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In Praise of Difficult Children

Adam Phillips, 12 February 2009

... resistance to ensure that the something better is real, not merely a fantasy. In our dreams, Anna Freud said, we can have our eggs cooked exactly as we want them, but we can’t eat them. In reality, we can eat our eggs because they are not cooked exactly as we want them. Truant minds need to keep on being reminded that there is nothing more ...

How a Fabrication Differs from a Lie

Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen, 13 April 2000

Der Fall FreudDie Geburt der Psychoanalyse aus der Lüge 
by Han Israëls, translated by Gerd Busse.
Europäische Verlagsanstalt, 247 pp., DM 30, May 1999, 3 434 50454 0
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... Was Freud a liar?’ Ever since Frank Cioffi had the audacity to ask this question in 1973, it has continued to rock the world of psychoanalysis. Till then, things had been so simple. Children of the ‘Freudian century’, we had all learned to venerate in Sigmund Freud a man of ‘absolute honesty’ and ‘flawless integrity’, as his loyal biographer Ernest Jones called him ...

The Unimportance of Being Ernest

Adam Phillips, 5 August 1993

The Complete Correspondence of Sigmund Freud and Ernest Jones 1908-1939 
edited by Andrew Paskauskas, introduced by Riccardo Steiner.
Harvard, 836 pp., £29.95, May 1993, 0 674 15423 1
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... down in psychoanalytic history as the rather priggish servant who also acted as a nurse both to Freud and to the psychoanalytic ‘movement’, as it is often referred to in these revealing letters. (At other times it is a ‘campaign’ or a ‘cause’.) Apparently convinced of the unimportance of being Ernest – he wrote a famous paper, ‘The ...

Assault on Freud

Arnold Davidson, 5 July 1984

FreudThe Assault on Truth 
by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson.
Faber, 308 pp., £9.95, May 1984, 0 571 13240 5
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... submerging these issues. The rhetorical structure of his book is an extended ad hominem argument: Freud and later psychoanalysts were liars and hypocrites, lacking in courage, and therefore psychoanalytic theory is useless. It is as if Masson had rehabilitated and adapted the old argument that since Luther had notorious difficulties with his toilet ...

It

Gabriele Annan, 24 May 1990

A Young Girl’s Diary 
edited by Daniel Gunn and Patrick Guyomard.
189 pp., £12.95, April 1990, 0 04 440273 2
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... victim to the overwhelming onrush of events’. In 1915 Hug-Hellmuth showed the diary to Freud. He was impressed and enchanted by the girl’s artless account of her feelings in puberty, and in a letter to Hug-Hellmuth he said: ‘It is your duty, I think, to publish the diary. My readers will be grateful to you for it.’ Hug-Hellmuth published it ...

St Marilyn

Andrew O’Hagan: The Girl and Me, 6 January 2000

The Personal Property of Marilyn Monroe 
Christie’s, 415 pp., $85, September 1999, 0 903432 64 1Show More
The Complete Marilyn Monroe 
by Adam Victor.
Thames and Hudson, 339 pp., £29.95, November 1999, 0 500 01978 9
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Marilyn Monroe 
by Barbara Leaming.
Orion, 474 pp., £8.99, October 1999, 0 7528 2692 1
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... into the background, I have let the patient’s words and feelings enter this part of me.’ Like Freud he invited his favourite patient to his dinner-table. He offered his own family in place of the one she didn’t have. And Marilyn went into her final decline when Greenson went on holiday. Greenson wrote to ...

Was she Julia?

Stephen Spender, 7 July 1983

Code Name ‘Mary’: Memoirs of an American Woman in the Austrian Underground 
by Muriel Gardiner.
Yale, 200 pp., £10.95, May 1983, 0 300 02940 3
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... evidence about Julia, for Lillian Hellman tells us that her heroine was accepted for analysis by Freud. If Freud had Julia for a patient, someone must surely know about it. Freud was unable to accept Muriel as a patient, but wrote to her recommending his pupil and colleague Ruth Mack ...

Making a mess

Adam Phillips, 2 February 1989

Mother, Madonna, Whore: The Idealisation and Denigration of Motherhood 
by Estela Welldon.
Free Association, 179 pp., £11.95, November 1988, 1 85343 039 0
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... beginning, about the relationship between justice and love, there is no explicit description in Freud’s work of what constitutes a good life. And this is one of the many things that distinguish him from his followers and critics. It was also, of course, part of Freud’s disingenuous rationalism to assert that ...

What did Freud want?

