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Freud and Man's Soul Paperback – Import, January 1, 1991


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Books; Reprint edition (1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140147578
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140147575
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,981,999 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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He refines the translations of Freud's work so eloquently that I actually understand it!
Amazon Customer
Bettelheim, raised in Vienna and therefore having a feel for Viennese German, fled Hitler's Austria for the U.S. and became a psychiatrist.
ifish6
This is wonderful book that anyone with even the slightest interest in Freud would do well in reading.
Harry Littell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Daniel J. Smitherman on July 9, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In Freud and Man's Soul, Bettleheim discusses example after example of mistranslations of Freud's most important concepts, mistranslations that have served to cast psychoanalysis as an objective, exlusively clinical and quantitative science. Instead, Bettleheim argues with examples that Freud was profoundly motivated by his humanism, and strongly and explicitly opposed to a merely behavioral science of psychoanalysis. He argues that in fact the persistent and profound mistranslations of Freud by his American translators can be traced in part to the unconscious desire to avoid taking any of this profound science of the soul to heart. Bettleheim thus has saved Freud's legacy from the trash can of sterile behavioral theories of clinically-minded American psychoanalysis. Among Bettleheim's more helpful discussions is in his objection to the "Ego-Id-Superego" trinity, as it is translated into English. The use of the Latin forms is not only unnecessary, as Freud was using common German pronouns, but an obstacle to understanding what Freud meant most to convey: these are parts of us, of me, and not just abstract concepts describing others. Bettleheim offers the alternative "Me-It-Over(or Upper)Me" as consistent with Freud's intent, which was in part to involve our souls, our affections, in understanding ourselves. Reading Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams suggested to me that there was much more to Freud's thought than popular culture suggests; Bettleheim has made some sense of the pervasive distortion, and how we might undermine it. Now if only someone will re-translate everything Freud wrote...
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Harry Littell on August 3, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have read many of Freud's works for years and only recently believed that I gained significant understanding. This came initially from reading Richard Wollheim's book _Sigmund Freud_. Then with both new perspective and renewed interest, I checked this book out from the library.
The first thing one notices when reading it is how articulately it is written, and the ease of understanding by which Bettelheim's prose is understood. The clarity and simplicity is wonderful and adds further support for, and credibility to, his claims.
There is no question of his passion to express his explicit concerns regarding the mistranslation of Freud's corpus. However, further benefit are his explanations of the various myths Freud drew on, how Freud constructed his vocabulary, and how Freud was motivated by love and concern for others in an eternal sense.
This is wonderful book that anyone with even the slightest interest in Freud would do well in reading. I wish I had read it first. However, now it is a valuable resource as Bettelheim's understanding of Freud is so thorough, elegant, poignant, and full of respect for this great man and thinker.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 22, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The review by D. Smitherman is dead accurate. I would add only that Bettelheim touches on how American physicians and clinicians "inserted" (to use Bettleheim's term) notions of psychoanalysis to be used as a tool for social conformity. Freud thought American culture sick and narcissistic, and didn't believe that social conformity or adaptation was an appropriate use of psychoanalysis. He also didn't believe in any requirement that professionals should be sole practitioners of psychoanalysis. In fact, he wished for an army of trained lay-people to do this work of the soul. As a consumer/survivor, that was all a revelation to me, and redemptive of Freud.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Craig Chalquist, PhD, author of TERRAPSYCHOLOGY and DEEP CALIFORNIA on December 13, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book might have been subtitled, "Retranslating Freud," because that's just what the author does with some of Freud's key terms.
I was gratified to see that "cathexis" could actually be rendered "charge" or "investment": much more consistent with how Freud uses the term. Freud was certainly a reductionist, but mistranslations of his work make him seem absolutely bloodless.
This is one of the best books on Freud I've ever read.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Charles Ashbacher HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 19, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The main theme of this book is that the ideas of Sigmund Freud have been widely misunderstood. To justify these assertions, Bettelheim lists many errors in the translation of Freud's works from German to English. German pronouns are not nearly as simple to use as the English "equivalents" and Freud's intention when using them is quite different from what his translators concluded. Since the individual's thoughts concerning themselves are so critical to Freudian thought, the difference is nontrivial.

Bettelheim cites many other errors in translation, in general where the English word denotes a much stronger interpretation than Freud intended. This is puzzling, as in some cases, the translator did not use the direct English equivalent. Bettelheim also deals in depth with the story of Oedipus, as the Oedipus complex is such an important feature of "popular" Freudian thought. The real story of Oedipus is not one about the love of one's mother, but about attempted infanticide, mistaken identity, the misinterpretation of predictions and great remorse over deadly deeds. Bettelheim argues, with a great deal of justification that Freud was not speaking about a desire to love one's mother when he describes the story.

In only a few pages, Bettelheim successfully argues that Freud is deeply misunderstood, largely due to poor translations and misunderstandings. His arguments are convincing, so if you really want to understand Freud, this is a book you must read.
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