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Hysterical: Anna Freud's Story


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About the Author

REBECCA COFFEY is an award-winning print journalist, documentary filmmaker, and radio commentator. Coffey contributes regularly to Scientific American and Discover magazines. She blogs about sexuality, relationships, crime and punishment, social media, and psychology for Psychology Today, and is a broadcasting contributor to Vermont Public Radio's drive-time commentary series. Her most recent major work of journalism is the March 2012 eBook MURDERS MOST FOUL: And the School Shooters in Our Midst (Vook), which landed her appearances on Fox News, CBS Radio and NPR, among others. Her narrative nonfiction book UNSPEAKABLE TRUTHS AND HAPPY ENDINGS: Human Cruelty and the New Trauma Therapy (Sidran Press) was widely praised, and was named an Outstanding Academic Title by the American Library Association's Choice magazine. Her television documentaries about health and mental health have been broadcast nationally. Coffey is also a humorist. Her NIETZSCHE'S ANGEL FOOD CAKE: And Other "Recipes" for the Intellectually Famished was published by Beck and Branch in 2013. Other humor has appeared in McSweeney's Internet Tendency, The Rumpus, and a large handful of literary magazines and e-zines. For more on Rebeeca, go to http: //


"Coffey presents an avidly researched, shrewd, and unnerving first novel that purports to be the lost autobiography of Anna Freud.... Coffey offers some truly shocking disclosures about the Freud family in this complexly entertaining, sexually dramatic, acidly funny novel of genius and absurdity, insight and delusion, independence and loyalty. Illustrated with archival photographs and backed by a substantial bibliography, this is an electrifying, imaginative portrait of an overlooked historical figure of great significance: fascinating, courageous, and steadfast Anna Freud."
"Though fiction, Hysterical is structured as an autobiography, with Anna's voice assuming the narration. It's an interesting trick, and one Coffey pulls off quite well--she captures Anna's formality, smart but plain spoken, straightforward to the point of creating emotional distance. . . . Like a therapy session, Hysterical tunnels very deeply into Anna's childhood experiences--thoughts, events, dreams, fantasies--and like a therapy session, the facets of what are revealed are at times disturbing and uncomfortable. Add to all that the inherent struggle between Sigmund and Anna, which twists and deepens as they both age, especially as Anna comes into her sexuality, and you've got a plot so rife with tension it'll make you squirm. . . ."
--LAMBDA Literary
"Coffey's tale uses Jewish jokes and other humor to humanize the family dynamic, and delicately delineate the tension between Anna's devotion to her father and her enduring attachment to Dorothy Burlingham, an heir to the Tiffany fortune. ... [I]n this fictional version, Anna confesses: "Of course in my account to Papa, I elaborated and lied. Personally, I think that honesty in psychoanalysis is over-rated."
--O, The Oprah Magazine
"Completely absorbing and entirely believable, Hysterical is both a lovely work and a treasure. This is the book we all wish Anna Freud had had the courage to write."
--Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, author and former Projects Director of The Freud Archives
"...[A] wonderfully insightful fictional glimpse into the Freud family dynamic and, most notably, its impact on Sigmund's theories about lesbianism. How did Freud p re receive the announcement that the daughter to whom he was closest--his right-hand girl and prot g --loved women? How did he deal with her long domestic partnership with another woman? Coffey's presentation of what may have happened between Sigmund and Anna is nuanced, intelligent, and wonderfully persuasive."
--Lillian Faderman, author of Naked in the Promised Land: A Memoir
"Rebecca Coffey's imagination knows no bounds. She makes you believe this is exactly the way it all happened. HYSTERICAL is sad, funny, painful, strange, outrageous, and disturbing. If we can't have Anna's diaries, this is the next best thing."
--Ellen Bass, author of The Courage to Heal
"Moving, irreverent, often very funny, and a remarkable tour de force, Hysterical lets us eavesdrop at the keyhole of the Freud family. And, oh, what we learn!"
--Leonard Foglia, Broadway director of Thurgood, Wait Until Dark, and Master Class

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