email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
"Are You There Alone?""How Come Boys Get to Keep Their Noses?""My Madness Saved Me"10% Happier365 Days49 Up56 UpA Beautiful MindA Beautiful MindA Beautiful MindA Book of ReasonsA Can of MadnessA Child's Life and Other StoriesA Dangerous LiaisonA Fight to BeA First-Rate MadnessA Good Enough DaughterA Heartbreaking Work of Staggering GeniusA Lethal InheritanceA Lethal InheritanceA Life ShakenA Life Worth LivingA Little PregnantA Message from JakieA Million Little PiecesA Numerate LifeA Pocket History of Sex in the Twentieth CenturyA Slant of SunA Special EducationA Tribe ApartAbout FaceAddicted Like MeADHD & MeAEIOUAgainst Medical AdviceAgents in My BrainAileen - Life and Death of a Serial KillerAlgernon, Charlie and IAll Out!All Seasons PassAlphavilleAlways Too Much And Never EnoughAlzheimer'sAn Anthropologist on MarsAn EducationAn Unquiet MindAngela's AshesAngelheadAnna Freud: A BiographyAnnie's GhostsAnother Bullshit Night in Suck CityAnthology of a Crazy LadyApples and OrangesApproaching NeverlandAre You There, Vodka? It's Me, ChelseaAs I Live and BreatheAs Nature Made HimAt Home in the Heart of AppalachiaAt the End of WordsAvalancheBad BoyBad GirlBeautiful BodiesBeautiful BoyBeautiful WreckBecause We Are BadBecoming AnnaBecoming MyselfBen Behind His VoicesBequest and BetrayalBereftBertrand RussellBlackoutBlanketsBloodlettingBodies in Motion and at RestBoneBorn on a Blue DayBoyBoy AloneBoyleBrain on FireBreaking ApartBreaking the SilenceBrokenBulimics on BulimiaBuzzCamus and SartreCharles DarwinChasing the HighCheeverCherryCity of OneCluesClumsyComfortComplications Compulsive ActsConfessions of a Cereal EaterConfessions of a Former ChildConfessions of a Grieving ChristianConfessions of the Other MotherConfidingConquering the Beast WithinContesting ChildhoodCrackedCrazyCry Depression, Celebrate RecoveryDamned to EternityDancing at the Shame PromDante's CureDaughter of the Queen of ShebaDavid Sedaris Live at Carnegie HallDays With My FatherDefeating the VoicesDementia Caregivers Share Their StoriesDepression and NarrativeDescartesDetourDevil in the DetailsDiagnosis: SchizophreniaDirty DetailsDirty SecretDivided MindsDivine MadnessDon't Get Too ComfortableDown Came the RainDress Your Family in Corduroy and DenimDrinkingDriving My FatherDrunkardDryEarly Embraces IIIEarly ExposuresEinsteinEinstein and OppenheimerElectroboyElegy for IrisElijah's CupElliott Smith and the Big NothingElsewhereEnough About YouEpilepticEvery Girl Tells a StoryEverything In Its PlaceExamined LivesExiting NirvanaFaces of Huntington'sFamily BoundFast GirlFearless ConfessionsFind MeFinding Iris ChangFirst Person Accounts of Mental Illness and RecoveryFirst Person PluralFixing My GazeFlanneryFolie a DeuxFor the Love of ItFortress of My YouthFrank Ramsey (1903-1930)Franz KafkaFraudFree RefillsFreudFreudFreudFriedrich NietzscheFrom Joy Division to New OrderFumblingFun HomeFuriously HappyGalileo Get Me Out of HereGetting OffGirl in Need of a TourniquetGirl Walking BackwardsGirl, InterruptedGirl, InterruptedGirls on the VergeGoing BlindGoing Through Hell Without Help From AboveGraysonGrowing Up JungGuttedHalf a Brain Is EnoughHardcore from the HeartHead CasesHeal & ForgiveHeal & Forgive IIHeavier than HeavenHeinz KohutHeinz KohutHello from Heaven!Hello to All ThatHer HusbandHer Last DeathHigh PriceHole in My LifeHolidays On IceHolidays on IceHope's BoyHouse of Happy EndingsHouse of Happy EndingsHow I Stayed Alive When My Brain Was Trying to Kill MeHow to Lose Friends & Alienate PeopleHow to Make Love Like a Porn Starhow to stop timeHumeHunger Makes Me a Modern GirlHurry Down SunshineI Am Dynamite!I Am I Am I AmI Feel Bad About My NeckI Never Promised You a Rose GardenI Remain in DarknessI'd Rather Eat ChocolateI'd Rather LaughIf I Die Before I WakeImagining RobertIn Search of FatimaIn the Realms of the UnrealIn the Wake of SuicideInside TherapyInternInvisible No MoreIt