Freud and His Critics

ISBN 10: 0520080297 / ISBN 13: 9780520080294
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Synopsis: Wars against Freud have been waged along virtually every front during the past decade. Now Paul Robinson takes on three of Freud's most formidable critics, mounting a thoughtful, witty, and ultimately devastating critique of the historian of science Frank Sulloway, the psychoanalyst Jeffrey Masson, and the philosopher Adolf Grünbaum.

Frank Sulloway contends that Freud took most of his ideas from Darwin and other contemporary thinkers—that he was something of a closet biologist. Jeffrey Masson charges that Freud caved in to peer pressure when he abandoned his early seduction theory (which Masson believes was correct) in favor of the theory of infantile sexuality. Adolf Grünbaum impugns Freud's claim to have grounded his ideas—especially the idea of the unconscious—on solid empirical foundations.

Under Robinson's rigorous cross-examination, the evidence of these three accusers proves ambiguous and their arguments biased by underlying assumptions and ideological commitments. Robinson concludes that the anti-Freudian writings of Sulloway, Masson, and Grünbaum reveal more about their authors' prejudices—and about the Zeitgeist of the past decade—than they do about Freud.

Beautifully crafted and full of surprises, Robinson's work is a compelling defense of one of history's most original and powerful minds. Freud and His Critics will earn an enduring place in the raging Freudian debate.

From the Inside Flap: "A work of major interest to both scholars and general readers, splendidly conceived and splendidly executed."—Judith Hughes, author of Reshaping the Psychoanalytic Domain

"With admirable clarity, Paul Robinson painstakingly reconstructs and then relentlessly dismantles the arguments of Freud's most tenacious and recent debunkers. The results stunningly vindicate the abiding power of psychoanalysis as a master discourse of our age."—Martin Jay, Professor of History, UC Berkeley"A magnificent contribution to the ever-growing and discordant industry of Freud scholarship. Robinson incisively assesses the critiques of three of the most formidable Freud adversaries—Sulloway, who would recast Freud as a crypto-biologist, heir to Darwin and forerunner to modern sociobiology; Masson, who faults Freud as a failed social reformer and a presumed moral coward; and Greenbaum, who sees Freud as a positivistic natural scientist unequal to his chosen task—and persuasively demonstrates the differing ways in which they each thoroughly misread Freud, each (differently) building the most unsubstantial of revisionary arguments. Their greatest 'crime,' in Robinson's perspective, and this they share in common, is a fundamental trivialization of the towering genius who more than any other single individual has shaped the modern sensibility and has been the most important modern theorist of the individual."—Robert S. Wallerstein, M.D., Past President, International Psychoanalytical Association

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