Freud: Darkness in the Midst of Vision

Louis Breger, Author John Wiley & Sons $30 (480p) ISBN 978-0-471-31628-2
In a major new work on the father of psychoanalysis, Breger, Professor Emeritus of Psychoanalytic Studies at California Institute of Technology, synthesizes seminal earlier books such as Ernest Jones's four volume Life and Work of Sigmund Freud (1953) and Peter Gay's Freud: A Life for Our Time (1988), and provides a new reading of how Freud himself continually altered public and professional perceptions of himself. Breger is adept at reexamining and reinterpreting existing knowledge about Freud, such as how his entrenched pro-militarist feelings about the First World War manifested in his work; his misinformed and conservative disapproval of birth control; and his complicated view of both male and female homosexuality. In addition, Breger fairly evaluates new criticisms of the man and his work, particularly those of Freudian renegade Jeffrey Masson. Especially astute is Breger's delineation of how Freud's understanding of himself as a Jew, as well as the anti-Semitism of his times, contributed to his theories (although curiously he does not refer to any of Sander Gilman's noted work on this topic). Breger's unique contribution is an analysis of how Freud's own interpretation of his childhood ""became the prototype for his understanding everyone, a foundation that he relied on throughout his life."" Careful to situate Freud in the political, social and artistic contexts of his time, Breger has produced a provocative, well-written and up-to-date account of the life and career of one of the 20th century's most influential intellectual figures. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
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