The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, which appeared first in 1901 and was then expanded in a series of subsequent editions, has proved to be one of Freud’s most popular works, and one of his most influential during his lifetime. It was here that he proposed that many slips and errors of memory common to the average man in everyday life actually signals unconscious issues that beset the individual, and, if examined, can be extremely revealing. Freud opens the work with the following statement:
‘During the year 1898 I published a short essay on the Psychic Mechanism of Forgetfulness. I shall now repeat its contents and take it as a starting-point for further discussion. I have there undertaken a psychologic analysis of a common case of temporary forgetfulness of proper names, and from a pregnant example of my own observation I have reached the conclusion that this frequent and practically unimportant occurrence of a failure of a psychic function – of memory – admits an explanation which goes beyond the customary utilization of this phenomenon.’
This ‘phenomenon’ was a personal matter for Freud himself. He observed its frequent and varied appearance as an important tool in his psychoanalytic work. He analyses the subject through 12 chapters, including Forgetting of Proper Names, Foreign Words, Childhood and Concealing Memories, Mistakes in Speech, Reading and Writing, Erroneously Carried-out Actions, and Determinism, Chance and Superstitious Beliefs. The Psychopathology of Everyday Life is a key work in psychology and psychoanalysis, yet very accessible. It is presented in a clear and direct manner by Derek Le Page.