refined and cultivated writer in German, but used his talents to summarize and realign his own research with that of his group. Sigmund Freud successfully led a young movement bursting with energy and creativity for thirty years. Appointed Extraordinary Professor to the Faculty of Medicine, Freud organized his first weekly work group under the name Psychological Wednesday Society with four other colleagues, namely, Alfred Alder, Rudolf Reitler, Max Kahane and Wilhelm Stekel.

-1901 Publishes the opuscule On Dreams, a small-scale work that took up the themes of The Interpretation of Dreams and targeted a wider public. This is followed by Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria, more generally known as The Case of Dora. Freud subsequently publishes The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, a work about various incidents in life that suddenly manifest a repressed unconscious desire.

-1904 Publishes Freud’s Psycho-Analytic Procedure, a more technical work.

-1905 Freud extends his theory about dreams to Freudian slips, wordplays, parapraxes, or slips of the tongue, in Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious. In it he presents a first model of the development of thought. The same year he publishes Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality. These treatises underwent various reworkings and updatings due to confrontations between theoretical ideas and to the clinical observations of his work group and the various schools of thought it organized. Though the notion of child sexuality had been well and truly developed and disseminated by physicians for years, the revolutionary notion of a psychosexuality as the basis for mental life led first to a scandal, then a debate and to fame.

The group of colleagues, students and followers grew quickly: Paul Federn, Eduard Hitschmann, Sándor Ferenczi, Karl Abraham, Max Eitingon, Ernest Jones, Ludwig Jekels, Abraham A. Brill and others joined the group. By 1908 it had twenty-three members. As a coordinator and tireless writer, Freud constantly called his own theory into question in response to influences both internal and external, and to discoveries in the human sciences. Conscious of having created a new science or discipline, Freud wanted to swiftly set up an organization that would ensure the permanence of the work undertaken while deepening and generalizing the results obtained to other topical, anthropological, historical, religious, oneiric, artistic or cultural areas of knowledge. In 1910 he created the first International Psychoanalytical Association (IPA) in Nuremberg. The second convention was held in March of the same year with Carl Gustav Jung as chairperson. The conventions were numbered from 1908 on. As of 1912, faced with dissidence and infighting in the group, Freud created a hard core of five men particularly orthodox and loyal: Ernest Jones, Otto Rank, Hanns Sachs, Sándor Ferenczi and Karl Abraham, to whom he would later add his daughter, Anna Freud.
Technical publications and works:
-1910 The Future Prospects of Psycho-Analytic Therapy
-1910 “Wild” Psycho-Analysis
-1912 The Dynamics of Transference
-1912 Recommendations to Physicians Practising Psycho-Analysis
-1913 On Beginning the Treatment
-1914 Remembering, Repeating and Working-Through
-1915 Observations on Transference-Love

Clinical publications and works generally collected as Case Histories, a major classic:

-1909 Notes upon a Case of Obsessional Neurosis (The Rat Man)
-1909 Analysis of a Phobia in a Five-Year-Old Boy (Little Hans)
-1911 Psycho-Analytical Notes on an Autobiographical Account of a Case of Paranoia
-1911 President Schreber and From the History of an Infantile Neurosis (The Wolf Man)
– Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria (the Case of Dora, 1905) is usually added to the list

From being a straightforward innovative movement, psychoanalysis begins to spread across the world. In 1909 Freud is invited to Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, by the president, writer and professor of psychology Granville Stanley Hall where, accompanied by Carl Gustav Jung, Sándor Ferenczi and especially by his followers Ernest Jones and Abraham A. Brill, who lived in the United States, he gave a series of five lectures.

-1910 Five Lectures on Psychoanalysis
-1910 Leonardo da Vinci and a Memory of his Childhood
-1911 Formulations on the Two Principles of Mental Functioning
-1914 On Narcissism: An Introduction

Following the dispersion of his work group over the war years Freud set about a fresh attempt between 1914 and 1917 to conceptualize his theory as a whole: “metapsychology” summarized his theoretical conceptions in five texts:

  • 1915: Instincts and their Vicissitudes
  • 1915: Repression
  • 1915: The Unconscious
  • 1915: A Metapsychological Supplement to the Theory of Dreams.
  • 1917: Mourning and Melancholia
  • Plus one text of the same period recovered subsequently: 1983: Overview of the Transference Neuroses

After 1913 irreconcilable tensions over the theory of psychosexuality emerged in the group. Some, such as Carl Gustav Jung or Alfred Adler, separated and founded their own movements that are still going strong to this day. However, the theoretical advances of the war years asserted the libido as the essential motor of mental life for the survival of the individual, thus opening the door to a rethink, which led to what is usually referred to as the second schema in the early 1920s.

Publications by Sigmund Freud from the golden age of psychoanalysis:

  • 1901: On Dreams
  • 1901: Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria
  • 1901: The Psychopathology of Everyday Life
  • 1904: Freud’s Psycho-Analytic Method
  • 1905: Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality
  • 1905: Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious
  • 1907: Delusions and Dreams in Jensen’s Gradiva
  • 1909: Notes upon a Case of Obsessional Neurosis
  • 1909 (posthumous 1974): The Rat Man: A Case History
  • 1909: Analysis of a Phobia in a Five-Year-Old Boy
  • 1910: Five Lectures on Psychoanalysis
  • 1910: Leonardo da Vinci and a Memory of his Childhood
  • 1910: The Future Prospects of Psycho-Analytic Therapy
  • 1910: “Wild” Psycho-Analysis
  • 1911: Formulations on the Two Principles of Mental Functioning
  • /les-contemporains-de-sigmund-freud

  • 1911: Psycho-Analytical Notes on an Autobiographical Account of a Case of Paranoia
  • 1912: The Dynamics of Transference
  • 1912: Recommendations to Physicians Practising Psycho-Analysis
  • 1912: Appearance of the journal Imago devoted to the extra-medical applications of psychoanalysis, edited by Freud himself with Otto Rank and Hanns Sachs.

Find out more about Sigmund Freud’s Biography

The Second Schema: A Theoretical Rethink 1913-1922

The Age of Wisdom 1922-1939