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Freud's Wizard: Ernest Jones and the Transformation of Psychoanalysis Hardcover – March 20, 2007

5 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In writing the life of the man who established psychoanalysis in Britain, veteran biographer Maddox (Nora: The Real Molly Bloom) gives an equally fascinating (if more familiar) picture of the early world of psychoanalysis, with its conflicting egos and theoretical battles, particularly between strict Freudians and the followers of Melanie Klein, which fiercely divided the English psychoanalytic society founded and ruled over by Ernest Jones. Maddox frames Jones's life as the story of a man whose enormous gifts finally allowed him to triumph over early disgrace. A Welshman who'd shown brilliance as a medical student, Jones (1879–1958) had to leave England in 1908 after accusations of sexual impropriety while examining several youngsters; Maddox finds the evidence in one case "damning." But Jones returned two years later to practice psychoanalysis and advocate tirelessly for it, soon becoming a member of Freud's inner circle. While one wishes for a bit more insight, Maddox wisely refrains from psychoanalyzing Jones, who took full advantage of his ability to mesmerize women before finally settling into a happy marriage, and his alternately affectionate and irritable relationship with his mentor (Jones at one point accused Freud's daughter, Anna, of being "insufficiently analyzed"; Freud in turn called Jones a lying Welshman). Perhaps Jones's greatest moment was in saving Freud and many other Jewish psychoanalysts from the Nazis. Maddox adds an important chapter to the history of psychoanalysis in this balanced and skillful biography. (Mar. 19)
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From Booklist

Acolyte, voluminous correspondent, rescuer from Nazis, and biographer of Sigmund Freud, Ernest Jones (1879-1958) was a prominent propagator of psychoanalysis to the English-speaking world. In this intriguing portrait of Jones, Maddox, the talented author of Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA (2002) as well as English literary biographies, confines psychoanalysis to a supporting role, a wise tactic considering readers' range of opinion about it. Its principles and jargon appear when central to Jones' career, such as his application of analysis to Hamlet, which became influential in literary criticism and cinematography. Maddox otherwise conducts a narrative chronology of Jones covering his youth in Wales, the end of his conventional medical career amid never-proven insinuations of improper behavior with girls, and his friendship with Freud. Drama arises in the form of Jones' female companions, including a common-law wife, two marriages, and patients professing their love; Jones was not, as Maddox observes, a man who wondered what women want. Intimately associated with the founders of psychoanalysis, the imperfect, egocentric Jones as presented here is a colorful character well worth meeting. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; 1st Da Capo Press Ed edition (March 20, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306815559
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306815553
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,034,446 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
For those interested in the history of psychoanalysis in general and Freud's inner circle in particular, Freud's Wizard is a laudable contribution to the literature. It manages to be scholarly in its attention to historical detail while at the same time, readable for the interested layperson who is not steeped in knowledge of psychoanalysis. It will especially appeal to practicing analysts and those of a psychodynamic orientation. How Ernest Jones develops his interest in Freud's new theories, joins his inner circle, and his tireless efforts in promoting both the "cause" and his own career are smoothly presented by biographer Maddox.

Despite her admitted admiration for Jones, Maddox fairly presents Jones's character weaknesses as well as his strengths. She doesn't shy away from facing some of the questionable moral indiscretions in Jones's life-both personally and professionally- nor does she paint an overly positive portrait of his motivations in dealing with colleagues, Freud, or the numerous women in his life.

As might be expected, the most interesting sections have to do with the interactions through letter and personal meetings with Freud himself and the other eminent members of Freud's inner circle. We see how a very short man who worries about overcoming his common name becomes a "true believer" in the theory and practice of psychoanalysis and is able to make a distinguished life for himself on the heels of one of the giants of his time.

Jones appears to have been the right person at the right time, attaching himself to Freud and becoming, as he liked to boast, "the pre-eminent psychoanalyst in the English-speaking world.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
[Alfred] Ernest Jones introduced Freud's psychoanalysis to North America where the technique grew. Jones was trained in neurology and just happened to encounter one of Freud's writings. At the time Freud was the target of criticism given his focus on the libido, Freud's theory of motivation being the result of the libido (aka sex drive) being sublimated. Jones, with a very mature exposure to sex in his youth, championed Freud's work with drives, beginning with the ejection of Carl Jung from Freud's inner circle as engineered by Jones, and with Jung's dilution of libido the single issue. On the surface this book covers the details of Jones' life. More important, it details conviction with respect to controversial issues about the fundamentals of being human, something that the poets over the centuries talked around but never about. Jones pinnacle was a paper that he read before the American Psychology Association on December 29, 1911, in which he commented on the education of our youth about sex - "once we stop doing wrong, maybe then we can do right".
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Format: Hardcover
FREUD'S WIZARD: ERNEST JONES AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF PSYCHOANALYSIS discusses Freud's disciple and colleague who brought the international psychoanalytic movement to London and fostered its spread to the U.S. With so many books considering both Freud's life and theory, it's satisfying to find an adjunct which details a contemporary who had a dramatic impact both on Freud's personal life and in the promotion of his theories. FREUD'S WIZARD is essential for any college-level or general-interest collection that already houses biographies and discussions of Freud: it considers the history and evolution of early psychoanalysis and the man who vastly contributed to Freud's theory's promotion.
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