Freud and Psychoanalysis Bashed Again: This Time Paranoid Accusations

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Originally published in Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 1998, Vol 43(11), 785-786. Review of book: “Freud's paranoid quest: Psychoanalysis and modern suspicion,” by John Farrell (see record 1996-97994-000). John Farrell, a literature professor, has written a highly sardonic critique of Freud and his theories. He sees Freud as almost sinister and demonic, and he sees Freud's work as a personal expression of Freud's unique pathological dynamics. He postulates a rather worrisome diagnosis of Freud, that is, the equivalent of a paranoid disorder with delusional features. As a prosecutorial condemnation, Farrell s book is nevertheless developed with profound scholarship and remarkable erudition. Using extensive citations, Farrell evidently read everything Freud wrote as well as the work of his precursive influences. He builds his case for Freud's indulgence in irrational grandiosity and suspicion and takes pride in decoding the paranoid bottom line. He thus concludes that psychoanalytic theory has no merit and is merely whimsical satire. The authors portrayal of Freud is unflattering and demeaning, arguing that our culture has been seduced by his charisma, charm, and rhetorical brilliance. For those interested in the continuing polemics surrounding Freud and psychoanalysis, this book adds some well-researched, thoughtful ideas to the fray. But they are misguided ideas concluding with the misdiagnosis of pathological paranoia. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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