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Beyond the Unconscious

Beyond the Unconscious: Essays of Henri F. Ellenberger in the History of Psychiatry

Introduced and Edited by Mark S. Micale
Françoise Dubor
Mark S. Micale
Copyright Date: 1993
Pages: 428
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  • Book Info
    Beyond the Unconscious
    Book Description:

    Henri F. Ellenberger, the Swiss medical historian, is best remembered today as the author ofThe Discovery of the Unconscious(1970), a brilliant, encyclopedic study of psychiatric theory and therapy from primitive times to the mid-twentieth century. However, in addition to this well-known work, Ellenberger has written over thirty essays in the history of the mental sciences. This collection unites fourteen of Ellenberger's most interesting and methodologically innovative historical essays, many of which draw on new and rich bodies of primary materials. Several of the articles appear here in English translation for the first time.

    The essays deal with subjects such as the intellectual origins of psycho-analysis, the work of the French psychological school of Jean-Martin Charcot and Pierre Janet, the role of the "great patients" in the history of psychiatry, and the cultural history of psychiatry. The publication of these writings, which corresponds with the opening in Paris of the Institut Henri Ellenberger, truly establishes Ellenberger as the founding figure of the historiography of psychiatry. Accompanying the essays are an extensive interpretive introduction and a detailed bibliographical essay by the editor.

    Originally published in 1993.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6342-6
    Subjects: Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction: Henri F. Ellenberger and the Origins of European Psychiatric Historiography
    (pp. 3-86)

    Henri Frédéric Ellenberger was born on November 6, 1905, in southern Africa. Ellenberger issued from a large French-speaking Swiss family from the town of Yverdon in the Vaud canton near Lake Neuchâtel. Since the middle of the nineteenth century the family had worked as European Protestant missionaries at various locations in the south of Africa. Ellenberger’s grandfather, who arrived on the African continent in 1861, initiated the family tradition.¹ In addition to his missionary pursuits, D. Frédéric Ellenberger gathered volumes of information from native sources about the life and customs of the local indigenous peoples and prepared a full account...


    • 1 Fechner and Freud [1956]
      (pp. 89-103)

      The goal of the present article is to attempt to define the ways in which G. T. Fechner, the nineteenth-century mystical philosopher and founder of experimental psychology, influenced Sigmund Freud, the empirical scientist and founder of psychoanalysis. In the course of the inquiry, we shall examine how Fechner’s grandiose speculative ideas were utilized by Freud and integrated by him into the conceptual framework of psychoanalysis. In hisAutobiographical Studyof 1925, Freud in one place declared: “I was always open to the ideas of G. T. Fechner and have followed that thinker upon many important points.”¹ Freud probably was introduced...

    • 2 Moritz Benedikt (1835–1920): An Insufficiently Appreciated Pioneer of Psychoanalysis [1973]
      (pp. 104-118)

      There are at least two basic ways in which to conceptualize medical history, as well as the history of thought in general. One way is related to the theory of “great men.” From time to time, this theory goes, a powerful genius arises in culture and brings fundamentally original ideas. Such a genius makes great discoveries, revolutionizes science. A second conceptualization derives from the Romantic notion of “the genius of the people.” In this view, intellectual and cultural progress results from an accumulation of the ideas and discoveries of thousands of people over time. In the field of medicine, this...

    • 3 Freud’s Lecture on Masculine Hysteria (October 15, 1886): A Critical Study [1968]
      (pp. 119-136)

      This essay attempts to apply the standard critical-historical method of professional historiography to a particular episode in the history of psychoanalysis. I have chosen this particular event for examination in part because it is usually seen as the crucial starting point of a lifelong struggle between Sigmund Freud and the Viennese medical world in which he lived and in part because the episode proves relatively easy to study historically.¹

      The standard account of the event under inspection runs roughly as follows: after studying under Jean-Martin Charcot in Paris from October 1885 to February 1886, Freud returned to Vienna, highly enthusiastic...


    • 4 Charcot and the Salpêtrière School [1965]
      (pp. 139-154)

      The School of the Salpêtrière in the late nineteenth century was strongly organized and headed by a powerful figure, the great teacher Jean-Martin Charcot (1825–1893), a neurologist who late in his career came to the study of certain mental phenomena. During the years 1870 to 1893, Charcot was considered to be the greatest neurologist of his time. He was the consulting physician of kings and princes, and patients came to see him “from Samarkand and the West Indies.” But celebrity had come to Charcot only after long years of obscure and incessant toil, and few of those who marveled...

    • 5 Pierre Janet, Philosopher [1973]
      (pp. 155-175)

      Pierre Janet (1859–1947) offers a remarkable example of the discrepancy that often exists in the history of psychiatry and psychology between the actual importance of the work of a thinker and the significance that is granted to that figure based on his fame and success. In 1889, when Janet published his philosophy dissertation,L’automatisme psychologique,and when his first publications appeared on “subconscious fixed ideas” and the psychopathology of the neuroses, contemporaries had the impression that a star of the first magnitude had risen in the firmament of psychology. However, a stereotype formed soon after this, that Janet had...

    • 6 The Scope of Swiss Psychology [1957]
      (pp. 176-191)

      The sudden, rapid, and extensive development of psychological theory and practice in Switzerland represents a unique phenomenon of scientific evolution and cultural mutation. Within a few decades during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, psychology invaded the ideas and institutions of the fields of education, religion, industry, law, social customs, and medicine in Switzerland, resulting in an ever growing awareness of the implications of varied facets of human behavior. This deep penetration of psychology into life and culture has not only increased our knowledge of the human mind but also transformed human personality itself to a hitherto unknown extent....

