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the SelfThe Cambridge Companion to LacanThe Challenge for Psychoanalysis and PsychotherapyThe Clinical LacanThe Colonization Of Psychic SpaceThe Condition of MadnessThe Couch and the TreeThe Cruelty of DepressionThe Dissociative Mind in PsychoanalysisThe Dreams of InterpretationThe Examined LifeThe Fall Of An IconThe Freud EncyclopediaThe Freud FilesThe Freud WarsThe Fright of Real TearsThe Future of PsychoanalysisThe Gift of TherapyThe Heart & Soul of ChangeThe Knotted SubjectThe Last Good FreudianThe Letters of Sigmund Freud and Otto RankThe Mind According to ShakespeareThe Mystery of PersonalityThe Mythological UnconsciousThe Neuropsychology of the UnconsciousThe New PsychoanalysisThe Power of FeelingsThe Psychoanalytic MovementThe Psychoanalytic MysticThe Psychoanalytic Study of the ChildThe Psychoanalytic Study of the ChildThe Psychodynamics of Gender and Gender RoleThe Puppet and the DwarfThe Real World Guide to Psychotherapy PracticeThe Revolt of the PrimitiveThe Seminar of 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A Dream of Undying FameReview - A Dream of Undying Fame
How Freud Betrayed His Mentor and Invented Psychoanalysis
by Louis Breger
Basic Books, 2009
Review by James K. Luiselli, Ed.D., ABPP, BCBA
Mar 9th 2010 (Volume 14, Issue 10)

Sigmund Freud is considered the father of psychoanalysis. But does he deserve this reputation? Louis Breger, Professor of Psychoanalytic Studies at the California Institute of Technology, doesn't think so. In A Dream of Undying Fame, Breger contends that it was Freud's mentor, Josef Breuer, who actually conceived psychoanalysis as a theory and therapy. Following Freud's medical training he and Breuer developed a close professional relationship, culminating in the 1895 publication of their book, Studies in Hysteria. Hysteria, Breger writes, was a condition diagnosed in women during the nineteenth century, which by contemporary standards would qualify as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and possibly, schizophrenia. Breuer pursued hypnotism and "catharsis" as the cure for "hysterical psychosis," methods Freud embraced and practiced routinely. But over the years, Freud split from Breuer and the psychoanalytic approach that has been forged. More and more, "Freud emphasized his view of repression as a willful pushing of ideas from one's mind, whereas Breuer argued for his concept of 'hypnoid state,' which occurred automatically and unconsciously in cases of severe hysteria."

But the difference between the two men did not stem solely from divergent theorizing. Instead, Breger suggests that Freud was consumed by fame and recognition, leading him to re-cast psychoanalysis and the psychotherapeutic techniques he had honed under Breuer's tutelage. Freud eventually formulated a universal explanation of neurosis and hysteria that he attributed to sexual and oedipal conflicts. Breger finds fault with Freud's motives and behavior, concluding that, "The baleful effects of shaping psychoanalysis as a cult-like movement or cause grew out of Freud's need to be a great man."

This is not the first time a scholar has accused Freud of disingenuous practices (see, as one example, The Assault on Truth by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson). In A Dream of Undying Fame, we learn about the cultural and societal forces that shaped his thinking about psychopathology and his search for prominence within the medical community. Breger's own "analysis" of Freud is equivocal: a creative and perceptive man who nonetheless, was untrue to the scientific method and made many mistakes along the way. Whether you agree or disagree with the thesis of the book, Breger takes an intriguing look at one of the most influential thinkers in the history of psychology.

 

© 2010 James K. Luiselli

 

James K. Luiselli, Ed.D., ABPP, BCBA is a psychologist affiliated with May Institute and a private-practice clinician. Among his publications are 6 books and over 200 journal articles. He reviews books for The New England Psychologist.


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