Sigmund Freud and the Psychoanalytical Concept of Fear and Anxiety

  • Sergio Starkstein


A major shift in the concept of fear occurred in 1895 when Sigmund Freud separated out from the syndrome of ‘neurasthenia’ a specific entity he termed ‘Neurosis Anxiety.’ This conceptual demarcation had major consequences for the nosology of fear and anxiety. Most importantly, Freud’s delineation of pathological anxiety resulted in the description of a specific pathogenesis based on psychodynamic theories and the creation of a therapy, both instrumental in the medicalization of fear. This chapter provides a critical analysis of Freud’s construction of normal, and pathological fear and anxiety as well as the conceptual problems arising from his psychophysical reduction, which consisted in a pneumatic system of deflected sexual energy, and later, in memory images of early traumas.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Western AustraliaFremantleAustralia

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