Freud's Traumatic Memory: Reclaiming Seduction Theory and Revisiting Oedipus

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9780820703640: Freud's Traumatic Memory: Reclaiming Seduction Theory and Revisiting Oedipus
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One of the most important questions in Freud scholarship concerns why, after touting traumatic childhood sexual abuse as the cause of hysteria, Freud turned away from “seduction theory” and instead created the Oedipus complex and the theory of childhood sexuality. In this study, Mary Marcel applies the most recent clinical work on trauma and recovered memory to Freud's memories. Her use of rhetorical analysis reveals that Freud's own reasons for abandoning the seduction theory were unfounded and misanalyzed. Marcel relates how, near the beginning of his self-analysis in 1897, Freud recovered a memory of having been molested by his nurse in infancy. Deeply troubled, Freud misread a favorite Greek myth and created the Oedipus complex as a means of regaining a sense of control over himself and the nurse's crime. Marcel's book is a comprehensive analysis of both the original Oedipus myths and the Greek myths of father-daughter incest. Closely analyzing Freud's biography, his early career, his letters to his confidante Wilhelm Fliess and the Oedipus myth in its full complexity, Marcel applies a multiplicity of methods and casts a completely new light on what is in fact Freud's thorough misrepresentation of both Oedipus and the incest taboo. By analyzing Freud's arguments, recovered memories from self-analysis and misuse of classical sources, Marcel uncovers why Freud turned away from seduction theory, misconstrued Oedipus, and was unable to cure his own neurosis.

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About the Author:

MARY MARCEL has taught rhetoric at the University of Virginia, the University of California at Berkeley, San Francisco State University and Bentley College. She has won several awards for research, service and teaching. She was formerly associate undergraduate dean at Bentley College. Her work has appeared in the Cambridge Quarterly and The Encyclopedia of Rhetoric and Composition.

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"Marcel's style is lively, her scholarship is well argued, and her organization and follow-up are meticulous, making her book a solid addition to the literature on psychoanalysis and the history of ideas." --Choice

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