Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality” as Want to Read:
Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  5,802 ratings  ·  319 reviews
The standard edition of Freud's seminal theory of the psychology of sexuality

These three essays -- "The Sexual Aberrations," "Infantile Sexuality," and "The Transformations of Puberty" -- are among Sigmund Freud's most important works. Here, Freud outlines the core features of libido theory, his grand view of the psychology of sexuality: sexual perversion is a matter of h
Paperback, 240 pages
Published February 18th 2000 by Basic Books (first published 1905)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.66  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,802 ratings  ·  319 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality
Ernest Junius
I showed an excerpt of Freud's writing to my friend over lunch earlier this afternoon. The excerpt read like this:

Contact between the child and its carer is, for the child, an endlessly flowing source of sexual stimulation and satisfaction of erogenous zones, particularly since the carer—more generally the mother—bestows upon the child feelings derived from her sexual life, stroking, kissing and rocking the child, and quite clearly taking it as substitute for fully valid sexual object.

My friend
Jul 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: theory
We are not in a position to give so much as a hint as to the causes of these temporal disturbances of the process of development. A prospect opens before us at this point upon a whole phalanx of biological and perhaps, too, of historical problems of which we have not even come within striking distance.

I admire Freud in a similar way to that which I encounter Augustine. Despite glaring mistakes, there is a pellucid grace to the prose. The reasoning in a local sense is wonderful, despite the concl
If you can talk to a person about this book without being judged as a psychopath or reported to police, I think that's where the most profound and farthest form of trust a homo sapien can witness. ...more
Feb 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I suppose having an idea of how to think about Freud's work is necessary to begin to answer what one can/does/should think about it. And truth be told, I'm not sure how to think about Freud. I will say, though, that reading Freud is a lot more interesting than reading about Freud. Best to go right to the source, no? Regardless, there is A LOT in here that is as important as the moment Freud's pen touched the page. For one, and you won't read this in any reviews or general talk about this book, i ...more
Nicole Rea
Sep 17, 2012 rated it liked it
"Moreover, the kiss, one particular contact of this kind, between the mucous membrane of the lips of the two people concerned, is held in high sexual esteem among many nations (including the most highly civilized ones), in spite of the fact that the parts of the body involved do not form part of the sexual apparatus but constitute the entrance to the digestive tract."

Freakin' Freud, man.
this was really freaking weird - i have nothing else to say about it
Morgan Blackledge
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing

Now that’s an evocative read.

They sure don’t make them like that anymore.

If you have read any of my other reviews, you may already know that I’m a reluctant and late convert to the psychoanalytic model.

And that is putting it politely.

I’m actually a recovering ultra-hater.

In retrospect, my resistance to the analytic orientations was a real live case of reaction formation.

For those of y’all that are unfamiliar, reaction formation is a quintessential Freudian idea (posited by Anna Freud) th
Is this the book that takes your innocence away, corrupts every fiber of your being and makes you think of anything but pure love when you see a mother breastfeeding her child?

Well, I need it for an article.

Oct 24, 18
Aug 27, 2010 rated it liked it
How do you rate something like the "Three Essays," which, though by no means enjoyable, signals one of the most significant paradigmatic shifts in thought in the past several centuries--? I gave the book an arbitrary 4 stars. Frankly, I'm no Freud expert; my experience with his work largely comes from feminist readings OF Freud, rather than readings of his text.

Of course these essays are important. From arguing towards a notion of universal perversion to elaborating on the natural sexual precoc
Jan 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A primordial text with, alas, a bad reputation.

What is remarkable about Freud in these essays is that what people typically saw as "abnormal" or "perverse" sexual expression, is not seen as so "abnormal" by him.
He states that sexual experiences from infantile age creates the underpinnings of personality, yet are also sequestered from narrative memory.

His evidence that sexual forces occur throughout life is based on the child's way of self-soothing using thumb-sucking as an example of a rhythmic
I am a graduate student and mental health professional of Freud's foundational thoughts of how the mind works. Though his ideas have been contradicted about aspects of his theories, he remains my mainstay for early beliefs of what it means to be human.

This belief system was supported by my experience in analysis that has enabled me to better understand psychological issues.
Michael Kress
Sep 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1900s
I've been trying out a few Freud samples on Kindle, and this was the one that held my attention long enough for a purchase. A lot of Freud is "this behavior implies this" with tedious details, as well as most of it being debunked, but the topics in these essays were interesting, taboo, and funny enough for me to tolerate that. To me it was a lot like reading some of the edgy modern-day genre fiction that I like, probably more entertaining than enlightening, and since so much of it is wrong, it r ...more
Mar 10, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Outdated and repetitive.
Above all,, all he talks about concerns males.. Feminine behavior is just a reflection of masculinity,,, what none sense!!
I am sure that all misogynists are thrilled to find a scientific proof justifies what they think and feel -_-
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
After tackling the problems of hysteria (1895, with Joseph Breuer) and dreams (1899), Viennese doctor and psychotherapist Sigmund Freud decided that time was ripe to dive into the fundamental causal factor explaining every bit of our mental world (i.e. including hysteria and dreams): sex.

In his earlier works, Freud already mentioned that sex, or sexuality, is the main spring from which our thoughts and our behaviour arise. Hysteria is a symbolization of consciously repressed ideas and affects, w
Supriya Kunwar
Sep 18, 2020 rated it liked it
Things made sense until the Oedipus Complex, after that I understood nothing. Freud talks of instinctual influence, but aren't social, cultural and historical factors also accountable to sexual developments? This theory could be useful in explaining individual behavior but not in predicting their outcomes. This would bode well with criminology. ...more
Sidharth Vardhan
An Exercise in Intellectual Courage

Sigmund Freud is called ‘Father of Psychology’; this book along with ‘Interpretation of Dreams’ and his work on psycho-analysis forms the very foundations of psychology. The two books though require a certain degree of intellectual courage in reading.