Happened to NancyIt Takes a Worried ManJack Cole and Plastic ManJean-Paul SartreJohn Stuart MillJourneys with the Black DogJust CheckingKafkaKantLa SierraLab GirlLast Flight OutLearning to FallLet Me Make It GoodLife As We Know ItLife InterruptedLife ReimaginedLimboLincoln's MelancholyListening in the Silence, Seeing in the DarkLittle PeopleLive For Your Listening PleasureLive Through ThisLiving in the Shadow of the Freud FamilyLiving With SchizophreniaLiving with SchizophreniaLockeLonelyLong ShotLook Me in the EyeLooking for The StrangerLoose GirlLosing Mum and PupLosing My MindLove Is a Mix TapeLove SickLove Times ThreeLove Works Like ThisLove You, Mean ItLuckyLudwig WittgensteinLyingMad HouseMad PrideMadame ProustMadnessMagical ThinkingMalignant SadnessManicMarcel ProustMarcus AureliusMary BarnesMaverick MindMaybe You Should Talk to SomeoneMe Talk Pretty One DayMeaningMelanie KleinMemoirMemoirs of an Addicted BrainMemoirs of My Nervous IllnessMen-ipulationMisconceptionsMiss American PieMockingbird YearsMomma and the Meaning of LifeMommies Who DrinkMonkey MindMore, Now, AgainMortificationMy Age of AnxietyMy Body PoliticMy Brain Tumour AdventuresMy DepressionMy Father's HeartMy First Cousin Once RemovedMy Flesh and BloodMy Horizontal LifeMy Life Among the Serial KillersMy Sister LifeMy Stroke of InsightName All the AnimalsNeural MisfireNever EnoughNietzscheNietzsche: The Man and His PhilosophyNinety DaysNo Apparent DistressNo Hurry to Get HomeNo Impact ManNo More ShavesNo One Cares About Crazy PeopleNolaNotebooks 1951-1959NothingOdd Girl Speaks OutOedipus WreckedOf Spirits & MadnessOn Being RapedOn the Edge of DarknessOn the MoveOne Hour in ParisOne Hundred DaysOphelia SpeaksPagan TimePassing for NormalPeople Who Eat DarknessPerfect ChaosPerfect ExamplePermanent Present TensePersepolisPlanet of the BlindPlaying with FirePlease Don't Kill the FreshmanPoisoned LovePollockPOPismPortraits of Huntington'sPoster ChildProzac DiaryPsychiatrist on the RoadPsychosis in the FamilyPuppy Chow Is Better Than ProzacQuitting the Nairobi TrioRaising BlazeReasons to Stay AliveRebuiltRecovered, Not CuredRelative StrangerRescuing JeffreyRestricted AccessRevengeRewind, Replay, RepeatRichard RortyRiding the Bus With My SisterRobert Lowell, Setting the River on FireRoom For JRosemaryRough MagicRunning After AntelopeRunning with ScissorsRXScattershotSchizophreniaSchopenhauerSecond OpinionsSectionedSeeing EzraSeeing the CrabServing the ServantSet the Boy FreeSex & Single GirlsSex ObjectShakespeareShe Bets Her LifeShe Got Up Off the CouchShut the DoorSickenedSilencing the VoicesSimone de BeauvoirSinging in the FireSkin GameSlackjawSlut!SmashedSome Assembly RequiredSome Kind of GeniusSometimes Amazing Things HappenSometimes Madness Is WisdomSongs from the Black ChairSongs of the Gorilla NationSoren KierkegaardSpeak to MeSpeaking Our Minds: Revised EditionSpecial SiblingsSpentStandbyStick FigureStill LivesStretchSunset StorySurviving OpheliaSwing LowTales from Both Sides of the BrainTales of PsychotherapyTalk to HerTell Me Everything You Don't RememberTellingTelling Tales About DementiaThe Accidental BillionairesThe AddictThe Anatomy of HopeThe Anti-Romantic ChildThe Art of MisdiagnosisThe Bastard on the Couch CDThe BeastThe Bell JarThe Best Seat in the HouseThe Big FixThe Body SilentThe Boy on the Green BicycleThe Boy Who Loved Too MuchThe Boy Who Loved WindowsThe Bright HourThe Buddha & The BorderlineThe Burn JournalsThe Camera My Mother Gave MeThe Cancer Monologue ProjectThe Center Cannot HoldThe Chelsea WhistleThe Churkendoose AnthologyThe Day the Voices StoppedThe Devil WithinThe DisappearanceThe Discomfort ZoneThe Doctor Is InThe Eden ExpressThe Family GeneThe Family SilverThe Farm Colonies: Caring for New York City's Mentally Ill In Long Island's State HospitalsThe Fasting GirlThe First Man-Made ManThe First TimeThe Geography of BlissThe Glass CastleThe Good DoctorsThe Hillside Diary and Other WritingsThe