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The Discovery of the Unconscious: The History and Evolution of Dynamic Psychiatry [Paperback]

Henri F. Ellenberger
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: £39.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Discovery of the Unconscious: History and Evolution of Dynamic Psychiatry Discovery of the Unconscious: History and Evolution of Dynamic Psychiatry 5.0 out of 5 stars (3)
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Book Description

25 Sep 1981
This classic work is a monumental, integrated view of man's search for an understanding of the inner reaches of the mind. In an account that is both exhaustive and exciting, the distinguished psychiatrist and author demonstrates the long chain of development--through the exorcists, magnetists, and hypnotists--that led to the fruition of dynamic psychiatry in the psychological systems of Janet, Freud, Adler, and Jung.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 976 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (25 Sep 1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465016731
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465016730
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.5 x 4.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 299,049 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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From the Back Cover

This classic work is a monumental, integrated view of man's search for an understanding of the inner reaches of the mind. In an account that is both exhaustive and exciting, the distinguished psychiatrist and author demonstrates the long chain of development – through the exorcists, magnetists, and hypnotists – that led to the fruition of dynamic psychiatry in the psychological systems of Janet, Freud, Adler, and Jung.

"A major contribution to the literature of dynamic psychiatry and one that will be a source book and reference volume for many years to come… The author's sensitivity to the spirit of different historical periods and his familiarity with the lesser as well as the major figures of each era – in the domains of arts and letters as well as science and medicine – is unceasingly impressive."

"In all respects a masterly work… a book whose richness, accuracy, and rigor are allied with an exceptional open-mindedness – containing such a wealth of material that it cannot possibly be summarised and analysed in the usual way."

"With admirable scholarship and brilliantly lucid style Dr.Ellenberger has integrated history, interpretation, opinion, judgement, assessment, and insight…"

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
ALTHOUGH THE SYSTEMATIC INVESTIGATION of the unconscious mind and of psychic dynamism is fairly new, the origins of dynamic psychotherapy can be traced back in time through a long line of ancestors and forerunners. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Ellenberger's classic historical intellectually stunning magnum opus is essential reading for anyone interested in the history of ideas, theory, politics, philosophy, therapy, psychiatry and hypnosis. It is comprehensive and breathtaking in it's depth and breadth, covering not only the stalwarts of psycho-analysis and it's derivatives, such as Freud, Jung and Adler in contextual, theoretical depth but the lesser known but recently popularised ideas and work of Pierre Janet. the influences of Mesmerism, spiritualism, hypnosis on modern psychology are intelligently surveyed.

Anyone or any training and education in psychotherapy, particularly those that espouse to the concept of an unconscious or subconscious mind or level of awareness would do well to read this text which give the gravitas and weight of history to both the ideas and practice of such approaches.

In my humble opinion an essential resource
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars analysis and the unconscious 26 Oct 2009
Format:Paperback
A must read for anyone interested in the unconscious and conscious mides, self analysis and/or thinking of going into therapy
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5.0 out of 5 stars Thank u 10 Jun 2013
By Mrs r
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Thank u for quick delivery. My son has enjoyed the book very much and learned quite a lot from it. He found it very interesting
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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
49 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astounding 7 May 2001
By Sheldon S. Kohn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Ellenberger's "The Discovery of the Unconscious" was a textbook for a graduate course I took in the philosophy of psychoanalysis. I remember admiring it while I read through it at the time and then setting it aside until the moment came to work my way through it again. The time having come, I worked through this massive book again, and it has aged quite well.
Ellenberger surveys the entire history of the movement we know of as "dynamic psychiatry." The strength of the text, however, is Ellenberger's engaging and thoughtful portraits of the movement's key players: Janet, Freud, Adler, and Jung.
I find myself drawn repeatedly to the portrait of Mesmer and his life and times. Mesmer remains one of the most fascinating figures in history to me, half a wizard and half an entertainer. In reviewing his life, it is almost impossible to separate fact from fiction. I know of no author who treats Mesmer as well as Ellenberger.
Ellenberger's outstanding essay on Jung serves as a primary source for those interested in the interplay of Jung's personality and his ideas. Ellenberger reportedly had a close relationship with Jung and was able to have him personally review some of the material that served as early drafts of this chapter.
The best part of Ellenberger's treatment of Jung is his reminder that Jung was a practical person and that Jungian therapy is often focused exclusively on the practical aspects of the patient's life and circumstances. All too often, there is a view of Jung as a mystic, allied with attempts to place his work in some New Age container. This inappropriate approach is contradicted by Jung's writing, teaching, and practice. In fact, only for some patients, mostly those in the second half of life who faced questions of meaning, would Jung begin with his synthetic-hermeneutic method. For patients dealing with commonplace neurotic symptoms, Jung often used an approach that Ellenberger describes as Adlerian: find out what life task the patient is trying to avoid and remove the obstacle.
Ellenberger's reminder of Jung's essential groundedness is useful, as many of us either forget or ignore this aspect of Jung's theory and therapy. Another thread I found interesting is Ellenberger's treatment of the reasons that Jung rejected experimental psychology, in spite of having spent years working with the association test.
Ellenberger does an excellent job of exploring how the personalities and preferences of each psychologist affected his work and theories. In Ellenberger's treatment of Adler, I found myself fascinated by how much we do not know of his life and of how many holes remain to be filled in. Perhaps because of my own predilections, I did not find the discussions of Janet and Freud all that interesting.
This is a massive book. At first glance it seems intimidating. However, anyone with an interest in the exporers of the land known as the unconscious will find it an engaging read.
35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best available historic overview of depth psychology 12 May 2000
By dr. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Psychiatrist and historian Henri Ellenberger's monumental reconstruction of how depth psychology developed and flourished in our century is essential reading for psychotherapists and other psychoanalytically inclined readers. "Depth psychology" is that specialized branch of psychotherapy that concerns itself with the phenomenology of the "unconscious." Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler is, as Ellenberger explains, "commonly credited with having coined the [German term] Tiefenpsychologie (depth psychology)." The author points out, for instance, how the predominance during the nineteenth century of the organic or somatogenic model in psychopathology (which scientifically sought to replace medieval demonology with a more rational mythology) took a direct hit with the publication in 1895 of Studies on Hysteria by Freud and the Viennese physician Josef Breuer. Assimilating the findings of Franz Anton Mesmer, French physicians A.A. Liebault, Hippolyte Bernheim, Jean Charcot, and Pierre Janet--as well as psychological precursors like Kant, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, C.G.Carus and Eduard von Hartmann--Freud and Breuer put forth a powerful argument for a psychogenic (or primarily psychological) model of mental illness, based on the hypothesized existence of the "unconscious." There are also substantial chapters covering the immense contributions of C.G. Jung and Alfred Adler among many others. In this day of "fast food" therapy, in which the unconscious is typically completely ignored, Ellenberger's classic study is a much-needed reminder of what the pioneering founders of psychotherapy discovered, and what we, their twenty-first- century offspring, cannot afford to forget.
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible Book 20 Jan 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I am a Jungian analyst in training in Zurich, Switzerland. I can't recommend this book highly enough. It is extraordinarily well-researched, organized and written. The book unfolds with a subtle drama as all the roots of contemporary psychotherapy are slowly revealed. Analysts are fond of the conceit, "Freud discovered this," or "Jung discovered that." This book beautifully discloses the truth that Freud and Jung actually "discovered" very little. Rather, they skillfully organized and packaged ideas about the unconscious that had been in the air for some time. This book takes nothing away from Freud and Jung's achievements; rather it puts them firmly within their historical context and shows the discovery of the unconscious as a gradual unfolding of awareness instead of a eureka discovery by a handful of men. Ellenberger deserves our great thanks for this lifetime, tour de force work of his.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Creative Illness 7 April 2010
By Steven Herrmann - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Steven B. Herrmann, PhD, MFT
Author of "Walt Whitman: Shamanism, Spiritual Democracy, and the World Soul"