An act of brutal honesty
The reason why this book suffers such bad reputation is because it says things people in their narrow mindedness find difficult to accept. Like Darwin, Galileo, Aryabhata, Chanakya, Mac
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I always assumed reading Freud would be boring, but this is both perfectly readable and immensely insightful. Some concepts initially sound old, such as 'inverts' and 'hysteria', but a little more than 100 years just has this effect on words. The ideas themselves are almost mind-blowing and - I have to assume because it's not my field at all - still relevant. ...more
Jun 11, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sexology
includes the famous argument that osculation, unnecessary to procreation, must, by retrograde standards of virtue, be considered a perversion.
Ignatius Vonnegut
Only very sporadically interesting.
Mar 19, 2011 rated it liked it
This book was much better than I expected. The KEY to this book is to understand Freud's use of the words he chooses. In the 21st century, we live in a hyper-sexual world; words have double meanings and are heavy on innuendo. For example, when we use the word "libido," it is heavy with meaning and judgement. When Freud uses this word it is merely to convey "sexual drive." If you understand his words have a very clinical meaning, then you can appreciate Freud's ideas, and stop seeing them through ...more
Jonathan Widell
Dec 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read Freud's Three Contributions to the Theory of Sex and I am cured! The intervening century has done little to dim the essays' lustre. Written in 1905, they are still eminently readable. A lot remained to be studied and discovered, which is why Freud prudently chose to call his essays "contributions".

As a physician, Freud was interested in the body and as a psychoanalyst in the psyche. The magic happened when those two were in dialogue with each other. For instance, Freud explained that con
I don't know I don't know. I understand the importance of this work and it lays out some key elements of Freud's work, but it is very abstract. As I'm not the biggest fan of psychoanalysis in the first place it all just sounds a bit silly to me. And, of course, some parts of this of this are just really really outdated and wrong ("If you can't have a vaginal orgasm, you're not doing it right!"). I suppose I (would) prefer Freud's case studies - applied psychoanalysis can be really interesting an ...more
Jorun Bork
Oct 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
So, apparently when children refuse to poop, they are actually masturbating, as it feels pleasurable to feel the poop rubbing against the bowels.

This book has truly frustrated me and filled me with rage. Yet, I also find the topic intriguing, and it is an interesting point-of-view that Freud presents the reader with.
May 18, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-non_fiction
Obviously antiquated (almost laughably so when it comes to the language), but at the same time interesting. The best bits being what Freud is open about not knowing, especially when it comes to what we've learned from modern biology. ...more
Aug 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology
although i don't see eye to eye with freud on certain opinions, i think his writing style is clear and masterful and, thus, his theories are easily understood by ordinary people, like myself. ...more
Feb 27, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ap-english
Pretty repetitive. I don't see why this was so long, I skimmed over it and got enough of an idea of what is was about without having to read it in depth. ...more
Dwight Davis
Jan 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
If you like doing something, anything, it's probably because it sexually excites you. That's what I learned from this book.

Also, how do you make sex so boring?
Apr 13, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
The history of the philosophy of sex is the history of secularization. One could write a history of Western thought about sexuality from Plato through Augustine and Kant to Foucault in terms of the disenchantment of a world gradually stripped of its teleological and spiritual significance. Such a history, were it ever to be written, would have to give Freud pride of place as the precise moment at which the last vestiges of the Aristo-Thomistic worldview that had reigned through the Middle Ages w ...more
Rubel Rana
Mar 17, 2020 rated it liked it
I wanted to say that this book is disgusting but I think the word disturbing goes with it. People are often asked not to allow their child to watch porn before they are 18, well They should not allow their children to read Freud before they are at least 29. Fuck to the power Fuck. I should've not read this now. May be 4 , 5 years later or may be never. I don't know whether Freud was right or not about what he discussed. I just know that I simply don't want to think like him at least on this mate ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction
  • Studies in Hysteria
  • The Sublime Object of Ideology
  • Psychological Types
  • Eros and Civilization: A Philosophical Inquiry into Freud
  • The Athenian Constitution
  • Twilight of the Idols
  • Capital, Vol. 2: The Process of Circulation of Capital
  • Aşka ve Kadınlara Dair
  • Understanding Human Nature
  • Stirner's Critics
  • This Sex Which Is Not One
  • Introducing Lacan
  • Freud: A Very Short Introduction
  • Taş Bina ve Diğerleri
  • Phaedrus
  • The State and Revolution
  • Frații Jderi
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Dr. Sigismund Freud (later changed to Sigmund) was a neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis, who created an entirely new approach to the understanding of the human personality. He is regarded as one of the most influential—and controversial—minds of the 20th century.

In 1873, Freud began to study medicine at the University of Vienna. After graduating, he worked at the Vienna General Hospital

Related Articles

  Luvvie Ajayi Jones—author, cultural critic, digital entrepreneur—might be best described as a professional truthteller. Her crazily popular...
52 likes · 0 comments
“It has been brought to our notice that we have been in the habit of regarding the connection between the sexual instinct and the sexual object as more intimate than it in fact is. Experience of the cases that are considered abnormal has shown us that in them the sexual instinct and the sexual object are merely soldered together—a fact which we have been in danger of overlooking in consequence of the uniformity of the normal picture, where the object appears to form part and parcel of the instinct. We are thus warned to loosen the bond that exists in our thoughts between instinct and object. It seems probable that the sexual instinct is in the first instance independent of its object; nor is its origin likely to be due to its object's attractions.” 4 likes
More quotes…