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454 PAUL ROAZEN The Freudian Establishments PAUL ROAZEN Edith Kurzweil. The Freudians: A Comparative Perspective Yale University Press. 371. us $37.50 The history of psychoanalysis remains a peculiar subject. Although I know of no courses taught on it at any universities, the literature about it continues to multiply. Originally Freud himself set the contours of the field. In 1914 he published a lengthy article called 'On the History of the Psychoanalytic Movement'; its composition was occasioned by his difficulties with Carl G. Jung, and Freud took the occasion to draw a hard and fast line between his own form of psychology and that advocated by 'dissidents' in analysis like Jung and Alfred Adler. Although by now over three-quarters ofa century have passed, it is still the case that Freud has succeeded in imposing his own view of events on most people's understanding of what had happened between himself and his erstwhile followers. Neither Jung nor Adler ever chose publicly to provide much information about their sides of the respective faIlings-out with Freud. Therefore Freud's own version of things prevailed partly by default. Within the last ten years or so there have been signs that the historiographic glacier of orthodox psychoanalysis has begun to break up. Throughout the twentieth century there have been clear-eyed critics of some of the central defects in Freud's viewpoint, but his psychology has become the most powerful single influence on how we think about human motivation, and his own historiographic efforts have also held sway. Recently, however, intellectual historians have begun successfully to chip away at the mythology around Freud, and it now looks as if the subject matter of psychoanalysis may become a secure part of academic life. It will probably always be the case that practitioners of analysis will continue with amateur (and self-serving) efforts at understanding their past; but professional students of the history of ideas, with no axes to grind and without trade union advantages to defend, now seem able to make a significant dent in the field. Edith Kurzweil has set herself an ambitious task: to understand the reception of Freud's ideas in a comparative national perspective. It has long been known that the stories of analysis in England and America are very different, even though Freud's works were made available in English by translators at approximately the same time in both countries. Similarly, the tale of how Freud's ideas fared in different countries on the continent can be linked to unique national factors. Kurzweil is a sociologist and therefore in a position to take an adequately professional view of the fascinating subject she has undertaken to explore: comparing the different courses taken by practising analysts within various Western cultures. Unfortunately, the weakest part of the book comes at the beginning in part one, 'Psychoanalysis before 1945.' Here Kurzweil rehearses some stale accounts of the early days of psychoanalysis, without having anything special to contribute ofher UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY, VOLUME 59, NUMBER 3, SPRING 1990 THE FREUDIAN ESTABLISHMENTS 455 own; and she does not take seriously enough the increasing body of literature which has come to challenge Freud's own view of things. She refers at one point, for example, to Jung's 'mysticism,' and does not go any further in exploring his special contribution; when she does pause to itemize Jung's supposed 'central concepts,' she presents - in half a sentence - a hodge-podge of notions that no reader can be expected to follow, and which leads one to suspect that she does not understand them either. Adler's workis also summarily dismissed, although as in the case ofJung's writings it is impossible to understand Freud's ideas apart from the different psychologies that his 'heretics' tried to forward. While Kurzweil treats anything that Jung or Adler might have thought about with the greatest distance, a bizarre hypothesis of Freud's like the death instinct, for example, gets talked about like a fully serious proposal. Freud had some prettywild ideas, and it does not add to our knowledge to treat everything he proposed with the same straight face. Devotedas Kurzweil is to her subject, she is capable...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 454-456
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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