Freuds Literary Culture (Cambridge Studies in German)


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The idea to update and condense the magisterial standard edition -- sometime referred to, tongue-in-cheek, as the King James Version -- was spurred by the expiration of the Strachey copyright. His Herculean labors, under the watchful eye of Anna Freud, Freud's youngest child and the only one to follow in his footsteps, took place over a period of 21 years Strachey's work has long been regarded as an exhaustive triumph of fastidious scholarship.

Still, there have always been questions about the aptness of some of the vocabulary -- for example, Strachey's use of ''instinct'' instead of ''drive'' for the term ''Trieb'' -- as well as the possibility that he denatured Freud's vivid style into the polished and stately prose of a Victorian gentleman: ''A cross,'' as the Cambridge historian of science John Forrester characterizes it, ''between Thomas Hardy and Julian Huxley.

In the hope of making him more acceptable to a skeptical medical community, Strachey set about ''scientizing'' Freud, adding concrete qualifiers like ''degree'' and ''level'' to Freud's metaphorical imagery, and introducing clanking Greek words like cathexis and parapraxis into the text in place of Freud's more colloquial and plainspoken German.

It was Bruno Bettelheim who first brought these concerns to wide attention 20 years ago in an essay in The New Yorker in which he suggested that Strachey had literally taken the soul out of Freud. Of course, these issues, intriguing though they are to scholars and critics, pale beside the larger issue of Freud's relevance -- or lack of it -- as a figure who speaks to the 21st century. The true believers, like Harold Bloom, maintain that Freud is the central consciousness of our time; he is, as Auden had it, ''a whole climate of opinion.

On the other side, there is the hallowed vituperative tradition of Freud bashing, which proceeded in piecemeal fashion with Karl Popper and Hans Eysenck in the 50's and 60's and went on to claim ever more cultural ground. It is perhaps best exemplified by the gleefully sustained attacks of the literary critic Frederick Crews, a reformed believer whose article ''Analysis Terminable'' could be considered the first real shot in the Freud wars. For this group, the whole enterprise of psychoanalysis is a colossal con job perpetrated by a wily and ambitious half-baked theoretician on his cowed peers and on a gullible lay public.

Enter Phillips, the man who, as he himself might say, loves Freud but refuses to be enslaved by him and has thereby succeeded in moving beyond the raging ambivalence or sadomasochistic ''enactment,'' to borrow from the florid jargon of shrinks he maintains is inherent in all our relationships. Having long been convinced that ''psychoanalysis is only useful as.

It has been servile in its wish to meet scientific criteria to legitimize him. I want people to read Freud as you would any great novelist. His books are not accurate accounts of people. Every psychoanalytic text, as Auden said, should begin with: 'Have you heard the one about? Phillips's office is at the top of three flights of stairs in a scruffy whitewashed brick building down the street from Dakota, the chic restaurant on the corner where Phillips and I repair for a late lunch. Phillips's determination not to take himself too seriously or, at any rate, not to seem to be taking himself too seriously is disarming.

He cheerfully admits that he's ''not good at punctuation,'' and when I ask him why he is resistant to drawing even the most provisional of conclusions, he offers a simple explanation: ''I don't know how to elaborate thoughts,'' he says. This receptive attitude helps to explain the rapport with children and adolescents that shines so clearly through his writing, in which he comes across as the least patronizing and most charming of allies, one who is willing to acknowledge the hopeless error of grown-up ways.

Phillips, who will be 49 this September, was the principal child psychotherapist at Charing Cross Hospital in London for a decade before going into private practice seven or eight years ago. He pulled back from working with children after he became a father -- to Mia, who recently turned 9. Phillips and his ex-partner, the critic Jacqueline Rose, share parenting responsibilities. But when I had my own child, I could bear much less about the way children had been treated. I've seen many brutalized children, and it was like losing some kind of protective covering.

These days he mainly treats adults, who come to him by way of referrals, by word of mouth or from reading his books. He sees most of them for minute sessions, but since he is reliably unorthodox ''anxious practitioners,'' he points out, ''need rigorous technique'' , he also sees patients for an hour or occasionally for double sessions.

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He has been known to sit on the floor and says he works well ''on demand,'' seeing patients when they want to come rather than at regular times. Although Phillips cuts a sufficiently glamorous figure to earn him the sobriquet ''the Martin Amis of British psychoanalysis,'' he firmly states his preference for the common over the uncommon patient. His only criterion for treatment is that he be ''moved'' by the person he is working with and that ''there's a conversation that's important.

I am inclined to believe him. He appears genuinely appalled at the blatant materialism of contemporary life and has few acquisitional habits beyond college-dorm staples like books, CD's and plants; he does like to eat out, he admits, as though it were a fantastic indulgence. He is particularly incensed by the greed of his colleagues: ''Any analyst who charges a lot of money is in my view betraying the profession. Phillips seems to have led a remarkably charmed life. He grew up in Cardiff, Wales, in an assimilated Jewish family his grandfather's surname was Pinchas-Levy until a customs official at Swansea decided to replace it with a Welsh one and remembers feeling ''very well-loved'' as a child, with parents who indulged his passion for tropical birds.

I don't believe Jews are the chosen people. Noel-Smith, Kelly Freud on Time and Timelessness. Google Scholar Citations. Scopus Citations. Graham Frankland , University of Liverpool. Export citation Recommend to librarian Recommend this book. Freud's Literary Culture. Graham Frankland. Optional message. Book description. Aa Aa. Refine List.

Freud's Literary Culture (Cambridge Studies in German)

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Freuds Literary Culture (Cambridge Studies in German)
Freuds Literary Culture (Cambridge Studies in German)
Freuds Literary Culture (Cambridge Studies in German)
Freuds Literary Culture (Cambridge Studies in German)
Freuds Literary Culture (Cambridge Studies in German)
Freuds Literary Culture (Cambridge Studies in German)

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