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Dispatches from the Freud Wars: Psychoanalysis and Its Passions

John Forrester

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ISBN 10: 0674539605 / ISBN 13: 9780674539600
Published by Harvard University Press, 1997
Used Condition: Used: Good Hardcover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Dispatches from the Freud Wars: ...

Publisher: Harvard University Press

Publication Date: 1997

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Used: Good

About this title

Synopsis:

In this challenging collection of essays, the noted historian and philosopher of science John Forrester delves into the disputes over Freud's dead body. With wit and erudition, he tackles questions central to our psychoanalytic century's ways of thinking and living, including the following: Can one speak of a morality of the psychoanalytic life? Are the lives of both analysts and patients doomed to repeat the incestuous patterns they uncover? What and why did Freud collect? Is a history of psychoanalysis possible?

By taking nothing for granted and leaving no cliché of psychobabble--theoretical or popular--unturned, Forrester gives us a sense of the ethical surprises and epistemological riddles that a century of tumultuous psychoanalytical debate has often obscured. In these pages, we explore dreams, history, ethics, political theory, and the motor of psychoanalysis as a scientific movement.

Forrester makes us feel that the Freud Wars are not merely a vicious quarrel or a fashionable journalistic talking point for the late twentieth century. This hundred years' war is an index of the cultural and scientific climate of modern times. Freud is indeed a barometer for understanding how we conduct our different lives.

Review:

Dispatches from the Freud Wars consists of six of John Forrester's recent essays on Freudian psychoanalysis and its cultural implications, as well as an amusing epilogue in which the ghost of Freud is allowed to comment on current reactions to his thoughts. In the introduction, Forrester states the underlying rationale of the essays: "The more one knows about Freud--the more one has unlearned what one was culturally hard-wired to know about him--the more interesting and surprising and thought-provoking he becomes."

Forrester is at his best in the essays that are primarily historical. His discussions of the bizarre love triangle involving Freud's disciple Sandor Ferenczi; Freud's penchant for collection (of objets d'art as well as dreams, jokes, and parapraxes); and the historiography of the psychoanalytic movement are lucid, insightful, and eminently worthwhile. His critical essays are not as good. While "Justice, Envy, and Psychoanalysis" interestingly criticizes John Rawls's arguments against the idea--found in Mandeville, Nietzsche, and Freud--that justice is ultimately based on envy, it is regrettably also somewhat silly on the topic of penis envy. The title essay, moreover, is captious in argument and peevish in tone, as Forrester reacts to the anti-Freudian animadversions of Frederick Crews and Stanley Fish by focusing on rhetorical weaknesses in their arguments rather than on the arguments themselves. Read Dispatches from the Freud Wars for the historical background to the struggle, but not for the latest news from the front. --Glenn Branch

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