Freud on Marx and Engels, Darwin, Psychoanalysis, the Primal Horde, the Super-Ego, and the Id

Freud, Sigmund, founder of psychoanalysis (1856-1939). Autograph letter signed ("Freud").

Vienna, 10 Sept. 1937.

Folio. 2 pp. Addenda.


To Dr R. L. Worrall, in German, thanking him for his interesting letter, from which he has learned much, and answering some of the points raised: "I know that my comments on Marxism are no evidence either of a thorough knowledge or a correct understanding of the writings of Marx and Engels. I have learnt since - very much to my satisfaction - that both in no way denied the influence of ideas and superego-structures. That invalidates the main contrast between Marxism and psycho-analysis which I had believed to exist. As to the 'dialectic', I am no clearer, even after your letter. / For the evidence of the hypothesis of the human primal horde I must refer you to my sources, Darwin and Atkinson. I have no other arguments than theirs. Naturally I accepted from psycho-analytical experience and what it would have led one to expect"; adding that "I do not quite grasp the bearing of your question about the nature of Id. As far as I understand it I should answer in the affirmative" (translation by Ernest Jones).

Worrall had written to Freud querying his statement in "New Introductory Lectures" that Marxism attributes social change solely to economic forces, whereas he believed Marx and Engels took full account of social history and psychological factors; he also raised the subject of Hegel's Absolute Ideal, and enquired whether Freud's concept of an "old man of the tribe" relationship in prehistory, as giving rise to the Oedipus Complex, derived from Atkinson's interpretation of Darwin - and specifically if the mental qualities characteristic of the Id are of prehuman rather than of human origin (see the copy of Worrall's letter to Ernest Jones, included along with Jones's translation; also included is correspondence between Worrall and K. R. Eissler of the Sigmund Freud Archives, New York). When he wrote this letter, Freud was already suffering from the cancer that was to kill him: he tells Worrall that his letter "deserve[s] a comprehensive answer" but explains that "to do that by hand would be too great an effort for my eighty-one years" and that "a personal discussion would be a pleasure for me". Six months later, Austria was absorbed into the German Reich, and three months after that Freud escaped to England, where he was to die in September 1939.

On headed paper ("Prof. Dr. Freud"); smudge to ink, tape-stains at edges especially overleaf, weak at fold.

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