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Freud: Inventor of the Modern Mind Hardcover – Deckle Edge, November 21, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0060598952 ISBN-10: 0060598956 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Eminent Lives; 1 edition (November 21, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060598956
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060598952
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.9 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #179,248 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Often referred to as "the father of psychoanalysis," Sigmund Freud championed the "talking cure" and charted the human unconscious. But though Freud compared himself to Copernicus and Darwin, his history as a physician is problematic. Historians have determined that Freud often misrepresented the course and outcome of his treatments—so that the facts would match his theories. Today Freud's legacy is in dispute, his commentators polarized into two camps: one of defenders; the other, fierce detractors.

Peter D. Kramer, himself a practicing psychiatrist and a leading national authority on mental health, offers a new take on this controversial figure, one both critical and sympathetic. He recognizes that although much of Freud's thought is now archaic, the discipline he invented has become an inescapable part of our culture, transforming the way we see ourselves. Freud was a myth-maker, a storyteller, a writer whose books will survive among the classics of our literature. The result of Kramer's inquiry is nothing less than a new standard history of Freud by a modern master of his thought.

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From Publishers Weekly

Looking closely at Freud's approach to specific patients and revisiting some of his lesser-known publications (including a vigorous campaign in support of cocaine as a mood-enhancer and anesthetic), Kramer finds in this irreverent biography a man who "displayed bad character in the service of bad science." Kramer's task is a difficult one, in large part because, in anticipation of his own legacy, Freud began destroying his personal documents at an early age. It's this kind of hubris ("as for the biographers ... we have no desire to make it too easy for them") which enabled him to hide the fact that he was "more devious and less original than he made himself out to be;" it also makes him a fascinating subject. Kramer is careful to give Freud's major contributions-including the recognition that symptoms can "reveal hints of thoughts and feelings pushed out of awareness" and that psychoanalysis's unfettered exploration of the subconscious can offer patients a haven for exploring otherwise repressed thoughts-their due. But he is unsparing in his assessment of Freud's errors in judgment: "there is a disturbing consistency in Freud's indifference to inconvenient facts. ... he bullied his patients and misrepresented his results." Kramer's study is a refreshing and thorough work that readers of all levels of familiarity with Freud's work can appreciate.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Princeton Reader on December 31, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Kramer's lucid writing style is refreshing.This small volume will give the reader a critical review of Freud's major writings. Highlights of Freud's biography add spice to the narrative. Kramer uses our contemporary knowledge in psychiatry to rediagnose some of Freud's patients.I got a deeper understanding of some of the famous cases like Anna O,Dora, the Wolf Man the Rat Man. Like many, Kramer agrees that Freuds impact on the development of the field of psychotherapy and psychological thinking have been hugh. Freud was not perfect.This book help highlight the imperfections. More than that,it helps clarify in a short space, work that took Freud years and years to develop and 23 volumes of the Standard edition to Express.Like Freud,Kramer is a very talented writer as this and his other four volumes show.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Darioz Svabodas on March 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent, objective, and readable evaluation of the work and legacy of Sigmund Freud. Those who put this in the "Freud bashing" category appear not to desire an objective evaluation of Freud as a clinician nor as a scientist: Kramer presents the reader with such in a lively and precise way. He also presents the impact that Freud's ideas had on Western culture, and it is here where the impact of Freud is beyond question. Whether this impact has been for ill or good is open to question, speaking generally or more specifically in psychiatric and psychological science.
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Format: Hardcover
Having just done a refresher on Freud's psychoanalytic theories, I thought it might be worthwhile to pick up a biography for a peek at the man behind the Oepidal curtain. I admit without shame that I chose this one off the shelf for its brevity, as I wasn't sure my passing interest would sustain me through a more exhaustive treatment. By sheer chance, Freud: Inventor of the Modern Mind turned out to be just what I was looking for - a quickly paced yet thorough synopsis of Freud's life paired with an examination of the most popular of his theories.

As I'm a bit disinclined to the Freudian approach, it was quite lovely to watch Kramer call bulls*** on case study after case study and to expose Freud's utter lack of scientific rigour. In fact, based on the historical context provided by the author (which described how treatment of the mentally ill had started, before Freud became a fad, to focus on possible hereditary influences exacerbated by environmental factors), I got the very strong impression that Freud and his sexual hangups actually managed to set psychology back about fifty years.

Kramer is careful, however, to give the devil his due, and cites the most lasting of his influences, including his popularization of such now-common terms as 'projection' and 'identification.' He also credits Freud with something that's inarguable - a sheer, breath-taking scope of vision. Whether you buy into that vision or think it's utter crap, it's hard not to be at least a little impressed by the man who dared to dream it up.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By P. Stern on October 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fluent, timely, and clear-eyed, this reassessment of Freud's life is highly recommended. With his trademark learning and elegance, Kramer dissects Freud's legacy. An up-to-date assessment of the master's contribution.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael Hoit on May 4, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Everyone should know the work of this great writer, thinker and psychologist. He did create a remarkable gateway into human unconscious conflict and its effects on normal life. This book seems easy to grasp.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By ppatches81 on June 6, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book as a required supplemental reading for a college course. Overall the book is well written and well organized.
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