Becoming Freud: The Making of Psychoanalysis

Yale University Press  2014


Readers looking for a biography of Freud might do well to pay attention to this volume's subtitle; this book focuses heavily on Freud's development of psychoanalysis. Indeed, Phillips opens by explaining to readers why the very notion of biography is antithetical to psychoanalysis: what is truly important about any person can only really be known to that person, as uncovered in analysis. If biography reveals anything, it is something about the biographer's desires, not the subject's. With that caveat in mind, Phillips then offers readers a few obligatory pages detailing the facts of Freud's birth, upbringing, and education, before coming to what he considers the core material:, Freud's intellectual influences and his evolving understanding of the workings and unworkings of the human mind. While Phillips'; expertise with the language, concepts, and history of psychoanalysis is obvious, lay readers may find themselves a bit lost in the minutiae of hermeneutic debates for which they have no real context for comprehension. That this "biography" was assembled from a series of lectures only adds to the difficulties; many passages must be read aloud to make sense. However, for the reader well-versed in psychology, this book might be brilliant. Index, notes.

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