Incantations of Daniel JohnstonThe Infidel and the ProfessorThe Last AsylumThe Last Good FreudianThe Last Time I Wore a DressThe Liars' ClubThe Lives and Loves of Daisy and Violet HiltonThe Lives They Left BehindThe LobotomistThe Long GoodbyeThe Looked After Kid: Memoirs from a Children's HomeThe Loony-Bin TripThe Madness of Our LivesThe Making of a PhilosopherThe Making of Friedrich NietzscheThe Man Who Couldn't EatThe Man Who Shocked the WorldThe Man Who Tasted ShapesThe Marvelous Hairy GirlsThe Maximum Security Book ClubThe Me in the MirrorThe Memory PalaceThe Mercy PapersThe Mistress's DaughterThe Mother of Black HollywoodThe Naked Bird WatcherThe Naked Lady Who Stood on Her HeadThe Neuroscientist Who Lost Her MindThe Night of the GunThe Noonday DemonThe Notebook GirlsThe NursesThe Only Girl in the CarThe Only Girl in the WorldThe Orchid ThiefThe Other HollywoodThe OutsiderThe Philosopher's Autobiography The Philosophical Breakfast ClubThe Philosophical IThe Pits and the PendulumThe Pornographer's GriefThe Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner The Professor and the MadmanThe Psychopath TestThe Quiet RoomThe Quiet RoomThe RecoveringThe Red DevilThe Rescue of Belle and SundanceThe Ride TogetherThe Rules of the TunnelThe Secret of LifeThe Shaking Woman or A History of My NervesThe Shared HeartThe Shiniest JewelThe Siren's DanceThe Statistical Life of MeThe Story of My FatherThe Strange Case of Hellish NellThe Summer of a DormouseThe SurrenderThe Talking CureThe Thought that CountsThe Three of UsThe Undoing ProjectThe Vagina MonologuesThe Velveteen FatherThe Winter of Our DisconnectThe Woman Who Walked into the SeaThe Years of Silence are PastThe Yellow HouseThe Yipping TigerThick As ThievesThinThis Close to HappyThomas S. SzaszTiger, TigerTits, Ass, and Real EstateTo Redeem One Person Is to Redeem the WorldTo Walk on EggshellsTransforming MadnessTrue CompassTruth & BeautyTruth Comes in BlowsTuesdays with MorrieTweakTwitch and ShoutUltimate JudgementUndercurrentsUnholy GhostUnlikelyVoices of AlcoholismVoices Of Alzheimer'sVoices of CaregivingVoices of RecoveryVoluntary MadnessWaiting for DaisyWar FareWashing My Life AwayWastedWaveWe're Going to Need More WineWe're Not MonstersWeather Reports from the Autism FrontWeekends at BellevueWhat Did I Do Last Night?What Goes UpWhat I Learned in Medical SchoolWhat's Normal?When a Crocodile Eats the SunWhen Breath Becomes AirWhen Do I Get My Shoelaces Back?.....When It Gets DarkWhen the Piano StopsWhen You Are Engulfed in FlamesWhere Did It All Go Right?Where is the Mango Princess?Where the Roots Reach for WaterWhile the City SleptWhile They SleptWho Was Jacques Derrida?Why I Left, Why I StayedWhy I'm Like ThisWildWill's ChoiceWinnicottWinnieWish I Could Be ThereWith Their EyesWomen Living with Self-InjuryWomen, Body, IllnessWrestling with the AngelYou All Grow Up and Leave MeYou Must Be DreamingYour Voice in My HeadZeldaZor
The book before us could be subtitled The Loves and Labors of Miss Anna Freud. It is a second edition of the biography originally published in 1988. It is longer (545 pages) than the first edition (527 pages). Reading this book requires a good knowledge of basic psychoanalytic literature. The author is an eminent intellectual, as well as a practicing psychoanalyst. What we get here is detailed, meticulous, and erudite descriptions of every aspect of her subject's life, together with a large cast of supporting characters and extras. Sigmund Freud is a supporting character here, but his weight is never underestimated and all events occur under his shadow. This is naturally one of main topics. Young-Bruehl's lucid style helps immensely when clarifying many theoretical discourses, such as the fine points of the 1940s dispute between Anna Freud and Melanie Klein. The author also offers psychoanalytic interpretations of her subject: "the most obvious manifestations of her unresolved father-complex" (p. 185). Later, this "father complex was no longer conflictive" (p. 188).
