The Discovery of the Unconscious

By Henri F. Ellenberger,

Book cover of The Discovery of the Unconscious: The History and Evolution of Dynamic Psychiatry

Book description

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…

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3 authors picked The Discovery of the Unconscious as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

The epic 900-page Discovery of the Unconscious is a phenomenally detailed and well-researched book that still challenges many of today’s psychological ‘truths.’ Ellenberger takes as his starting point models of the unconscious developed by Pierre Janet, Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler, and Carl Jung, which still influence many contemporary therapeutic treatments. He then skilfully links these models of the unconscious mind back to exorcism, magnetism, and hypnotism. Ellenberger’s detailed account of the use of magnetism and hypnosis by Jean Martin Charcot and others is fascinating because he explains exactly how Charcot's approaches premised new “uncovering” models devised by Nietzsche and the…

From Bonnie's list on the making of the modern self.

Ellenberger was one of the first and most important historians of psychiatry, and is still remembered for this dense, learned, comprehensive history of the origins of ‘dynamic psychiatry.’ At over 900 pages long, Ellenberger provides copious evidence that research on "the unconscious” long predates its ‘discovery’ by Sigmund Freud. It has since 1970 been lovingly mined by informed scholars for its encyclopedic review of the major movements of dynamic psychiatry and of a sometimes obscure, often technically-challenging literature.  

From Todd's list on Freud and his legacy.

“Discovering” the unconscious was in fact necessary before we could come to terms with consciousness. By exploring exorcism, mesmerism, hypnotism, psychoanalysis, and the seminal contributions of Janet, Freud, Adler, Jung, and others, this authoritative 932-page text is an excellent place to begin to problematize consciousness and how Julian Jaynes came to his stunning theory about bicameral mentality. 

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