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Secrets of the Soul: A Social and Cultural History of Psychoanalysis Paperback – August 9, 2005
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The word ambitious pops up in most reviews of Secrets of the Soul. Beyond that, theres little consensus about how successfully the author examines the impact of Freuds thinking on 20th-century life and culture. Some hail the book as a valuable addition to scholarship on psychoanalysis. Others consider it an important effort to examine Freuds work in a cultural and historical context. A few, notably a Los Angeles Times reviewer whose dismissive commentary prompted a scathing public exchange of letters with the author, criticize it as containing too many tangents, generalizations, or unsupported assertions. And, for the Freud novice, reading will be challenging at times. Ultimately, all but the harshest reviews conclude that Secrets of the Soul is a comprehensive, richly detailed resource for anyone interested in Freuds legacy.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
This groundbreaking cultural history establishes the profound influence of Sigmund Freud on the countercultural changes wrought during the 1960s. Zaretsky begins his narrative long before that turbulent decade, tracing the meteoric rise of the great psychologist in an early-twentieth-century Europe and identifying in Freud's original doctrines the most profound summons to introspection since Calvinism. The insightful Freudianism-Calvinism parallel informs Zaretsky's extended metaphor of the psychoanalytic movement as a secular modern church, initially attracting just a few disciples but soon swelling to a large ecclesiastical body riven by denominational splits. In fighting each other, however, Jung, Adler, Horney, and others struck the sparks that eventually helped kindle the conflagrations of the '60s. But, Zaretsky argues, when '60s radicals reformed Freudianism, they jettisoned its introspective focus. Because he questions the viability of a nonintrospective Freudianism and because he sees psychiatrists increasingly relying on psychotropic drugs rather than talk therapies, Zaretsky concludes deeply perplexed about the future of the Freudian legacy. This is a book certain to interest--and disquiet--a generation catechized in the Freudian credo. Bryce Christensen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
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Unless you consider Freud synonomous with psycholanalysis, and I suppose at least some, if not many, among them certainly the author, do, then you're going to be disappointed if you're looking for a balanced treatment of all the various schools and personalities of the psychoanalytic movement. Sure Jung is mentioned, Adler, Rank, Klein, Reich, all the way down the line to Lacan, but they are all considered in relation to Freud, not as thinkers in their own right who eventually developed systems more or less free-standing and Freudless. Yes, any analyst post-Freud must in some way, manner, or form deal with Freud, and must be dealt with in relation to Freud, but does that also mean that every analyst, no matter how neatly he broke away or how far from the tree he carried his branch, he must still be considered as doing nothing more than reacting to and/or against Freud?
Well, if this book is any indication, Zaretsky seems to think so. I have no gripe with his writing a book on the cultural and social history of Freudianism, or Freudian analysis, but he really should have advertised his book as such. Maybe he wanted to. Maybe the publisher came up with this misleading title and subtitle to appeal to a wider audience, to sell more books. They do that all the time. I guess I should only be surprised that they didn't work Dan Brown's name into the title, or DaVinci, or Rachel Ray.
I can't believe it's snowing outside. I know that has nothing to do with my review of this book, but, then again, maybe it does. On some deep subconscious level that not even I'm aware of, I mean. For instance, I bought two new pairs of sandals today and it's snowing! Can you believe that? What timing, right? I bet Freud could figure out the meaning of that--if it were a dream. But this is real life!
The fact is, I'm not sure I have anything else to say about "Secrets of the Soul." (Except, apparently, this:) It's a pretty good book, even if it is somewhat misrepresented. I think Freud is one of those Eminences that a lot of people don't read because, like Babe Ruth, you know who he is even if you know nothing about psychology--or in Babe Ruth's case, baseball. Even if you do know something about psychology, the figure of Freud is obscured by a smokescreen of critical reactions over the years.
Freud often comes down to us as dogmatic, sexist, rigid, stodgy, conservative, domineering, and, yes, patriarchal. In fact, he is a lot of those things up to a certain point, but only up to a certain point. But Zaretsky shows us a Freud who was a lot more open-minded than he's usually given credit for being. A Freud who is quite careful and circumspect about the correctness of his theories. A Freud who encouraged new ideas and new lines of research. A Freud who modified, developed, and absorbed the critiques of the more talented of his disciples. A Freud with a good deal more forebearance towards those who he felt were betraying psychoanalysis. A Freud who seemed to feel genuine distress whenever he felt it necessary to toss someone out of the movement.
Zaretsky traces the diaspora of psychoanalysis across the world, especially after World War II, when the Nazis and Communists considered psychoanalysis a decadent Jewish pseudo-science or not sufficiently directed outward for the good of the State...or both. And follows the decline and fall of psychoanalysis as it eventually shattered into identity politics and a vertiable mosaic of cultural/intellectual fads.
Still, in the end, it's Freud, Freud, Freud...Freud up and out the wazoo. So don't let the title and subtitle fool you. This book should have the word "Freud" in both, and a big old picture of Freud on the cover.
Freud.....I just had to say it one more time.