Anna Freud (1895-1982) was the youngest of Sigmund Freud's six children, and the only one among them who made psychoanalysis her life's work. Anna entered psychoanalysis with her father in 1918, published her first paper on psychoanalysis in 1922, and started practicing as a psychoanalyst in 1923. Sigmund Freud was diagnosed with cancer of the jaw in 1923, and during his sixteen years of illness Anna tended her father, and took over many of his functions as he became less able to take care of things. She became General Secretary of the International Psychoanalytic Association and director of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Training Institute. The Freud family fled Austria for England in the summer of 1938, following the Nazi takeover of Austria. Anna lived for the rest of her life in London, and became more and more involved in the psychological treatment of children. She was more of a practitioner than a theorist, and most of her ideas about personality dynamics came, she claimed, from her observations of children. Anna Freud had intellect, knowledge, energy, ideas, ideals, and organizational ability.
Being psychoanalyzed by one's own father would not be done today, but in those early days of psychoanalysis it was still possible, while causing quite a few murmurs of disbelief. Anna Freud simply refused to discuss this chapter in her biography (Chapter 3 in this volume), while she was alive. Becoming a psychoanalyst while having no formal education beyond high school would be unbelievable today, but it is to the credit of the school system in Vienna in the early twentieth century, and to her innate talents, that Anna Freud was clearly a well-educated woman, displaying impressive knowledge in several fields. Even though she never gave birth, she was always taking care of other people's children with undoubted dedication and warmth. Establishing her own separate identity was a constant challenge, and she met it to some extent thanks to the other significant relationships in her life and to the new practice of child analysis, that she helped create.
Anna Freud was among the pioneers of what has become known as psychoanalytic ego psychology. Her preference for the ego is a true reflection of her personality, with an orientation towards meeting the needs of reality before all else. Her book, The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense has certainly inspired many interesting research efforts, and will keep its place in the history of psychology, because ideas about defense mechanisms are one part of psychoanalysis that has been taken up by many academic psychologists.
In addition to the qualities which made her an outstanding worker, she was also capable of love and committed friendships, and this is amply demonstrated in the biography. The author manages to persuade us that there is indeed something special about feminine friendships. Of Anna Freud's many maternal female friendships, Young-Bruehl writes: "The needs expressed to and through these many women were more complex than the needs to love and be like a man that were filled by Freud and Freud only" (p. 459). Another judgment by the biographer is that "her thoughts reflect her bisexual constitution" (p. 461). The most important relationship in Anna Freud's life after that with her father was her life partnership with Dorothy Burlingham (nee Tiffany, daughter of the famous designer), a wealthy American who came to Vienna seeking help for her troubled children, and with whom she shared her life after 1927. Dorothy Burlingham was at one point also analyzed by Sigmund Freud, and eventually became a training analyst. Dorothy's children were analyzed by Anna Freud. There have been speculations about the sexual side of the relationship between Anna Freud and Dorothy Burlingham, but Young-Bruehl tells us decisively that Ann Freud had a "chaste life" (319).
