Freud and his Mother

Adam Phillips

  • The Riddle of Freud: Jewish Influences on his Theory of Female Sexuality by Estelle Roith
    Tavistock, 199 pp, £25.00, September 1987, ISBN 0 422 61380 0

Psychoanalysis is a conversation that enables people to understand what stops them having the kinds of conversation they want. But as the unconscious and sexuality have gradually been replaced by developmental theory and normative standards of emotional health, the conversation has become predictable, when people’s lives, of course, are not. As psychoanalysis has become one of the helping professions, it has lost some of its original vitality. Despite Freud’s affirmation that it is not more truthful to be serious, psychoanalytic theory, at least in Britain, is not in the least bit funny. It is always sober and usually earnest. The romance of psychoanalysis has been undermined by coercive fantasies of rigour and expertise promoted by the owners of psychoanalysis.

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