Trattato di Psicoanalisi

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Cesare Musatti's Trattato di psicoanalisi (Treatise on psychoanalysis) was written in the 1930s, when the first generation of Italian psychoanalysts were active and when psychoanalysis was first beginning to reach the public. Unfortunately, its publication was hampered by an idealist, fascist culture that resisted the challenges of psychoanalysis.

The treatise was based on lectures in experimental psychology that Musatti gave from 1933 to 1935 at the University of Padua. He attempted to provide a solid foundation for young physicians who were interested in the new methods of psychotherapy and were considering using them professionally. At the same time he wanted to offer the Italian public a solid popular work about psychoanalysis that would sweep away the prejudices and falsehoods then prevalent about the field.

Although the book was completed in 1938, the political and cultural situation in Italy presented an obstacle to its publication for over a decade. At the time Nazi racism, which existed in Italy in diluted form, considered psychoanalysis a Jewish science and sought to destroy the work of Freud and his followersphysically and in spirit. For years the manuscript remained in Musatti's desk. It was finally published in 1949 by Boringhieri. The work was subsequently reprinted several times, first by Einaudi.

Musatti's Trattato consists of six parts. He retraced the origins of Freud's discovery, from dreams to free association, from fantasy to the arts, being careful to define mental pathology as well as the structure of human personality. His goal was to introduce psychoanalysis to scientists and academicians, and thereby win their support. Ironically, errors like the "doctrine of instincts," the name given by Musatti to a section of his book, could have been the source of a certain resistance to his work. This turned out not to be the case, and the confusion remained between drive and instincta key Freudian distinction that is ignored in the Standard Edition of Freud's works. Notwithstanding its limitations, the Trattato, known as the "freudino" (the little Freud) by students, has the merit of having been the first essay to describe Freud's work systematically without excessive distortion, at least in comparison with earlier Italian-language summaries.

Giancarlo Gramaglia

See also: Musatti, Cesare.

Source Citation

Musatti, Cesare. (1949). Trattato di psicoanalisi. Turin, Italy: Boringhieri-Einaudi.


Gramaglia, Giancarlo. (1995). Discorsi/scritti di psicoanalisi. Turin, Italy: Il Laboratorio.