actual neurosis

Actual Neurosis
= D.: Aktualneurose.–Es.: neurosis actual.–Fr.: névrose actuelle.–I.: nevrosi attuale.–P.:
neurose atual.
A type of neurosis which Freud distinguishes from the anxiety neurosis* and
neurasthenia* made up the actual neuroses, but he later proposed that hypochondria
should be counted among them.


The term ‘actual neurosis’ appears for the first time in Freud’s work in 1898, when it is
used to denote anxiety neurosis and neurasthenia (1a). The idea that these conditions were to
be set apart from the other neuroses had been developed much earlier, however, during his
researches into the aetiology of the neuroses, as can be seen from both the correspondence
with Fliess (2) and the writings of 1894-96 (3).


a. The opposition between the actual neuroses and the psychoneuroses is essentially
aetiological and pathogenic: the cause is definitely sexual in both these types of neurosis, but
in the former case it must be sought in ‘a disorder of [the subject’s] contemporary sexual life’
and not in ‘important events in his past life’ (4). The adjective ‘actual’ is therefore to be
understood first and foremost in the sense of temporal ‘actuality’ (1b) [a sense which has
largely been abandoned by modern English usage–tr.]. In addition, this aetiology is somatic
rather than psychical: ‘… the source of excitation, the precipitating cause of the disturbance,
lies in the somatic field instead of the psychical one, as is the case in hysteria and obsessional
neurosis’ (5). In anxiety neurosis, this precipitating cause is considered to be the nondischarge
of sexual excitation, while in neurasthenia it is the incomplete satisfaction of it, as
in masturbation, which is held to be responsible.

1、 真性神经症与心理神经症的对立,基本上是病因学与病原学。在这两种神经症,原因却是是性。但是在前者的原因必须被寻找,在「主体的当代性生活的疾病」,而不是在「他过去生活的重要事件」。「真性」这个形容词因此应该被了解,首先而且重要地,以「时间的真性」的意义。除外,这个病因学是身体的,而不是心理的:「興奋的来源,困扰的突然原因在于身体的领域,而不是心理的领域,如同歇斯底里症与妄想症的神经症。在焦虑神经症,突发的原因被认为是性的興奋没有被发泄,而在麻痹神经症,原因是性的興奋的满足不完整,如同在手淫,它被认为要负责任。
Lastly, the mechanism of symptom-formation* is taken to be somatic in the actual
neuroses (as when there is a direct transformation of the excitation into anxiety); so that
‘actual’ connotes the absence of the mediations which are to be encountered in the symptom formation
of the psychoneuroses (displacement, condensation, etc.).


From the therapeutic standpoint, the upshot of these views is that the actual neuroses
cannot be treated psycho-analytically because their symptoms do not have a meaning that can
be elucidated (6).


Freud never abandons this position in respect of the actual neuroses. He puts it forward
on a number of occasions, remarking that the explanation of the mechanism of symptomformation
in these cases can be left to the chemical sciences (intoxication of the sexual
substances by products of the metabolism) (7).


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– 10 –
b. There is, in Freud’s view, more than an overall antithesis opposing the psychoneuroses
to the actual neuroses: he attempts several times to establish a thoroughgoing isomorphism
between neurasthenia and anxiety neurosis on the one hand and the various paraphrenias* or

3、 从弗洛依德的观点,将心理神经症与真性神经症相提并论的的全面的对立,不仅只有一个。 他好几次企图建立一个彻底应用的辨明,在麻痹神经症与焦虑神经症之间。
2 Cf. Freud, S. Fliess papers, Drafts B and E, Anf., 76-82 and 98-103; S.E., I, 179-84 and
3 Cf. for example Freud, S.: ‘The Psychotherapy of Hysteria’, in Studies on Hysteria (1895d);
‘On the Grounds for Detaching a Particular Syndrome from Neurasthenia under the
Description “Anxiety Neurosis”’ (1895b); ‘Heredity and the Aetiology of the
Neuroses’ (1896a).
4 Freud, S. ‘Heredity and the Aetiology of the Neuroses’ (1896a), G.W., I, 414; S.E., III, 149.
– 11 –
5 Freud, S. ‘On the Grounds for Detaching a Particular Syndrome from Neurasthenia under
the Description “Anxiety Neurosis”’ (1895b), G.W., I, 341; S.E., III, 114.
6 Cf. Freud, S. ‘The Psychotherapy of Hysteria’, in Studies on Hysteria (1895d), G.W., I,
259; S.E., II, 261.
7 Cf. for example Freud, S. ‘Contributions to a Discussion on Masturbation’ (1912f), G.W.,
VIII, 337; S.E., XII, 248. And Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis (1916-17), G.W.,
XI, 400-4; S.E., XVI, 385-89.
8 Cf. Freud, S. ‘On Narcissism: An Introduction’ (1914c), G.W., X, 149-51; S.E., XIV, 82-
9 Freud, S. Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis (1916-17), G.W., XI, 405; S.E., XVI,
10 ‘Types of Onset of Neurosis’ (1912c), G.W., VIII, 322-30; S.E., XII, 231-38.

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