William L Kelly presents an overview of the lives and works of four major contributors to our present knowledge of the unconscious: Anton Mesmer, Pierre Janet, Sigmund Freud, and Carl Gustav Jung. Kelly examines the fascinating careers of these giants as well as the major themes of their research, including the use of hypnosis to treat hysteria and the relation of the symbolism of dreams to unconscious forces. Revealing the all-too-human elements at work behind the myths, Kelly recounts the difficulties early psychotherapy had in making itself a respectable branch of science and the infighting that led finally to a personal and professional break between Freud and Jung. After presenting the major themes in the work of the early experimentalists, Kelly moves on to a discussion of important recent findings in five major areas of research into the unconscious: mind-body (psychosomatic) illnesses; sleep disorders; dream therapy; hypnosis; and, parapsychology. While the legitimacy of such allegedly paranormal phenomena as clairvoyance, psychokinesis, and precognition has long been contested and remains controversial still, their study continues to fascinate modern researchers.
Unique in its introductory yet thorough discussion and analysis of the history and development of theories of the unconscious, this highly readable volume provides an accessible synthesis of the psychology of the unconscious and suggests future developments. As the human species enters the twenty-first century, along what divergent paths on the 'royal road' to the unconscious will psychology take us? Various researchers may offer different answers, but on one thing they all agree, given the earlier lessons learned from Mesmer, Janet, Freud, and Jung: a heightened knowledge of the unconscious can only mean an improved understanding of human behaviour.
William L. Kelly, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist in private practice and a professor of psychology at Georgetown University. In addition to numerous articles in professional publications, he is the author of the books Youth Before God and Readings in the Philosophy of Man.