PSYCHE by Peter Michalos

PSYCHE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Michaelos's first novel is the story--told through letters and diary entries--of Freud's treatment of his first hysteria patient- -here known as Lucy O. The young and just-married Freud (it's 1886) believes that Lucy suffers from childhood seduction by her imperious and unpleasant father; but in the treatment (through hypnosis) that he embarks upon, the ambitious young doctor has an even deeper quarry: he suspects that the repressed forces of prehistoric myth themselves are surfacing to produce the attractive young girl's hysteria. ``The patient is, in fact,'' writes Freud, ``greatly discontented with being a girl,'' and, under hypnosis, Lucy recites long passages of a poem about fleet-footed Atalanta, the mythic girl who, alone among male hunters, took part in the slaying of the Calydonian Boar. As he does his own literary research into the myth of that hunt from pre-antiquity, Freud finds himself (following Lucy's father's death in an apparent hunting accident) so drawn to his patient that he, too, seduces her--with results that will lead him later to Greece and the site of ancient Delphi, where the alluring wife of Heinrich Schliemann, discover of the ruins of ancient Troy, is working on her own archaeological dig and caring for the still-mysterious--and pregnant--Lucy. In Greece, there will be cataclysm (volcano), sex (oral), childbirth (stillborn), and lots of talk (``But we don't have time today to probe the mystery of the emergence of literature from mythology'') before Freud will at last return to Vienna and his patiently waiting wife, Martha. Akin to other recent dawn-of-psychoanalysis entertainments-- When Nietzsche Wept, The Strange Case of Mademoiselle P.--this one, struggling ambitiously to keep up its level of drama, will interest those armchair Freud-sleuths able to overlook a certain amount of woodenness (asks Mrs. Schliemann when meeting the young doctor, ```Then you subscribe completely to the Helmholtz canon of determinism and materialism?''').

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-385-42405-1
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1993