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Questions for Freud


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Table of Contents

Preface Acknowledgments Abbreviations Introduction: Why Question Freud? I. Fundamental Contradictions of Freudian Thought Dream Interpretation: Free Association or Universal Symbolism? The Concept of Psychical Reality and Its Traps II. Psychoanalysis in the Eye of Literature Applied Psychoanalysis in Question A Case Study in Literary Psychoanalysis: Jensen's Gradiva The Distortions of Psychoanalysis: Freud versus Jensen III. Transmissions of Psychoanalysis Censorship and Secrets in the Historical Topography of Psychoanalysis The Setbacks of Catharsis: Emmy von N. Neutralizing Constructive Criticism: Freud Faced with Ferenczi's Research on Trauma IV. Gaining Insight into Freud Methodological Issues The Freud Family's Disaster seen through the Original Documents Freud's Self-Analysis and the Field of Biographical Studies Freud's Dreams: Witnesses to His Family Disaster The Secret of Psychoanalysis Conclusion Notes Index

About the Author

Nicholas Rand was Professor of French Literature at the University of Wisconsin-Madison until his retirement in 2007. He edited and translated the American editions of Maria Toeroek and Nicolas Abraham's The Wolf Man's Magic Word: A Cryptonymy and The Shell and the Kernel: Renewals of Psychoanalysis. Maria Toeroek (1925-1998) was an internationally renowned French psychoanalyst.


Rand, a professor of French literature, and Torok, a French psychoanalyst, reexamine Freud's theories of dream interpretation and psychical reality purportedly to reveal contradictions that have undermined the practice of psychoanalysis. According to the authors, Freud's concepts of dream symbols and psychic reality are contradictory and reflect his ambivalence toward the real experiences of trauma underlying his patients' neuroses. Freud censored the role of trauma in his theory of the psychoneuroses, it is argued, to avoid facing the trauma of his own childhood. The authors document that when Freud was nine, his uncle, Josef, was involved in a counterfeiting scandal. Yet this argument is unlikely to convince either psychoanalysts or Freudian scholars. For example, Rand and Torok hold that dream interpretation according to symbols stands in contradiction to the method based on the dreamer's free associations. Freud, however, expressly admonishes against the reduction of the content of a dream either entirely to symbols or to associative distortions. Even granting the alleged inconsistencies in Freud's thinking, the evidence that they derive from Freud's attempt to conceal his awareness of his own childhood trauma is unsubstantiated as there is no historical evidence that Freud was traumatized by his uncle's disgrace. Ultimately, this book amounts to a reaffirmation of the place of trauma in psychoanalytic theory, which will mainly persuade those who are already predisposed to accept the authors' conclusions. (Jan.)

Makes for a lively and challenging read. -- Paul Roazen * Toronto Globe and Mail *

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