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The Last Good Freudian Hardcover – April, 2000


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 290 pages
  • Publisher: Holmes & Meier Pub (April 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0841913951
  • ISBN-13: 978-0841913950
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,855,648 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

Soul-bearing memoirs of a woman ``born and brought up to be in psychoanalysis,'' who discovers rather late in life that writing fiction has taught her more about herself than years of psychotherapy. Webster (Sins of the Mother, 1993; Paradise Farm, 1999) was born in New York in the 1930s into a family of wealthy nonobservant Jewsher mother an abstract painter and disciple of Ashile Gorky and her father an entertainment lawyerand grew up in a segment of New York society immersed in the culture of psychiatry. ``It became, in effect, our family faith,'' she writes, noting that her anxious, temperamental mother was in therapy with a Freudian analyst five days a week for 30 years. At 14, Webster had her own therapist. Her portrait of her eccentric mother is compelling, as is her description of her own therapy-ridden adolescence. Encouraged by her first analyst to express her sexuality, she became pregnant while at Swarthmore, but her mother, seemingly nonplused, swiftly arranged for an abortion. Shortly thereafter, Webster moved back home and acquired a new therapist, the famous Kurt Eissler (founder of the Freud Archives). His views were, in Webster's words, ``archaic, patriarchal, and above all unrealistic.'' When she entered graduate school at Berkeley, another Freudian, Anna Maenchen, took over. Although Maenchen was apparently indifferent to Webster's unhappiness in her subsequent marriage, the author, by now emotionally dependent on her therapist, repeatedly turned to her over the years for help. Eventually Webster, whose writing had until then been psychoanalyses of literary texts, divorced her husband, found a new love, and took up a new line of workwriting fiction. Now, seemingly at peace with herself and bearing no resentment toward the quixotic, sometimes suicidal, very unmotherly mother whose faith in Freudian psychiatry shaped both their lives, she concludes, ``The great thing about being human is that you can recreate yourself, not by analyzing but by active imagining. A difficult family isn't fate.'' A fresh take on the poor-little-rich-girl theme, whine-free and surprisingly frank. (16 b&w photos) -- Copyright ©2000, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Brenda Webster is a freelance writer, critic, and translator and is president of PEN West. She is the author of Yeats: A Psychoanalytic Study and Blake's Prophetic Psychology , as well as the novels Sins of the Mothers and Paradise Farms .

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Pamela Webb on May 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Brenda Webster, in this beautifully written, wrenchingly poignant, and highly fascinating memoir, tells of growing up in a world where her ordinary and not so ordinary life events were, at the behest of her brilliant and wacky mother, routinely scrutinized by Freudian psychoanalyists. Her memoir reads like the very best of novels. I found myself entranced by her story, mouth open in shock, heart pounding in indignation and fighting back tears. Readers interested in memoirs, in psychoanalysis, in coming of age novels, or in cults will find this a fascinating read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dorothy Gilbert on June 15, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The author of this absorbing, near-tragic, in places hilarious memoir was born into a family possessing nearly every advantage: great wealth, intellectual brilliance, artistic talent and (as photographs attest)beauty. The lives of the women of the family, however, were thrown radically off track into near wreckage by their addiction to Freudian analysis. The author was analyzed into sexual activity in her early teens,long before she was ready for it; then analyzed into a wretched marriage; then told to accept her subordinate female role as handmaiden to male genius and forget her own supposedly neurotic artistic ambitions.While Webster describes movingly the dismaying self-doubts she lived with during those years,she also mentions that she was raising three children, getting a doctorate, writing two scholarly books that got her great professional respect in high places (though she was a housewife, not an academician)and then becoming a distinctive and admired novelist. Not a bad record for a supposedly helpless, dysfunctional emotional invalid; Webster mentions her achievements in a modest,just-giving-the-news manner.In the end she says she has won a happy life, for her family and herself; it is a tough wrestle,though, and the reader feels she has earned what she achieves, in spades. The accounts of her adventures with psychiatrists are sometimes uproarious, and the reader--if at a safe distance from the analyst's couch--will surely laugh out loud.
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Format: Hardcover
Not only can Brenda Webster write beautifully, but she has an amazing story to tell. Like the best stories, it is both unique and universal. We have all been awkward teens and young adults, struggling with our sexuality, our relationships with our parents, and our confusions about what to do with our lives. We have not all been raised in a wealthy, artistic, upper eastside Jewish family surrounded, and analyzed, by famous Freudians.

I found her accounts of both beautifully described, poignant, timelessly relevant, and utterly absorbing.

I applaud her courage in writing about things that most of us are afraid to talk about - our intimate thoughts about our familes, children, relationships, and life choices. It helped me look at some of my own choices in a new and kinder way.

I was impressed by her ability to describe her own and others' foibles and imperfections with compassion and wisdom, without ever sinking into blaming or self-pity.

I couldn't put this book down - it kept me fully engaged until the final word of the epilogue, and I was sorry to see it end.
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