In the early days of the development of the theory and practice of psychoanalysis, Freud took particular notice of the plays of Sophocles and Shakespeare’s Hamlet. This was largely in support of his description of the Oedipal phase of human development.
Later, he and many psychoanalysts, as well as many non-analysts, utilized the concepts relating to the impact of a dynamic unconscious and the effects of early life experiences as a lens through which to enlarge our understanding of a variety of cultural phenomena. Accordingly, philosophy, psychology, history, anthropology, as well as other disciplines were studied. Similarly, some writers of fiction used psychoanalytic concepts to characterize their characters. It is interesting to note, as did Freud, that some writers did so quite unconsciously, as did Schnitzler, Stendhal and Proust. Unfortunately, although many of these works provided readers with valuable contributions, some were formulaic and scanted the overdetermined world surrounding their subjects.
As the author of the following essays, I trust I have generally avoided the pitfalls of such constricting views.