    • 7 The Life and Work of Hermann Rorschach (1884–1922) [1954]
      (pp. 192-236)

      The biography of a man of genius is more than a contribution to the history of science or art and more than a narrative of success or failure in an individual’s vocation. For parallel to an individual’s personal struggle for subsistence runs his incessant fight for the achievement of his chosen work. If these two main efforts cannot be reconciled and coordinated, conflicts arise that often end in tragedy. In that respect, few destinies are more poignant than that of Hermann Rorschach, who died prematurely, nine months after the publication of his first book, thePsychodiagnostics,just at the time...


    • 8 Psychiatry and Its Unknown History [1961]
      (pp. 239-253)

      The history of science constitutes one of the most important aspects of the collective memory of humanity. Inside this large edifice, the history of psychiatry forms a rather modest part, which is not surprising considering that psychiatry itself, as a science, is of quite recent origin. If I bring to your notice here some thoughts about this limited chapter in the history of science, it is because for several years recently, I was in charge of teaching the history of psychiatry. Now, the more deeply I read the writings of earlier psychiatrists as well as the few biographical accounts that...

    • 9 The Story of “Anna O.”: A Critical Review with New Data [1972]
      (pp. 254-272)

      For some years now, psychiatric historiography has been at an important turning point. The belief is beginning to develop that in order to write the history of psychiatry satisfactorily, it is inadequate to be a practicing psychiatrist interested in the history of the profession. It will not do to have two historical methodologies, one for psychiatric history and another for all other forms of historical research. One expression of this change in orientation took place at a symposium held in April 1967 at Yale University devoted to methodological problems in the history of psychiatry.¹ Severe criticisms were lodged at this...

    • 10 The Story of “Emmy von N.”: A Critical Study with New Documents [1977]
      (pp. 273-290)

      Everyone who has read theStudies on Hysteria(1895) by Josef Breuer and Sigmund Freud knows that this work begins with the detailed story, reported by Breuer, of the illness and treatment of a young hysterical woman, “Anna O.,” whose real name was Bertha Pappenheim.¹ TheStudies on Hysteriathen continues, under Freud’s signature, with the clinical observations of four other hysterical women. The first of these patients is pseudonymously named “Emmy von N.” In the intellectual history of psychoanalysis, Emmy von N.’s story marks the beginning of a long evolution that would lead the young Freud from Breuer’s cathartic...

    • 11 C. G. Jung and the Story of Helene Preiswerk: A Critical Study with New Documents [1991]
      (pp. 291-306)

      The story of the young woman Helene Preiswerk reveals once again the role that certain patients have played in the history of dynamic psychiatry. The origin of Carl Gustav Jung’s theoretical teachings cannot be understood without reference to the experiments he made in his student years with a young medium, Helene (known as Helly) Preiswerk, as reported by him in his medical dissertation.¹

      Let us remind ourselves that any historical event can be approached from three different viewpoints: (1) The current version, based mostly upon family tradition and hearsay. Relatives, friends, and colleagues make incomplete, inaccurate, and sometimes fictitious statements....


    • 12 The Fallacies of Psychiatric Classification [1963]
      (pp. 309-327)

      The present essay is not designed to evaluate the respective merits of different schemes of classification of mental illness. Nor does it aim to propose a new system of classification. Rather, its goal is simply to bring to attention several historical points that seem thus far to have escaped the attention of the authors of psychiatric nosologies.

      In order to achieve its goals, any body of organized knowledge has to establish a system of methodological rules; but it must also set down the errors of methodology to avoid. When the ancient Greeks first formulated the fundamental rules of logic, they...

    • 13 The Concept of “Maladie Créatrice” [1964]
      (pp. 328-340)

      The concept of creative illness seems to have been anticipated by Novalis, the German Romantic poet and philosopher. In hisFragmente über Ethisches, Philosopbisches und Wissenschaflisches, Novalis observed, “Illnesses are certainly an important matter for humanity, since they are so numerous and because everyone has to struggle against them. But we know only very imperfectly the art of putting them to good use. These are probably the most important materials and stimulants for our thinking and activity.”¹ Elsewhere, Novalis declared that hypochondria in particular is a very remarkable illness: “There is a petty hypochondria and a sublime hypochondria. It is...

    • 14 The Pathogenic Secret and Its Therapeutics [1966]
      (pp. 341-360)

      The pathogenic effect of a heavily disturbing secret upon its bearer has been known from time immemorial as well as the healing action of confession under certain circumstances. In the following pages, I shall try to illustrate how from this very ancient notion a particular type of psychotherapy has evolved that eventually brought a noteworthy contribution to the origin of modern dynamic psychiatry.

      The physical and mental manifestations of a pathogenic secret upon a person can be very different from one individual to another. Cases are known in which it can result in death in a dramatic fashion with accompanying...


    • Appendix A The Discovery of the Unconscious: Table of Contents
      (pp. 363-366)
    • Appendix B Report on My Study Trip to Europe, Summer of 1963
      (pp. 367-374)
      Henri F. Ellenberger
    • Appendix C Henri F. Ellenberger: Complete Writings in the History of Psychiatry
      (pp. 375-378)
  10. Bibliographical Essay
    (pp. 379-414)

    Scholarly literature on the history of psychiatry has burgeoned dramatically over the past fifteen years. This scholarship deals with psychiatry in its past theoretical, therapeutic, and institutional aspects and in a broad range of cultural, geographical, and chronological settings. A comprehensive account of the new psychiatric historiography is obviously impossible, and unnecessary, in this context. Rather, the aim of this bibliographical narrative is threefold: to display the lines of influence of Henri Ellenberger’s work on subsequent professional commentary about psychiatric history; to indicate the current state of scholarly work on the subjects about which Ellenberger wrote the most; and to...

  11. Index
    (pp. 415-416)