This book is a masterpiece! When I first read it in 1998, I was so impressed with it I couldn't put it down. I have since used it in my teaching at the C. G. Jung Institute in San Francisco, in my clinical work and in my writing. In Ellenberger's view, Freud and Jung succeeded shamans in the discovery of the unconscious. (9). It was Ellenberger's "hypothesis that Freud's and Jung's systems originated mostly from their respective creative illness (of which their self-analysis was but one aspect)" (889). "Both of them," Ellenberger says, "underwent a creative illness in a spontaneous and original form, and both of them made it a model to be followed by their disciples under the name of training analysis" (890). Jungians, according to Ellenberger, were the first psychologists to consider the training analysis that Jung promoted and which Freudians accepted "as being a kind of initiatory malady comparable to that of the shaman" (890). Freud and Jung unleashed an explosion of psychic energy from the core of the shamanic archetype that would lead them through an "intense preoccupation with an idea" to "a permanent transformation" of their personalities and to "the conviction" that they "have discovered a great truth or a new spiritual world" (447, 448). Ellenberger tells us that throughout the period of creative illness, "the subject never looses the thread of his dominating preoccupation... he is almost entirely absorbed with himself. He suffers from feelings of utter isolation, even when he has a mentor who guides him through the ordeal (like the shaman apprentice with his master.)" (448). After he "emancipated himself from the influence" of Charcot, Ellenberger tells us that Freud began to identify "himself" primarily with the figure of "Goethe" (447). A remarkable transformation of consciousness took place in him that may have been attributable to the influence of the poet archetype. Freud was not only looking for a new system of psychological analysis, he was looking for a style of speech; a mythopoetic language through which the technique of psychoanalysis could be made available for all people. His vehicle for this was not to be found in identification with the founders of the first dynamic psychiatry alone, but in his identification with the poets who had preceded psychologists in the discovery of the unconscious. In order to write his great Traumdeutung in 1899, Freud was led to make an historic break with all of his early "masters" who were not also poets. As Freud pointed out, it was really "the great poets and writers who" had "preceded psychologists in the exploration of the human mind." Ellenberger says: "He [Freud] often quoted the Greek tragedians, Shakespeare, Goethe, Schiller, Heine, and many other writers. No doubt," Ellenberger continues, "Freud could have been one of the world's foremost writers, but instead of using his deep, intuitive knowledge of the human soul for the creation of literary works, he attempted to formulate it and systematize it." When the playwright Lenormand went to visit Freud at his office in Vienna, moreover, Freud is reported to have pointed to the works of Shakespeare and the Greek tragedians as his source, saying: "Here are my masters." "He maintained" Ellenberger concluded, "that the essential themes of his theories were based on the intuitions of the poets" (466, 467, 460). The "creative illness" culminates when a great artistic, religious, scientific, or philosophic truth is discovered and revealed for the benefit humanity (447).
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Monumental history of psychoanalysis 10 Feb 2001
By Bobby Newman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is the type of history that students rarely get to see. Textbooks tend to repeat the same old stories, many of which are only loosely based on the facts. This book goes into great depth, and even shows that many famous "cures" were nothing of the sort. This should be required reading for psychotherapists, and more importantly, for their clients.
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