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Unauthorized Freud: Doubters Confront a Legend Hardcover – August 1, 1998

4.4 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Amazon.com Review

Frederick Crews became a well-known critic of Freud with his previous book The Memory Wars. It was a brilliant piece of work: Crews not only knows his stuff, he's a very angry man with a mind like a serrated razorblade. No compromise position here: Freud is totally dishonest, according to Crews, and his theories are a worthless sham--but the really bad news (as set forth in Crews's analysis of the "recovered memory movement") is that to this day Freud's legacy continues to inform a "therapeutic" tradition that destroys people's lives.

Crews's own contributions to Unauthorized Freud, a collection of essays and book excerpts, are a comedown: there is something hectoring and almost desperate in his tone this time around. But he has assembled impressive materials by heavyweight contributors such as philosopher of science Adolf Grünbaum and famed MIT psychologist Frank Sulloway. Some relatively new material is exposed here in a suitably unforgiving light, including both Freud's appalling behavior in the "Dora" case and the full implications of the long-suppressed Freud-Fliess correspondence. Not to be missed is Italian philologist Sebastiano Timpanaro's polite slaughtering of the concept of a Freudian slip.

Both Crews' titles are a must-read for anyone who thinks it's obvious that Freud is one of the great men of the 20th century. It would be interesting to see a Freudian offer a full response to this new book, but Crews dispatched his earlier critics with such savagery (see his final essay in The Memory Wars) that it's doubtful anyone will raise their egos above the parapet. --Richard Farr

From Publishers Weekly

Here are 20 rigorous essays that mount a formidable critique of mainstream Freudian theory and practice, and of Freud's major cases. Whereas Freud fostered the idea of solitary, heroic discovery through his self-analysis, in reality, the authors contend, he taught his followers to replace the empirical attitude with blind loyalty and censorship, instilling in them a negative, quasi-paranoid view of rival theorists and clinicians. The contributors?among them Frank J. Sulloway, Ernest Gellner, Peter J. Swales and other noted American and European scholars in fields ranging from philosophy to neuroscience?present compelling evidence that Freud habitually and greatly exaggerated his therapeutic successes. They also cast serious doubt on new Freudians' confidence in free association as a curative tool to decipher the meaning of dreams or to reconstruct events from a patient's distant past. Freud's attempt to fit women (whom he apparently viewed as second-class humans) into his "castration-based" account of the mind is seen as having disastrous consequences, such as assumptions of "normal" female masochism or women's moral and cultural weakness. Although the book as a whole overstates its case, Crews, eminent literary critic, satirist and professor emeritus at U.C.-Berkeley, has done such an excellent job of choosing and editing the selections?all of which have been previously published, mainly in academic books and periodicals?that they form a cohesive whole, and as such put psychoanalysis squarely on the defensive. Agent, Frederick Crews.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult (August 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670872210
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670872213
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,628,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This collection of essays edited by F. Crews is devastating for S. Freud and psychoanalysis.

The essays show Freud as a fabricator of his patients's confessions, a liar, a cheat, a ruthless censor, a myth creator (about himself), a paranoiac, an icy remorseless opportunist, a jealous and imperious character full of a priori's, a megalomaniac, an impostor, a tyrant and a misogynist ('the self-evident superiority of male to female sex organs'; 'civilisation was a male creation.')

He projected his own obsessions in his patients and in his analytical writings; e.g. his book 'Leonardo da Vinci and a Memory of his Childhood' reviewed by D.E. Stannard.

He could himself not show one singe validated psychoanalytical cure! More, he was even not interested in cures: 'I prefer a student ten times more than a neurotic.'

His pseudoscience yielded pseudo-evidence. The basic method of psychoanalysis ('free associations') is torpedoed by the esaays of Adolf Grunbaum and Sebastiano Timpanaro.

Freud turned the dreams, symptoms, errors, memories and associations of his patients into spurious links, like between (F. Ciolli) 'defloration and migraine, birth pangs and appendicitis, pregnancy wishes and hysterical vomiting, pregnancy fears and anorexia, accouchement and a suicidal leap, castration fears and obsessive preoccupation with hat tipping, masturbation and the practice of squeezing blackheats, the anal theory of birth and hysterical constipation, parturition and a falling cart-horse, unwed motherhood and a limp, guilt over the practice of seducing pubescent girls and the compulsion to sterilize bank notes before passing them on, etc.'

As Karl Kraus said (quoted in this book): 'psychoanalysis is itself the illness which it claims to cure.'

After these mind-boggling essays psychoanalysis as a science is clinically dead.

This book is a formidable accusatory and a must read.
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Format: Paperback
Frederick Crews, all protestations aside, is one of the more flamboyant of the "Freud bashers." If you have any expectations that this book represents an impartial approach to Freud and his method, such phrases as "Freudolotry" and "intellectual megalomania" will soon set you right. Yet, in spite of Crews' somewhat ranting editorial style, there are quite a few bright spots in this collection.

Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen's chapter on "Anna O" is a concise account of how Freud's first therapeutic triumph (the famous case of Bertha Pappenheim), was nothing of the sort. Bertha was actually the patient of Freud's teacher, Josef Breuer. Borch-Jacobsen, in his review of Breuer's discussion of Bertha, reveals that nowhere does Breuer claim that psychoanalysis helped her. On the contrary, Bertha continued to suffer from "hysterical" stomach pains for many years after Freud pronounced her "cured" (most likely because the pain had more to do with her gallbladder than with her state of mind).

Subsequent chapters followed the same line of argument. Taken as a group, these chapters provide damning evidence that Freud's methods certainly did not produce the "cures" he claimed, and that the "data" he derived from his patients was essentially a product of his own imagination. Allen Esterson, in his examination of the "Dora" case, reveals that Freud coerced, cajoled and bullied his patient until she finally abandoned treatment. (Reading Freud's attempts to convince the poor girl that she was in love with a man who was attempting to molest her, one can only feel outrage.) Given the fact that Dora never conceded to Freud, he could hardly count her as a therapeutic "sucess.
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By A Customer on March 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
A brilliant book -- and a 'must' purchase for anyone who pretends to (or anyone who wants to) "know" the "real Freud". The clarity of the writing -- see especially Crews' "Introduction" -- is like a refreshing, cool glass of clear water cutting through the turgid tangle which Freud hoped noone would ever have the patience to unwind.
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Format: Paperback
If you make a large number of predictions, and if you word them loosely enough, you will make a large number of correct predictions. You will then be regarded by many as a "seer," and you will attract a large number of innocents called followers. If you make a large number of statements or claimed observations, and if you word them with enough vagarious terms, you will make a large number of statements that will be accepted as true. You will then be regarded by many as imperious, a true intellectual. These and similar deceptive postures rely on the mathematical fact that a small percentage of a large number is a large number. This very simple mathematical principle underlies the successes of religions and of other dogma, including of course many of the dogmata of many so-called intellectual professions - fields such as sociology, economics, psychology, and especially psychiatry, where little by way of scientific approaches are ever practiced. Also, in these fields, one too often finds the error of regarding an implication as being equivalent to its converse; example: most alcoholic children have alcoholic parents, so most alcoholic parents will have alcoholic children. Result for psychiatry: look "deeply" into the patient's childhood (or even pre-birth) for explanations of almost any behavior.
This book is the brainchild of Frederick Crews, who clearly doesn't suffer fooleries lightly and is a longtime critic of Freud and his followers. He assembled this compendium, a full score of essays by a wide range of authors who are scholars of Freud and his influences, and the essays are grouped and framed with overviews by the incredibly erudite Crews. The list of these contributors is impressive.
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