Dr. Freud: A Life

Paul Ferris, Author
Paul Ferris, Author Counterpoint LLC $30 (464p) ISBN 978-1-887178-72-3
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When a British edition of Freud's The Psychopathology of Everyday Life appeared in 1914, a London magazine described him as ""the Sherlock Holmes of the Mind."" Ferris, a Welsh novelist and biographer, approaches his subject as a shaper of 20th-century thinking who has been written about largely by his disciples as well as his rivals. Followers employed obfuscation to camouflage his flaws, while enemies emphasized his failings and the concepts that flunked the test of time, according to Ferris. On his part he sees Freud as a heroic but devious researcher who invented what he could not prove about the riddles of repression and conflict. His biography pauses here and there to reject familiar stories as fables or to label theories that do not hold up as ""dangerously speculative."" To Ferris, the most unworthy act by the popularizer of the incest motive in human behavior is Freud's psychoanalysis of his daughter, Anna, between 1918 and 1924. Whatever it did for either of them--and she would become an analyst herself--it ""extinguished"" Anna's ""potential for loving a man."" Ferris considers her father's psychoanalysis of her a supreme act of selfishness by someone who understood everyone else's contradictions but his own. Photos. (June)
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