Reading Freud: Relating to States of Psychic Conflict

Home/ Reading Freud: Relating to States of Psychic Conflict
Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSHS3038284

Semester and Year Offered: 2nd Semester, 1st year

Course Coordinator and Team: Honey Oberoi Vahali

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: Introductory knowledge of Psychoanalysis and of the works of Sigmund Freud


Course Outcomes:

  1. Enabling students to familiarise themselves with the method of clinical case study by reflecting on some of Freud’s most rigorously worked on clinical case studies and selected papers.
  2. Understanding technique and practice of psychoanalytic work through the writings of Sigmund Freud and selected post Freudian thinkers
  3. Honing in the sensibility to explore and examine roots of conflict in the psyche, as presented in hysteria, obsessive compulsive disorder, phobias and related states of disturbance.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

It is only too well known that Sigmund Freud’s advents into the human psyche laid the foundations of psychoanalysis as a conceptual and therapeutic tradition. His work made it possible for future psychotherapists to think of psychological disturbances and their aetiology, the technique of clinical work and the method of psychoanalytic and psychotherapeutic research-reflective observation and self-reflexive introspection. His clinical case studies provide a foundational edifice to the future clinician to understand states of psychic conflict and to also grapple with the processes involved in the working through of emotional trauma and conflict.

The course content will revolve around three- fold emphases

(1) Students will read selected papers from Freud’s corpus of “Papers on Techniques” written between 1904 and 1919. Of particular significance would be “Remembering, Repeating and Working Through” and “Observations on Transference Love”, “On Beginning the treatment”.

(2) Out of Freud’s well celebrated case histories, any three will be read in any intensive manner- “Fragment of an Analysis of a case of Hysteria” (1905), Analysis of a Phobia in a Five Year old Boy (1909), Notes upon a Case of Obsessional Neurosis (1909), Psychoanalytic Notes on an Autobiographical Account of a Case of Paranoia (1911), From the History of an Infantile Neurosis (1914). The case studies will serve as a model- a way of thinking about human life through the flow as well as the undulations of a narrative. They will also help to foreground the aetiology of neurotic illnesses. This will be the third angle of significance in the course.

By closely relating with the clinical material, students will delve into a nuanced reflection into the conflicts which lead to psychic distress and explore psychoanalytic metapsychology from the standpoint of the dynamic unconscious .

(4) Post Freudian reflections on Freud’s reading of clinical case material will help students learn to look at psychic concerns and processes of therapy from an enriched perspective – be it from the angle of the Ego, the Object or the Self. The thoughts of radical thinkers from psychoanalysis and also from related disciplines would be instructive to examine the above listed concerns.

Assessment Details with weights:

Written Assessment on critically appreciating Freud’s case studies- 40%

Ongoing Class participation-20%

Group Presentations on selected writings and themes in the work of Sigmund Freud- 40%

As this is a MPhil level course, the assignments may vary in accordance to the emphasis and requirement of any particular cohort

Reading List:

  1.  Freud, Sigmund (1896b) “Further Remarks on the Neuro-Psychoses of Defence”, G.W. 1:379-403; S.E. 3: 157-185
  2. Freud, Sigmund (1905e[1901]) “Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria (Dora)”, G.W. 5:163-286; S.E. 7:1-122.
  3. Freud, Sigmund (1907b) “Obsessive Actions and Religious Practices”, G.W. 7:129-139; S.E.9: 115-127.
  4. Freud, Sigmund (1909b) “Analysis of a Phobia in a Five-Year-Old Boy (‘Little Hans’)”. G.W. 7:243-377; S.E. 10:1-147.
  5. Freud, Sigmund (1909b) “Notes upon a Case of Obsessional Neurosis”, G.W. 7:381-463; S.E. 10:151-249.
  6. Freud, Sigmund (1911c) “Psycho-Analytic Notes on an Autobiographical Account of a Case of Paranoia (Dementia Paranoides)”. G.W.8:240-316; S.E. 12:1-79.
  7. Freud, Sigmund (1912b) “The Dynamics of Transference”, G.W.8:364-37, S.E. 12: 97-108.
  8. Freud, Sigmund (1912e) “Recommendations to Physicians Practicing Psycho-Analysis”, G.W. 8: 376-387; S.E. 12: 109-120.
  9. Freud, Sigmund (1913c) “On Beginning the Treatment”, G.W. 8: 454-478; S.E. 12: 121-144.
  10. Freud, Sigmund (1913i) “The Disposition to Obsessional Neurosis”, G.W. 8: 442-452; S.E. 12: 311-326.
  11. Freud, Sigmund (1914g) “Remembering Repeating and Working-Through”, G.W. 10: 126-136; S.E. 12: 145-156.
  12. Freud, Sigmund (1915a[1914]) “Observations and Transference-Love”, G.W. 10: 306-321; S.E. 12: 159-171.
  13. Freud, Sigmund (1918b[1914]) “From the History of an Infantile Neurosis (The “Wolf-Man”), G.W. 12: 29-157; S.E. 17: 1-122.
  14. Schreber, D. (1903) Memoirs of my Nervous Illness, trans and ed. R. Macalpine and I. A. Hunter, London: Dawson & Sons (1955); Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press (1988)
  15. Tous, J. M. (1996) “Hysteria one hundred years on”, Panel report, International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 77: 75-79


  1. Blacker, K. H. and Abraham, R. (1982) “The Rat Man Revisited: Comments on Maternal Influences”, International Journal of Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, 9:267-285.
  2. Breuer, J. and Freud, S. (1893) “On the Psychical Mechanism of Hysterical Phenomena: Preliminary Communication”, in Freud, S and Breuer, J. (1895d) Studies on Hysteria, The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, vol. 2, London: Hogarth Press and The Institute of Psycho-Analysis.
  3. Etchegoyen, R. H. (1991) The Fundamentals of Psychoanalytic Technique, London and New York: Karnac.
  4. Fairbairn, R. D. (1956) “Considerations Arising out of the Schreber Case”, British Journal of Medical Psychology, 19: 113-127.
  5. Grover, E. (1955) The Technique of Psycho-Analysis, New York: International Universities Press and London: Bailliere, Tindall& Cox.
  6. Racker, H. (1953) “A Contribution to the Problem of Counter-transference”, International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 34: 313-324.