This biography is consciously presented as part of a wider project, that of writing the history of psychoanalysis, and of continuities and discontinuities in psychoanalytic theories and practices, and should be read in this wider context. The author uses the terms "science" and "scientific" hundreds of times in this book, and you don't need to be a psychoanalyst to think that this may reflect defensiveness. She refers to the "histories of scientific revolutions", Newton, and Einstein (p. 455) in describing the generational dynamics of the movement.
When referring to Anna Freud's legacy, she writes"but it has been modernized. Little of the Freudian language of instinctual drives remains, although respect for the unconscious and its power is everywhere in combination with the Winnicottian attention to mother-child relations and with much attention to attachment theory, which originated with John Bowlby" (p. 12). This paragraph gives us a good summary of historical transitions in mainstream psychoanalysis, but should lead us to one major issue that the book never raises. The questions we are left with at the end have to do with the evolution of psychoanalysis. Why do certain ideas become acceptable? Is it a matter of rhetoric, charisma, or zeitgeist? What is the evidence needed to change minds in this field? What is the logic of change or "progress" or "modernization" in psychoanalysis, as Young-Bruehl sees it? Anna Freud thought, according to Young-Bruehl, that only more research could determine the correct answers in disputes among psychoanalysts, such as the one between herself and Melanie Klein. The question is only how do we do such research.
Young-Bruehl expresses throughout the book an unshaken confidence in what she describes as a science in progress, and she has her own ideas about its future course. She writes: "In the domain of female psychology and in the domain of homosexuality, psychoanalysis had been substantially reformed, but further reform in Freud's theory and technique had been needed, and more responsive—more "relational" ways of listening to patients had been needed"( p. 10).
We never see the use of the expression "reformed" in discussions of progress in physics, but it is proper here, because the changes Young-Bruehl refers to have not been the result of systematic research findings, but of political-cultural changes. The case of homosexuality and psychoanalysis deserves to be looked at. As Young-Bruehl tells us, Anna Freud, with her "unreformed" views on the subject, regarded homosexuality as something that should and could be cured. She described the dynamics of homosexuality in terms of "phallic narcissism", identification, and projection, all tied to early childhood experiences. Such ideas are not likely to be used by psychoanalysts today, not because they have been investigated and found wanting, but because homosexual organizations in the United States have used their political muscle skillfully to remove homosexuality from the realm of psychiatric diagnosis. Biological research in recent years has taught us that homosexuality, like other persistent behavioral orientations, is related to genetic and hormonal factors, and has made psychoanalytic theorizing simply irrelevant. Thus, progress in biological psychiatry has been pushing psychoanalytic ideas to the wayside, but mainstream psychoanalysis, as presented in this book, prefers to ignore that.
Psychoanalysis started its life outside the academic world and has remained there. It is called here often a science, but looks to this reader quite clearly as a social movement guided by a utopian vision. Young-Bruehl states that some psychoanalysts felt as if their movement was "the only hope for humankind's better future" (p. 455). Reading this book, one comes to realize that this view was quite common or even dominant, and that even Young-Bruehl seems to share it. Despite the author's intentions and her idealized view of psychoanalysis as an investigative and intellectual enterprise, the picture that emerges in the book is of social-political-utopian movement, reflecting its origins in 19th century Central Europe. Developments in this movement have often been intensely personal, and the interactions typical of an extended family.
Psychoanalysts seem to be, as a group, highly talented, intellectual, types, and psychoanalysis has clearly been an inspiration and a stimulus for many brilliant minds. This does not mean that these ideas should be taken seriously without reflection and without evidence. The issue is that of evaluating the validity of psychoanalytic theories about human behavior, and that of determining the efficacy of psychoanalytic treatment techniques. The value of psychoanalytic ideas does not depend on the personal lives of those who developed it. Whether Sigmund Freud had sex with his sister-in-law or whether Anna Freud had sex with Dorothy Burlingham is totally irrelevant to the value, and to the validity, of their ideas. These have to be judged on their merits.
© 2009 Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi
Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi is professor of psychology at the University of Haifa. Among his publications: The Psychology of Religious Behaviour, Belief and Experience and Psychoanalysis, Identity, and Ideology: Critical Essays on the Israel/Palestine Case.