Freud: The Making of an Illusion

Frederick Crews. Metropolitan, $40 (768p) ISBN 978-1-62779-717-7
With his typical rapier wit and swaggering prose, Crews (Follies of the Wise) reveals that the emperor of psychoanalysis is wearing no clothes. In exhaustive and sometimes repetitious detail, he lays out a stunning indictment of Sigmund Freud. Crews illustrates Freud’s tendency to rush to judgment by describing how, early on, Freud developed a promising but ultimately flawed slide-staining method; hurrying to report his findings, Freud failed to disclose the method’s flaws, a pattern he would repeat throughout his life. During the 1880s, he tried, disastrously, to wean patients off of morphine with cocaine. With this treatment and the papers he wrote about it, Freud developed a habit of “failing to pursue an inquiry to its logical end” and “cutting as many corners as he could.” In his later work, such as his Studies on Hysteria, Freud wrote case histories that read more like mystery stories than scientific reports; Crews intriguingly notes that Freud was a Sherlock Holmes devotee and suggests that the psychoanalyst may have been emulating the fictional sleuth. This drawn-out but fascinating biographical study paints a portrait of Freud as a man who cared more about himself than his patients and more about success than science. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/26/2017
Release date: 08/22/2017
Paperback - 784 pages - 978-1-250-18362-0
Compact Disc - 978-1-5384-2751-4
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