World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

The Psychopathology of Everyday Life

Article Id: WHEBN0018670938
Reproduction Date:

Title: The Psychopathology of Everyday Life  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Sigmund Freud, The Question of Lay Analysis, On Narcissism, The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Introduction to Psychoanalysis
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

The Psychopathology of Everyday Life

The Psychopathology of Everyday Life
The German edition
Author Sigmund Freud
Original title Zur Psychopathologie des Alltagslebens
Translator first version A. A. Brill;
Country Germany
Language German
Part of a series of articles on
Unoffical psychoanalysis symbol

Psychopathology of Everyday Life (German: Zur Psychopathologie des Alltagslebens) is a 1901 work by Sigmund Freud, based on his researches into slips and parapraxes from 1897 onwards,[1] - one which became perhaps the best-known of all his writings.[2]

Jacques Lacan considered it one of the three key texts for an understanding of the unconscious, alongside The Interpretation of Dreams (1900), and Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious (1905).[3] Sometimes called the Mistake Book (to go with the Dream Book and the Joke Book),[4] the work became one of the scientific classics of the 20th century.[5] Through its stress on what Freud called “switch words” and “verbal bridges”,[6] it is considered important not only for psychopathology but also for modern linguistics, semantics, and philosophy.

Editorial history

The Psychopathology was originally published in the Monograph for Psychiatry and Neurology in 1901,[7] before appearing in book form in 1904. It would receive twelve foreign translations during Freud's lifetime, as well as numerous new German editions,[8] with fresh material being added in almost every one. James Strachey objected that "Almost the whole of the basic explanations and theories were already present in the earliest edition...the wealth of new examples interrupts and and even confuses the mainstream of the underlying argument".[9] However in such a popular and theory-light text, the sheer wealth of examples helped make Freud's point for him in an accessible way.[10] A new English-language translation by Anthea Bell was published in 2003.

Among the most overtly autobiographical of Freud's works,[11] the Psychopathology was strongly linked by Freud to his relationship with Wilhelm Fliess.[12]


Studying the various deviations from the stereotypes of everyday behavior, strange defects and malfunctions, as well as seemingly random errors, the author concludes that they indicate the underlying pathology of the psyche, the symptoms of psychoneurosis.

This is how Freud introduces his book:

During the year 1898 I published a short essay on the Psychic Mechanism of Forgetfulness. I shall now repeat its contents and take it as a starting-point for further discussion. I have there undertaken a psychologic analysis of a common case of temporary forgetfulness of proper names, and from a pregnant example of my own observation I have reached the conclusion that this frequent and practically unimportant occurrence of a failure of a psychic function – of memory – admits an explanation which goes beyond the customary utilization of this phenomenon.

If an average psychologist should be asked to explain how it happens that we often fail to recall a name which we are sure we know, he would probably content himself with the answer that proper names are more apt to be forgotten than any other content of memory. He might give plausible reasons for this "forgetting preference" for proper names, but he would not assume any deep determinant for the process.

Freud believed that various deviations from the stereotypes of everyday conduct - seemingly unintended reservation, forgetting words, random movements and actions - are a manifestation of unconscious thoughts and impulses. Explaining "wrong actions" with the help of psychoanalysis, just as the interpretation of dreams, can be effectively used for diagnosis and therapy.

Considering the numerous cases of such deviations, he concludes that the boundary between the normal and abnormal human psyche is unstable and that we are all a bit neurotic. Such symptoms are able to disrupt eating, sexual relations, regular work, and communication with others.

This is the conclusion Freud makes at the end of the book:

The unconscious, at all events, knows no time limit. The most important as well as the most peculiar character of psychic fixation consists in the fact that all impressions are on the one hand retained in the same form as they were received, and also in the forms that they have assumed in their further development. This state of affairs cannot be elucidated by any comparison from any other sphere. By virtue of this theory every former state of the memory content may thus be restored, even though all original relations have long been replaced by newer ones.


  • Freud realised he was becoming a celebrity when he found his cabin-steward reading the Mistake Book on his 1909 visit to the States.[13]
  • The Rat Man came to Freud for analysis as a result of reading the Psychopathology.[14]

See also


  1. ^ Peter Gay, Freud (1989) p. 125-6
  2. ^ Ernest Jones, The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud (1964) p. 315
  3. ^ Jacques Lacan, Ecrits (1996) p. 170
  4. ^ Adam Phillips, On Flirtation (1994) p. 10
  5. ^ A. Kukla/J. Walmsley, Mind (2006) p. 186
  6. ^ Sigmund Freud, The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (1989) p. 70 and p. 349
  7. ^ Adam Phillips, On Flirtation (1994) p. 11
  8. ^ Peter Gay, Freud (1989) p. 465
  9. ^ Quoted in Adam Phillips, On Flirtation (1994) p. 10
  10. ^ Peter Gay, Reading Freud (1990) p. 76
  11. ^ Sigmund Freud, On Sexuality (PFL 7) p. 23
  12. ^ Peter Gay, Freud (1989) p. 126
  13. ^ Peter Gay, Freud (1989) p. 209
  14. ^ Sigmund Freud, Case Studies II (PFL 9) p. 40

Further reading

External links

  • Full text in
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.