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The Freud Files: An Inquiry into the History of Psychoanalysis Paperback – January 23, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 450 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (January 23, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521729785
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521729789
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,027,534 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"...the book collects together all the main claims that have been leveled over the years against psychoanalysis and, more particularly, its founder..."
--John Gray, Literary Review


"...This book will be of interest to anyone concerned with debunking myths.... General readers may learn from this book as well as advanced scholars.... This book is fascinating and convincing and I took a lot of pleasure reading it..."
--Christophe Al-Saleh, University of Amiens, France, Metapsychology Online Review


"offers a fascinating look at deliberate construction of one of contemporary culture's most enduring lenses on the human condition, challenging its most fundamental assumptions and frameworks..."
--Maria Popova, Brainpickings


"...To reconstruct pyschoanalysis's arduous rise, Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen and Sonu Shamdasani in The Freud Files draw on the major revisionist works of the Freud wars by Henri Ellenberger and Frank Sulloway as well as letters made available in recent years, among them Freud's correspondence with Abraham and Sándor Ferenczi...."
--Elias Altman, Nature

Book Description

How did psychoanalysis attain its prominent cultural position? This book reconstructs the early controversies surrounding psychoanalysis and shows that rather than demonstrating its superiority, the Freudians rescripted history. This was not incidental, but formed the core of psychoanalytic theory. The Freud Files reveals how psychoanalysis is vulnerable to its past.

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Customer Reviews

2.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Iambic Reviewer on October 22, 2013
Format: Paperback
The basic premise of this very valuable book is that Freud and his followers "...rather than demonstrating [the superiority of psychoanalysis]...rescripted history", resulting in the creation of "indisputable facts" about our innate psychologies when in reality, very scanty proof was made available for any objectively scientific review during the time when psychoanalysis was presenting itself as the cure for mental disturbances.

In addition, rival methods of psychotherapy were actively dismissed with disdain and charges that those involved were possessed of "negative complexes" etc. which were fuelling their petty objections to Freud's theories.

In my view, the amount of research involved in creating this book is truly astounding and the primary material is indeed allowed to speak for itself as the blurb states.

For me, the book wasn't a light read even though the style of the authors is lucid and alive. That's because I made a point of taking my time to reflect on the quotations and any comments made about them by the authors in order to be as objective as possible.

I admit that over the years, I've never really liked most of Freud's approaches, excepting perhaps "The Psychopathology of Everyday Life" which, while useful, isn't of course viewed as a core volume of Freud's work.

My main objection to Freud is perhaps best expressed by a question attributed to his sister-in-law, Minna, when she asked him "How can you be so absurdly dogmatic?"

I also wondered over the years why C.G. Jung and his associates didn't stand up more effectively to the opprobrium heaped on him by the Freudian school. Dr. Jung even offered financial help to assist Freud's escape from the Nazi's which of course was not accepted.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sator on June 3, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The writing has been on the wall for Freud for some time now, with psychoanalysis now increasingly only being taken seriously in film theory circles (in its Lacanian guise). The astonishing thing is that people who have gone through film school are more steeped in psychoanalysis than doctors who have done psychiatry training. It is even looking as though the names Eugene Bleuler (who coined the term schizophrenia) and Jean-Martin Charcot (as in Charcot-Marie-Tooth disorder of hereditary sensorimotor neuropathy) will live on in medical circles long after Freud's memory has been buried. Likewise, phenomenological terminology from Karl Jaspers (see General Psychopathology) remains in widespread use in modern psychiatry (even though many psychiatrists are unaware of their origins), whereas Freudian terminology seems to have been systematically deleted from the modern terminological repertoire, or worse still merely banished to the realm of film theory. Likewise, psychology majors get almost no exposure to psychoanalysis, which is regarded as completely dated, especially since the evidence base favours cognitive behavioural therapies. Historians long ago discredited "psychohistory" based on psychoanalysis as being far too ridiculously speculative to the point that they now refuse to have anything to do with psychology. That means that those in film and literary criticism departments who continue to entertain psychoanalysis are increasingly looking like bizarre anachronisms, and the laughing stock of other faculties.Read more ›
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Doug Mesner on September 29, 2013
Format: Paperback
Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen looks at some of the persistent myths of psychoanalysis, and its founder, debunking a number revisionist claims. Freud maintains a charismatic appeal still -- among the dogmatic psychoanalysis true believers -- despite his countless failures, misrepresentations, and flagrant scientific dishonesty. For anybody interested in an honest appraisal of Freud and psychoanalysis, this book is a thorough, well-constructed and indispensable work.
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2 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Francis Charet on May 4, 2013
Format: Paperback
This book purports to offer readers something of an exposé of Freud, the dubious claims about his originality, and the orchestration of the so-called freudian legend by his followers and his biographer, Ernest Jones, in particular. For anyone who has followed the ongoing critique of Freud and psychoanalysis much of this is old and tired news that doesn't improve with age or repetition. In the end the book comes across to this reader as a shallow, tendentious, and largely derivative work that hardly constitutes an example of historical investigation. Freud, the history of psychoanalytic psychology, and serious readers deserve better!
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