FREUD AND HIS FATHER by Marianne Krull

FREUD AND HIS FATHER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A psychoanalysis of the ""Father of psychoanalysis."" Serious sleuthing into Freud's early life to find out why, in 1897, he suddenly abandoned a major theory on the cause of anxiety neuroses and hysteria. Prior to then, he believed his patients who told of having been sexually molested in early childhood. He felt these experiences, suppressed in the memory, were the cause of these patients' symptoms. In 1897, he suddenly announced he had been in error: they were actually recalling childhood sexual fantasies. This was the breakthrough that led to his Oedipal theory and the birth of psychoanalysis. Freud could not face the personal consequences of his earlier ""seduction"" theory, Krull concludes. He himself suffered from heart arrhythmias produced, he believed, by a neurosis. After his father's death in 1896, he suddenly felt compelled to analyze himself. In so doing, he would presumably have had to consider his father's role in contributing to his neuroses. Krull believes Freud could not consciously face the possibility that his father might have abused him sexually. This conflict precipitated an emotional tailspin that, in effect, paralyzed both his ability to think creatively and his writing hand. When he suddenly decided that childhood sexual abuse was pure fantasy, he was, says Krull, liberated from his dilemma. She pieces her theory together from a scattering of clues. After his father died, Freud had a dream in which he saw a plaque bearing the message: ""You are requested to close the eyes."" Krull thinks Freud believed this to be a message from his father not to dig too deeply into the father/son relationship. Freud also believed he had been sexually indoctrinated in some way by an elderly nursemaid who suddenly disappeared from his life when he was about 2(apple). (He later learned she had been fired for stealing from the family.) Krull believes the infant Sigmund was traumatized by the loss of his beloved caretaker, a loss that was followed by a move from the small town of Frieburg to Vienna. And, finally, when Freud was a small boy, his father threatened to castrate him after catching him masturbating. This, says Krull, was a confusing message to a young boy who had already learned the pleasures of sex from another authority figure. Because he had been brought up as a Jew, imbued with filial piety, Freud unconsciously found it easier to throw out a theory he had spent years developing rather than investigate the dark side of his relationship with his father. All very murky stuff here, and Krull approaches the tangled skein of Freud's early life and the influence on it of Jewish mores and rituals with Teutonic ponderousness. (The German edition was published in 1979.) Only the most dedicated armchair Freudian will be able to slog through it. It will, however, give the experts plenty to discuss and debate--especially those who realize that Krull has virtually undermined the entire base on which psychoanalysis stands.

Pub Date: March 24th, 1986
Publisher: Norton