Yet another critique of the failings of the father of psychoanalysis--but a very good one. Sagan (The Origins of...

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FREUD, WOMEN, AND MORALITY: The Psychology of Good and Evil

Yet another critique of the failings of the father of psychoanalysis--but a very good one. Sagan (The Origins of Individualism, Political Oppression, and the State) concentrates on the insufficiencies of Freud's theory of a patriarchal, punishing superego that commanded obedience to family and the state while suppressing erotic instincts. In doing so, Sagan delves into the recent history of Western civilization and into the Viennese culture that molded Freud and his ideas. Freud's ""dilemma"" arose from his singular inability to recall virtually anything of his infancy and early childhood: his years of maternal nurture. He therefore contendod that the moral faculty does not develop until a child is about six. In boys, it springs from an intense tear that the all-powerful father will castrate him if he is not ""good."" Freud tortuously hypothesized that girls believe they are already castrated--and long for a penis of their own. As a result, he contended that women have a ""lesser moral sense."" Sagan points out that much of one's basic character is limned in infancy and early childhood under maternal tutelage. If the nurture is loving and compassionate, the child develops a capacity to care for and promote the welfare of others despite a racist, sexist, or classist family background and/or society. At age 59, Freud pondered why he and his six children were ""such thoroughly decent human beings""--without breaking through his blindness to the importance of the mother in character development. Broader in scope, more readable, and considerably more stimulating than most books of its genre.

Pub Date: March 14, 1988

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Basic Books

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1988