The Psychoanalytic Movement: The Cunning of Unreason

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9780631234135: The Psychoanalytic Movement: The Cunning of Unreason

The Psychoanalytic Movement explains how the language of psychoanalysis became the dominant way in which the middle classes of the industrialized West speak about their emotions.


  • Explains how the language of psychoanalysis became the dominant way for the industrialized West to speak about emotion.
  • Argues that although psychoanalysis offers an incisive picture of human nature, it provides untestable operational definitions and makes unsubstantiated claims concerning its therapeutic efficacy.
  • Includes new foreword by Jose Brunner that expands on the central argument of the book and argues that Gellner and Freud might be seen as kindred spirits.

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Book Description:

How did the language of psychoanalysis become the dominant idiom in which the middle classes of the industrialized West speak about their emotions? Ernest Gellner offers a forceful and complex answer to this intriguing question in The Psychoanalytic Movement. This landmark study argues that although psychoanalysis offers an incisive picture of human nature, it provides untestable operational definitions and makes unsubstantiated claims concerning its therapeutic efficacy. In a new foreword Jose Brunner expands on the central argument of The Psychoanalytic Movement. Placing Gellner's work in the context of contemporary hostile critiques of Freud, Brunner argues that these two blatantly different thinkers might also be seen as kindred spirits.

About the Author:

Ernest Gellner was born in Paris in 1925, and was educated in Prague and England. He was professor of philosophy and sociology at the London School of Economics from 1949 to 1984. In 1984 he became the William Wyse Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of Nations and Nationalism (Blackwell Publishers, 1983), Anthropology and Politics (Blackwell Publishers, 1996), and Encounters with Nationalism (Blackwell Publishers, 1995). Dr Gellner died in 1995.

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