The Journal of Abnormal Psychology— Volume 10

Author: Unknown

Metaphysical Conceptions in Psycho-Analysis

There are three reasons why psycho-analysts do not more often encounter this variable element, this Hidden Z. First, such dreams as they elect to deal with, are mostly sexual. Second, they do not apply the methods of individual differences which have been made so familiar and so useful by Professor Cattell in this country.[*] Thirdly, their type of culture leads them to study the dream extensively rather than intensively and all the while in apparent disregard of those conceptions of physiological psychology which we now associate with the work of Wundt, of Ladd and of Woodworth, and with the psychopathology of Prince.

[*] The writer’s present psychophysiological theory of dreams was first broached in public, at a series of meetings on the subject of Individual Differences, held in honor of Professor Cattell, at Columbia University, in the Department of Psychology, in April, 1914.

To be sure, Jung’s recent utterances before the Psycho-Medical Society of London, demonstrate his dissatisfaction with the Freudian conception of the dream; but he is still far from those studies of specific mental and nervous dispositions to which psychology has slowly come, and for which we now have a tool in the shape of Prince’s conception of the neurogram. In psycho-analytic work a more vague use of "dream material" is preferred and it is only by good luck that the real settings-of-ideas come into account. Jung, no less than Freud, has forgotten that philosophy has become mechanistic since Descartes’[21] famous year of 1637, and Jung would throw us back to the early seventeenth century, with his energic conception of the Libido, or the Ur-libido, now called Horme and sometimes merely elan vital. And this, fifty years after Herbert Spencer’s tremendous emphasis on specific studies in reflex-action![22]

Fontenelle, the wittiest of Cartesians, writing in 1686, gives us a classic tableau of this sort of speculative temper. [23] He pictures worthies like Pythagoras, Heraclitus; Empedocles, as being invited to witness Lulli’s opera "Phaeton," at the Paris Odeon. In characteristic fashion, each in turn tries to explain the spectacular aerial flight of the actor in the title-role, from the floor of the stage to the ceiling. One says, that Phaeton is able to fly by the potency of certain numbers of which he is composed; another, that a secret virtue carries him aloft; still another, that Phaeton travels through the air because he abhors to leave a vacuum in the upper corner of the stage; and so on, with a hundred and one speculations which, as Fontenelle remarks, should have ruined the reputation of antiquity. Finally, he pictures Descartes coming along and saying: "This actor is able to rise from the floor because he hangs by a cord, at the other end of which is a counterpoise, heavier than he, which is descending." This is mechanistic . . . If Freud and Jung had been of the party, can it be doubted that the one would have ascribed Phaeton’s aviation to a wish-fulfilment of the flying-dream type, derived from a reminiscence of erotic motion-pleasure[24] in childhood, or that Jung, for his part, would have said Phaeton was levitated by the energic force of a sublimation of the Ur-Libido, alias elan vital, alias Horme!

* * *


Related Resources

None available for this document.

Download Options

Title: The Journal of Abnormal Psychology— Volume 10

Select an option:

*Note: A download may not start for up to 60 seconds.

Email Options

Title: The Journal of Abnormal Psychology— Volume 10

Select an option:

Email addres:

*Note: It may take up to 60 seconds for for the email to be generated.

Chicago: Unknown, "Metaphysical Conceptions in Psycho-Analysis," The Journal of Abnormal Psychology— Volume 10, trans. Macaulay, Thomas Babington Macaulay, Baron, 1800-1859 in The Journal of Abnormal Psychology—Volume 10 (London: Effingham Wilson, Royal Exchange, 1831), Original Sources, accessed March 30, 2023,

MLA: Unknown. "Metaphysical Conceptions in Psycho-Analysis." The Journal of Abnormal Psychology— Volume 10, translted by Macaulay, Thomas Babington Macaulay, Baron, 1800-1859, in The Journal of Abnormal Psychology—Volume 10, London, Effingham Wilson, Royal Exchange, 1831, Original Sources. 30 Mar. 2023.

Harvard: Unknown, 'Metaphysical Conceptions in Psycho-Analysis' in The Journal of Abnormal Psychology— Volume 10, trans. . cited in 1831, The Journal of Abnormal Psychology—Volume 10, Effingham Wilson, Royal Exchange, London. Original Sources, retrieved 30 March 2023, from