Elementi di Psicoanalisi

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Published by Ulrico Hoepli (Milan, Italy) in 1931, Edoardo Weiss's work was the first complete and accurate exposé of psychoanalysis in Italy. Freud spoke approvingly of the work of his Italian disciple when he wrote in his preface that the book recommended itself to anyone who was able to appreciate the "seriousness of a scientific effort," the "honesty of the researcher," and the "skills of the teacher." Some chapters were translated into German in the Psychoanalytische Bewegung. A second edition appeared in 1932, and a third in 1936. The most recent edition was published in 1985.

The book is based on five lectures given by Weiss in Trieste, Italy, at the initiative of the local medical association in the spring of 1930. He covered the following subjects: (1) the nature of psychoanalysis and the concept of the id and unconscious inhibition, (2) symbolism, (3) the origin of the superego and social and religious sentiments, (4) drive theory, (5) psychic systems. In an appendix Weiss added a glossary of basic psychoanalytic vocabulary in Italian, with approximately ninety terms accompanied by their German equivalent. This small dictionary was the first, and for a long time the only, instrument of its kind available in Italy.

Although Weiss attempted to summarize Freud's thought, he did not simply reproduce it passively. He introduced a conceptual neologism, the "inhibitory id," to refer to the oldest part of the superego and the feeling of unconscious guilt that accompanies it. The problem of unconscious guilt appears clearly in the fourth lecture, where he describes Freud's death impulse and refers to Ernst Federn's statement concerning the intermediate character of the life and death drive.

The Elementi was a qualitative leap over the handful of works on psychoanalysis available in Italy until then, works that were often badly informed and tendentious. Therein lies its historical importance.

Anna Maria Accerboni

See also: Italy; Weiss, Edoardo.

Source Citation

Weiss, Edoardo. (1931). Elementi di psicoanalisi. Milan: Ulrico Hoepli.


Accerboni, Anna Maria. (1985). Un'opera che si raccomanda da sé. In Edoardo Weiss, Elementi di psicoanalisi. Pordenone, Italy: Studio Tesi.