Questions for Freud: The Secret History of Psychoanalysis

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9780674004214: Questions for Freud: The Secret History of Psychoanalysis
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With all the intrigue and twists of a mystery, Questions for Freud uncovers the paradoxes that riddle psychoanalysis today and traces them to Freud's vacillation at key points in his work--and from there to a traumatic event in Freud's life.

What role did censored family history play in shaping Freud's psychological inquiries, promoting and impeding them by turns? With this question in mind, Nicholas Rand and Maria Torok develop a new biographical and conceptual approach to psychoanalysis, one that outlines Freud's contradictory theories of mental functioning against the backdrop of his permanent lack of insight into crucial and traumatic aspects of his immediate family's life. Taking us through previously unpublished documents and Freud's dreams, his clinical work and institutional organization, the authors show how a shameful event in 1865 that shook Freud and his family can help explain the internal clashes that later beset his work--on the origins of neurosis, reality, trauma, fantasy, sexual repression, the psychoanalytic study of literature, and dream interpretation.

Steeped in the history, theory, and practice of psychoanalysis, this book offers a guide to the wary, a way of understanding the flaws and contradictions of Freud's thought without losing sight of its significance. This book will alter the terms of the current debate about the standing of psychoanalysis and Freud.

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Review:

Nicholas Rand and Maria Torok begin their Questions for Freud by identifying what they call "contradictions" internal to Freudian thought, the most important of which are the tension between individualist and universalist conceptions of dream symbolism, Freud's vacillation over the seduction theory, and the tendency of Freud and his followers to suppress challenges to psychoanalytic orthodoxy (which is particularly ironic in light of their liberatory aspirations). The authors then attempt to explain the presence of these contradictions by citing trauma in Freud's own childhood. As they acknowledge, the idea of psychoanalytically examining Freud's theorizing is nothing new: Max Schur, Marie Balmary, Marianne Kruell, and Barbro Sylvan have all tried their hand at it. What is novel is their choice of trauma: the conviction and imprisonment of Freud's uncle Josef for selling counterfeit rubles, which they support by reinterpreting Freud's dreams as recounted in The Interpretation of Dreams.

There are many good things in Questions for Freud--not the least of which is the lengthy discussion of Freud's misreading of Jensen's Gradiva--but the overall argument is unfortunately vitiated by two flaws characteristic of psychoanalytic attempts at explanation. First, Rand and Torok appear to infer the correctness of their explanation from the mere fact that Freud's dreams accommodate it. Second, they never explain in any detail how the avuncular trauma is supposed to have induced the contradictions in Freud's thought for which it is allegedly responsible. --Glenn Branch

About the Author:

Nicholas Rand is Professor of French Literature and Senior Fellow at the Humanities Research Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His works include the American editions of The Wolf Man's Magic Word and The Shell and the Kernel: Renewals of Psychoanalysis, which Maria Torok, an internationally renowned French psychoanalyst, coauthored with the late Nicolas Abraham.

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Book Description Harvard University Press. Paperback. Condition: New. This item is printed on demand. 256 pages. With all the intrigue and twists of a mystery, Questions for Freud uncovers the paradoxes that riddle psychoanalysis today and traces them to Freuds vacillation at key points in his work--and from there to a traumatic event in Freuds life. What role did censored family history play in shaping Freuds psychological inquiries, promoting and impeding them by turns With this question in mind, Nicholas Rand and Maria Torok develop a new biographical and conceptual approach to psychoanalysis, one that outlines Freuds contradictory theories of mental functioning against the backdrop of his permanent lack of insight into crucial and traumatic aspects of his immediate familys life. Taking us through previously unpublished documents and Freuds dreams, his clinical work and institutional organization, the authors show how a shameful event in 1865 that shook Freud and his family can help explain the internal clashes that later beset his work--on the origins of neurosis, reality, trauma, fantasy, sexual repression, the psychoanalytic study of literature, and dream interpretation. Steeped in the history, theory, and practice of psychoanalysis, this book offers a guide to the wary, a way of understanding the flaws and contradictions of Freuds thought without losing sight of its significance. This book will alter the terms of the current debate about the standing of psychoanalysis and Freud. This item ships from La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Seller Inventory # 9780674004214

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