The Second Schema: Rethinking Theory 1913-1922

A Biography

About Sigmund Freud

The Second Schema: Rethinking Theory 1913-1922

Rift with Carl Gustav Jung
Because of a disagreement with Wilhem Stekel, Freud asked his colleagues and friends to erase their names from the Zentralblatt für Psychoanalysis. It was replaced by the Internationale Zeitschrift für Psychoanalysis, edited by Ferenczi, Rank and Jones. In 1912 Carl Gustav Jung published The Transformations and Symbols of the Libido, in which the libido is described by the author as a general tension rather than a sexual energy, effectively depriving the Freudian notion of the Œdipus Complex of any substance. Jung’s publication and subsequent lectures in the United States opened up conflict and rupture in 1913 between Freud and the President of the movement, and Freud proposed that Jung and he should suspend their correspondence. Jung resigned from his duties as President, and left the International Association, soon to found his own movement. The chair being vacant, Karl Abraham was elected interim President.

1914: Freud publishes On the History of the Psycho-Analytic Movement: “For psychoanalysis is my creation; for ten years I was the only person who concerned himself with it, and all the dissatisfaction which the new phenomenon aroused in my contemporaries has been poured out in the form of criticisms on my head. Although it is a long time now since I was the only psycho-analyst, I consider myself justified in maintaining that even to-day no one can know better than I do what psycho-analysis is, how it differs from other ways of investigating the life of the mind, and precisely what should be described by some other name.”

The War Years
The First World War deeply affected the movement. Followers, students and friends were separated in countries that had suddenly become enemies. Some enlisted and never came back. Two of Freud’s own sons, Jean-Martin and Ernst, were mobilized. Freud, once seduced by the prevailing Austro-German nationalism, rapidly became sceptical about the motives and purposes of the war. It was also a period of a waning clientele and doubts made all the darker by the bad news from the front and the hardships at home. Moreover, Freud had reached his sixties, beyond the average life expectancy for the day, and this led him to incorporate his own mortality into his life’s work. In 1917, in the darkest days of the Great War, the will to pursue his work resurfaced with a vengeance. He expounded the revolutionary nature of his theory in regard to human narcissism by placing it on the continuum of the major historical developments of thought:

  • The cosmological humiliation of the Copernican revolution: humankind and the earth were no longer at the centre of the universe.
  • The biologic humiliation of the Darwinian revolution: humankind was no longer above the animal world; human beings were descended from apes and were just another animal.
  • The psychological humiliation of the Freudian revolution: the discovery of the unconscious meant that human consciousness is no longer the absolute mistress of its will, or its thought or actions.

1915: Disappearance of the Jarbüch der Psychoanalysis.
1915: Freud saves the periodic Internationale Zeitschrift für Psychoanalysis and Imago.
1915: Publishes Thoughts for the Times on War and Death

1917: Publishes Introduction to Psycho-Analysis
During the same period, Freud threw himself into writing the Metapsychology. This general theory of the human psyche described a way of observing of mental processes that can be broken down into three distinct approaches: the dynamic, the topical and the economic. Of the twelve manuscripts by Freud only Instincts and their Vicissitudes, Repression, The Unconscious and Mourning and Melancholia are extant.

1919: Back in peacetime it is a year of reunions between Freud and the members of the Committee. The economic crisis and spiralling then bewildering devaluation of the currency forces Sigmund Freud to search among the English and Americans for patients and physicians eager to start learning psychoanalysis. He founds the psychoanalytic publishing house Verlag, funded by Anton Von Freund and co-directed by Sándor Ferenczi and Otto Rank. Freud is named Professor at the University of Vienna. Coming as it does after so much opposition and aggression to both his theory and practice, the honour is merely tolerated by Freud, who accepts it mainly for financial reasons. The distinction is followed by progressive international recognition, which peaks around the 1930s.

1920: Death of Freud’s daughter, Sophie, in Hamburg following a sudden bout of influenzal pneumonia. Freud and his wife are deeply affected. Freud adds the name of his daughter, Anna Freud, to the members of the Committee.

1921: Development of the second schema (Ego, Id and Superego), which overlaps and completes the first schema (Unconscious, Preconscious and Conscious). The dynamic of the conflicts is interpreted here as the Ego’s defences against sexual or aggressive instincts. Freud writes to his friend, Sándor Ferenczi: “On 13 March this year I suddenly entered true old age. Since then the thought of death has not left me and sometimes I have the impression that seven of my internal organs are disputing the honour of putting an end to my life. […] In spite of it all, I have not succumbed to this hypochondria, but look on at it with detachment, rather as I did for the speculations of Beyond the Pleasure Principle.”

1922: Anna Freud and Lou Andreas-Salomé (Louise von Salomé), a Russian-born German woman of letters and psychoanalyst, both join the Viennese Psychoanalytic Society.

Find out more about Sigmund Freud’s Biography

The Age of Wisdom 1922-1939