Laid out in the first four essays, Crews’s brief against Freud is hard to refute. Through Freud’s letters and documents, Crews reveals him to be not the compassionate healer of legend, but a cold and calculating megalomaniac, determined to go down in history as the Darwin of the psyche. Not only did he not care about patients (he sometimes napped or wrote letters while they were free-associating): there is no historical evidence that he effectively cured any of them. And the propositions of psychoanalysis have proven to be either untestable or falsified. How can we disprove the idea, for example, that we have a death drive? Or that dreams always represent wish fulfilments? When faced with counter-examples, Freudianism always proves malleable enough to incorporate them as evidence for the theory. Other key elements of Freudian theory have never been corroborated. There are no scientifically convincing experiments, for example, demonstrating the repression of traumatic memories. As Crews points out, work with survivors of the Holocaust and other traumatic episodes has shown not a single case in which such memories are quashed and then recovered. In four further essays, Crews documents the continuing pernicious influence of Freud in the “recovered memory” movement. The idea that childhood sexual abuse can be repressed and then recalled originated with Freud, and has been used by therapists to evoke false memories which have traumatized patients and shattered families.

more from the TLS here.