In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Book Reviews 129 Freud's Jewish Identity: A Case Study in the Impact of Ethnicity, by Jerry Victor Diller. Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1991. 243 pp. $38.50. The author of Freud's jewish Identity begins his thesis with the sentence that "The history of psychoanalysis is inextricably bound up with the ethnic identity of its founder, Sigmund Freud." Such a synthesis or, depending on one's viewpoint, contamination has been a point of contention since the dawn of psychoanalysis. This book is representative of the plethora of biographical and psychohistorical volumes of recent vintage on Freud, with particular reference to the nature of his ethnoreligious identity and its influence on his work. Among the contributors to this theme, there is no consensus as to the affinity between his Jewishness and psychoanalysis. For example, Freud's atheism was perceived a central contribution in Hans Kling's Freud and the Problem ofGod (1990). Peter Gay, describing Freud as an imperious atheist in A Godlessjew (1987), did not consider Judaism as essential to the conception of psychoanalysis. Emanuel Rice, in Freud andMoses: The Longjourney Home (1990), asserts that the eady upbringing in a traditional Jewish household and the lifelong cultural affiliation with Jews played a formative cole in the genesis of Freud's psychological theorizing. Yosef Yerushalmi's emphasis in Freud's Moses: judaism Terminable and Interminable (1991) is on the struggle with the incomplete suppression of Jewish identity and tradition, transposed into the guise of a universal inner conflict and cast into a "scientific" discovery of identity formation. In Freud's jewish Identity, a case study approach, psychologist Jerry Diller utilizes biographies, anecdotes, and correspondence to tease out aspects of Freud's exposure toJewish influences in his family of origin and in subsequent extrafamilial experiences. In this fashion, he lays the foundation for Freud's identification with Jewry, although a most ambivalent one, and for the chiefly unconscious forces which shaped the formulation of a "Jewish science" of the mind. The book is organized into seven chapters of which the first three deal with the dynamics and politicS of minority ethnicity, particulady that of the assimilated Jews in Vienna of a hundred years ago. The remaining chapters explicate these psychosocial observations with an analysis of Freud's life course. Much emphasis is placed on the attempts to distance himselffrom his origins in the religious sphere in order to achieve renown through the universalization of his discoveries against the backdrop ofa skeptical and often hostile non-Jewish wodd. By way of a detailed reinterpretation of Freud's self-analysis and 130 SHOFAR Spring 1994 Vol. 12, No.3 from disclosures in correspondence with Jewish confidants, Diller traces the vicissitudes of Freud's coexisting attraction and aversion to Judaism. Named Schlomo Sigismund at his b'rith mila, Freud grew up in the Galician Jewish household of an older father and a mother twenty years younger than her husband. Although the parents had been reared Orthodox, assimilationist trends manifested themselves in the parents despite some attachment to traditional practices. Moreover, there were influences from the Gentile culture, particularly a nanny but also the prevailing antisemitism, which made an impression on the growing boy's self-image and on his attitude toward an increasingly passive father. As a means of coping with clashing loyalties and their mental representation, the young Freud transmuted the "family romance" of his childhood into a psychosexual theory of emotional development. Diller points out that Freud's unconscious use of his own family configuration and functioning led him to put the Oedipus complex at the center of his psychoanalytic ideas about intra-psychic conflict. As a firstborn son, who was his mother's favorite, the young boy's ambitions contrasted sharply with the father's perceived weakness to the point of profound disappointment. Because this relationship pattern was a stereotypical family portrait for Jewish households of the time as compared to families from the surrounding society, the universality ofFreud's psychodynamic theorizing has come to be subject to criticism. Thus, the accusation against psychoanalysis being a "Jewish national affair" was not completely without foundation. Although Freud chose to reject all traditional practices and beliefs, he remained outwardly steadfast in...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5165
Print ISSN
0882-8539
Pages
pp. 129-131
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.