FREUD'S VIENNA AND OTHER ESSAYS by Bruno Bettelheim

FREUD'S VIENNA AND OTHER ESSAYS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Eighteen pieces of varying length and weight--essays, book reviews, lectures--from the estimable files (reaching back to the 1950's) of the wise, no-nonsense authority on psychoanalysis, child development, and abnormal psychology (A Good Enough Parent, Freud and Man's Soul, etc.). The first of three sections presents thoughts ""On Freud and Psychoanalysis."" The title essay persuasively gives Vienna's fin de si‚cle atmosphere--preoccupied with sex, death, and hysteria--some credit for Freud's discoveries, though a few of Bettelheim's connections here seem strained. (The Emperor's deteriorating power ""may have inspired Freud to develop the idea that the ego was not master in its house. . ."") There's also a charming memoir about Bettelheim's own discovery of psychoanalysis--plus sharp dissections of the Sabina Spielrein affair (Jung comes off badly) and of Ernest Jones' official Freud biography (which Bettelheim finds self-serving and lacking in crucial contexts). Section II, ""On Children and Myself,"" offers somewhat blander fare: reflections on museums (they should evoke wonder above all), on the unrealized potential of movies, on the effects of TV on children. (Bettelheim is far less worried about TV violence than about the TV as a substitute for parenting.) And the final section, ""On Jews and the Camps,"" includes profiles of Holocaust heroes and victims--followed by ""Freedom from Ghetto Thinking,"" in which Bettelheim, on familiar but always controversial ground, attributes the Holocaust in part to the ""inertia"" of ghetto-ized Jews who had already surrendered their dignity and assertiveness. Minor Bettelheim--many of the subjects are taken up more fully elsewhere--but always impressive and often provocative.

Pub Date: Jan. 8th, 1989
ISBN: 0679731881
Publisher: Knopf