cover image SIGMUND FREUD: Pioneer of the Mind

SIGMUND FREUD: Pioneer of the Mind

Catherine Reef, . . Clarion, $19 (160pp) ISBN 978-0-618-01762-1

Reef's (John Steinbeck; Walt Whitman) piercing biography deftly interprets the life of the father of psychoanalysis and one of the most influential men of the 20th century. From the first page, the author conjures the doctor's office and analytic approach, so that readers gain a sense of what his patients experienced and Freud's underlying theories. "Like an archaeologist of the mind, Freud waited for his patient's words to reveal their hidden messages: long-lost memories and unconscious desires." The author then traces his journey from early childhood as the favorite son to his escape from the Nazis. Freud emerges as a tirelessly determined scientist committed to helping patients wrestle demons and willing to face public ridicule for his convictions. The text hits controversy head-on, illuminating the strong backlash against Freud's emphasis on sexuality in his lifetime, his belief in the importance of a psychiatrist's self-analysis as well as current criticism of his narrow focus on "upper-middle-class European women" and his "assumption that his patients' memories of childhood abuse were imagined." Reef distills Freud's theories into comprehensible descriptions and combines a wealth of primary source material and idiosyncratic details to demonstrate his intellect, character and personality (e.g., to convey his devotion to his wife and six children, "Freud came home to eat lunch with the family every day, unless they were having chicken or cauliflower, two foods he hated"). Archival photographs and prints round out this compelling portrait of the scientist who forever changed society's view of the human mind. Ages 10-up. (May)