Rosemary Dinnage, 3 December 1992

Freud’s Women 
by Lisa Appignanesi and John Forrester.
Weidenfeld, 563 pp., £25, October 1992, 0 297 81244 0
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Psychoanalysis in its Cultural Context 
edited by Edward Timms and Ritchie Robertson.
Edinburgh, 209 pp., £30, August 1992, 9780748603596
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... The sharpest comment in Freud’s Women – a huge book, but consistently readable – comes at the end. It would be eccentric, say the authors, to conclude after five hundred-odd pages that Freud’s significance for women lies in his having been the first equal-opportunities employer ...

Violence

Edmund Leach, 23 October 1986

The Anthropology of Violence 
edited by David Riches.
Blackwell, 232 pp., £25, September 1986, 0 631 14788 8
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Quest for Excitement: Sport and Leisure in the Civilising Process 
by Norbert Elias and Eric Dunning.
Blackwell, 313 pp., £19.50, August 1986, 0 631 14654 7
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Sport, Power and Culture: A Social and Historical Analysis of Popular Sports in Britain 
by John Hargreaves.
Polity, 258 pp., £25, September 1986, 0 7456 0153 7
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At the Dawn of Tyranny: The Origins of Individualism, Political Oppression and the State 
by Eli Sagan.
Faber, 420 pp., £17.50, April 1986, 0 571 13822 5
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... ruled have treated this shift of values as psychologically acceptable. There is no reference to Freud, but a review of the first edition of Civilisation and its Discontents (1930) included the following passage: ‘Civilisation is only made possible by individual renouncements. The instinctive life of man is one of unbridled aggression and egoistic ...

Diary

Rosemary Dinnage: Evacuees, 14 October 1999

... sixties and seventies some of us puzzle over what our parents thought they were doing. My friend Anna’s father had fought in the First World War (as, I suppose, had most of our fathers) and had seen lost children running wild in battle conditions – think of Africa today, or the Balkans. Some mothers feared their daughters would be raped. At the time, it ...

From Shtetl to Boulevard

Paul Keegan: Freud’s Mother, 5 October 2017

FreudIn His Time and Ours 
by Elisabeth Roudinesco, translated by Catherine Porter.
Harvard, 580 pp., £27.95, November 2016, 978 0 674 65956 8
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FreudAn Intellectual Biography 
by Joel Whitebook.
Cambridge, 484 pp., £30, February 2017, 978 0 521 86418 3
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... In​ ‘Some Remarks on a Case of Obsessive-Compulsive Neurosis’, Freud’s case history of the Rat Man (real name: Ernst Lanzer), there is an account of Lanzer’s attempts to repay a debt, or rather his attempt to describe his attempts to do so. While a reserve officer on military exercises, he loses his pince-nez and sends a telegram to his optician in Vienna ...

Vienna: Myth and Reality

Hans Keller, 5 June 1980

Fin-de-Siècle Vienna: Politics and Culture 
by Carl Schorske.
Weidenfeld, 378 pp., £15, May 1980, 0 297 77772 6
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A Nervous Splendour: Vienna 1888/1889 
by Frederic Morton.
Weidenfeld, 340 pp., £8.95, May 1980, 0 297 77769 6
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... as well as Arnold Schoenberg’s, the Schnitzel’s as well as Arthur Schnitzler’s and Sigmund Freud’s – was bound to result in an attempt to explain it all, or most of it, or that part of it that has a hypnotic effect on the investigator himself. The question then naturally arises how far he has fallen victim to the myth whose reality he is trying to ...

Kith, Kin and Cuckoo

Susan Fromberg Schaeffer, 5 December 1985

Lost Children: The Story of Adopted Children Searching for their Mothers 
by Polly Toynbee.
Hutchinson, 288 pp., £9.95, August 1985, 0 09 160440 0
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... of child analysts, the most famous of whom are British? According to D.W. Winnicott, Anna Freud and Melanie Klein, what infants need most is one figure with whom they bond. In the absence of what is often called ‘the primary maternal figure’, the child develops no stable sense of identity, or no identity at all, and in extreme cases can ...

From Soup to Fish

Andrew O’Hagan: The Spender Marriage, 17 December 2015

A House in St John’s Wood: In Search of My Parents 
by Matthew Spender.
William Collins, 448 pp., £25, August 2015, 978 0 00 813206 4
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... it wasn’t hers. Natasha later tried to throw herself off a train. Her husband consulted with Anna Freud in London and things were miserable for a while. ‘My mother’s feelings were only revealed after her death,’ Matthew Spender writes, hidden away in a diary written during a particularly stressful moment in her life, when my father fell in ...

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