The Psychopathology Of Everyday Life. By Sigmund Freud
At the age of 17 I was haunting Glasgow’s secondhand bookshops
and barrows. Some books I tried to read standing in the shop or
street, others I bought with the money I was supposed to spend on
They were a mixed lot: novels by Aldous Huxley, pamphlets like
The Communist Manifesto, all pouring impressions and ideas into my
untutored and undiscriminating mind.
Then one day I found Freud’s The Psychopathology of Everyday
Life. II had never heard of Freud but I fell in love with his
ideas. I can look back and still remember the excitement, the
frisson of recognition and the sense of discovery of a mind that
spoke to mine.
I was in the process of moving away from religion to socialism.
Freud offered a structure of thought that helped me to make meaning
of the chaos in which I was floundering without abandoning
important truths. Behaviour, not only my own but other people’s,
which had bewildered me, could now be understood.
The reality turned out to be more complex, but Freud’s central
idea that we are often motivated by unconscious drives that we
should try to understand was to influence the rest of my life. It
informed my work, my political attitudes and my relationships.
It still does.
The Psychopathology of Everyday Life is published by Penguin at