Wednesday, January 30, 2008

PUB: Dufresne, Todd, ed. AGAINST FREUD: CRITICS TALK BACK. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2007.

This work consists of a series of extended interviews with eminent critics of Freud and psychoanalysis in general. Most deal with the minutiae of the development of Freud's ideas, their relationship to his personal motives, and their logical and epistemological status. The question of the extent to which Freud's views were influenced by his biological background is discussed, and they also seek to provide the historical context in which these ideas evolved. A great deal of fascinating material is presented, little known outside the ranks of specialists. For instance, Freud' own accounts of particular cases are compared with those of the patients themselves, bringing out sharp discrepancies. The interviewers were usually skilful in drawing out and challenging the participants, though at times they interrupted the flow of the argument. From this point of view the interview with Frank Sulloway, historian of ideas, seemed to me the most coherent and enlightening one. As one might expect from the title, all are essentially engaged in a demolition job, and one wishes that some voice had been allowed to an attorney for defense. The book evoked in my mind an image of vultures feasting on the corpse of Freud. A particularly tasty morsel was Freud's abandonment of the 'seduction theory', and the question is considered whether Freud was the victim of self-deception or simply a liar. . . . Read the rest here:

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