Freud and His Father

Marianne Krull, Author, Arnold J. Pomerans, Translator W. W. Norton & Company $18.95 (294p) ISBN 978-0-393-01854-7
Freud initially believed that people's neuroses were the direct result of their having been sexually seduced by parents or other caretakers in childhood. Later he renounced this view, claiming that patients' professed memories of such traumas were fantasies. Yet many people are sexually abused or seduced as children. So why did Freud turn away from the ""seduction theory'' when it held such promise? University of Bonn professor Krull contends that Freud's father, Jacob, passed down to the founder of psychoanalysis an unspoken taboo against delving into his own past. Shortly after Jacob died, guilt-torn Sigmund switched from the seduction theory to the Oedipus complex. Krull's hypothesis hinges on the ``massive guilt feelings'' that Jacob, an Orthodox Jew, presumably experienced when he became assimilated. Or was it Jacob's secret masturbation, or his marriage to a much younger woman, that burdened him with guilt? Krull doesn't have a clear idea, and her rash psychoanalyzing of father and son is built largely on conjecture. She attacks Jeffrey Masson's The Assault on Truth, which, she claims, portrayed Freud as ``a liar craving fame,'' but this psychobiography offers little more than occasionally plausible speculation. (February 24)
Reviewed on: 07/01/1986
Release date: 07/01/1986
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