the myth-making around freud

D015b348-a8ff-11e7-b9a3-2cac9d6c85bd4Antonio Melechi at the TLS:

Contrary to the heroic folklore served up by Ernest Jones, Anna Freud and the other faithful apparatchiks, psychoanalysis had rarely, if ever, involved any kind of attentive listening on Freud’s part. In fact, as Frederick Crews convincingly demonstrates in Freud: The making of an illusion, the talking cure was from its very beginnings deaf to its clientele. The inconvenient “rabble” that made their way to Berggasse 19 impinged on Freud’s time to write and theorize, reaffirming his misanthropic contention that “few patients are worth the trouble we spend on them”.

One of America’s foremost critics and essayists, Crews fell under the sway of psycho­analysis in the late 1950s. Once Henri Ellenberger and other psychiatric historians began to unpack the founding myths of psychoanalysis, showing Freud’s breakthrough “self-analysis” to be as questionable as his proprietary attitude to “the unconscious”, Crews’s position – and register – shifted. Aligning himself with Adolf Grünbaum’s anti-inductivist critique of psycho­analysis, he threw his hat in with the small band of academics whose critical assault on Freud was revitalized by the publication of his most disarming correspondence with Wilhelm Fliess.

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