On Reading Freud aims to help anyone who is interested in reading Freud to do so with some pleasure and profit. It outlines some of the barriers a modern reader encounters in efforts to understand Freud, and offers guidance in overcoming them.
Since Freud’s meaning cannot be grasped if one lacks knowledge of his place in the history of ideas, the text locates him with reference to a number of major trends in the contemporaneous history of ideas. Another major problem for many readers is that Freud had a way of thinking, reasoning, working, and writing, that was in part unique to him, in part a variant of ways that were much more common several generations ago than they are today. The concluding section, on Freud’s cognitive style, offers the most extended and ambitious effort available anywhere to get inside Freud’s mind and to make explicit and comprehensible the ways it worked, so the reader can avoid being confused or put off by some of his stylistic idiosyncrasies. The approach attempts to be emphatic and critical, since it is evident that the author believes Freud’s contributions are so enormous and enduring as to outweigh the fallacies and errors that were a necessary part of his pioneering work. (87 pp.)