THE FREUDIANS: A Comparative Perspective by Edith Kurzweil

THE FREUDIANS: A Comparative Perspective

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In this weighty compendium of developments in Freudian psychoanalysis throughout Western Europe and the US from the turn of the century to 1985, sociologist Kurzweil, executive editor of Partisan Review, accounts for current differences in methodology by examining an array of social and cultural influences. Beginning with the earliest reception of Freud's work here and in Germany, France, England, and Austria, Kurzweil evaluates the reactions in scientific communities to psychoanalysis, thereby exposing the roots of subsequent theoretical divergences. A rereading of the minutes of early meetings, Freud's correspondence, memoirs, and other sources highlights these disparate predilections within and between psychoanalytic organizations prior to WW II; but the main investigative tool here is the secondary literature, from Ernest Jones' extensive biography to the more recent psychobiological portrait by Frank Sullowsy. The composition of these organizations--the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA) and its American offshoot (AFA), among others--and their respective positions with regard to scientific and cultural trends receive close attention. Leaving few stones unturned, the author measures the activity of Freudians in literary and critical circles, in politics, and in the feminist movement, with the roles of female adherents such as Melanie Klein and Anna Freud assessed in detail. Earlier chapters probe the first cracks in the unity of psychoanalytic thinking, which gave rise to the camps of Jung and Adler. while later ones document the entrenchment of variants within Freudian groups, such as the IPA and APA, within which issues such as the ""medicalization"" of psychoanalytic practice and ego psychology were hotly contested. In this context, the dominance in postwar French psychoanalysis of Jacques Lacan receives special attention. While lapsing on occasion into academic prose and tending to stitch sources together rather than offering a point of view, the breadth of information and Kurzweil's synthesis are invaluable. A well-documented and thorough overview.

Pub Date: Jan. 17th, 1989
ISBN: 156000956X
Publisher: Yale Univ. Press