Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality

Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905) The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume VII (1901-1905): A Case of Hysteria, Three Essays on Sexuality Other Works', 'delay', '1000', 'maxWidth', '300', 'direction', 'southeast');">

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Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality Sigmund Freud (1905)

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Freud's Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality stand, there can be no doubt, beside his Interpretation of Dreams as his most momentous and original contributions to human knowledge. Nevertheless, in the form in which we usually read these essays, it is difficult to estimate the precise nature of their impact when they were first published. For they were submitted by their author, in the course of a succession of editions over a period of twenty years, to more modifications and additions than any other of his writings, with the exception of, perhaps, The Interpretation of Dreams itself.1 The present edition differs in an important respect from all previous editions, whether in German or English. Though it is based on the German sixth edition of 1925, the last published in Freud's lifetime, it indicates, with dates, every alteration of substance that has been introduced into the work since its first issue. Wherever material has been dropped or greatly modified in later editions, the cancelled passage or earlier version is given in a footnote. This will enable the reader to arrive at a clearer notion of what these essays were like in their original shape. It will probably come as a surprise to learn, for instance, that the entire sections on the sexual theories of children and on the pregenital organizations of the libido (both in the second essay) were only added in 1915, ten years after the book was first published. The same year, too, brought the addition of the section on the libido theory to the third essay. Less surprisingly, the advances of biochemistry made it necessary (in 1920) to rewrite the paragraph on the chemical basis of sexuality. Here, indeed, the surprise works the other way. For the original version of this paragraph, here printed in a footnote, shows Freud's remarkable foresight in this connection and how little modification was required in his views (p. 216). But in spite of the considerable additions made to the book after its first appearance, its essence was already there in 1905 and can, indeed, be traced back to still earlier dates. The whole history of Freud's concern with the subject can now, thanks to the publication of the Fliess correspondence (1950a),be followed in detail; but here it will be enough to indicate its outlines. Clinical observations of the importance of sexual factors in the ————————————— 1 Freud himself commented at some length on this circumstance, and the possible