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Rothschild, L. (2017). The Cut and the Building of Psychoanalysis, Volume 1: Sigmund Freud and Emma Eckstein, by Carlo Bonomi, Routledge, Sussex & New York, 2015, 288pp.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 77(1):91-96.
(2017). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 77(1):91-96
The Cut and the Building of Psychoanalysis, Volume 1: Sigmund Freud and Emma Eckstein, by Carlo Bonomi, Routledge, Sussex & New York, 2015, 288pp.
Review by: Louis Rothschild, Ph.D.
Twelve black and white reproductions may be found in Carlo Bonomi's The Cut and the Building of Psychoanalysis, Volume 1: Sigmund Freud and Emma Eckstein. One of these, The Legend of the Bishop and the Devil, is a painting dated 1854 by Moritz von Schwind that depicts a devil carrying stones to build a chapel while a bishop prays at the chapel's edifice. Bonomi reminds us that at a meeting of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Association Freud spoke of identifying with the devil's heavy lifting and rough work of laying stones for the psychoanalytic foundation, and that others, like the bishop had benefited. Heavy lifting may be motivated by trauma (cf., Ferenczi, 1933a), and may subsequently leave traumatic traces (cf., Bion, 2015). This book works to further illuminate and contextualize traumatic marks that were previously dissociated. Bonomi's portrait of Freud is one of a traumatized actor that feels similar to Bion in action during World War I. Bonomi's scholarship creates an atmosphere in which the reader may feel how like Bion at war, Freud feels compelled to act heroically while simultaneously struggling with pronounced self-reproach. Bonomi's capacity to think and dream through this psychoanalytic origin story has created a volume that is remarkable in regards to historiography and the sociology of psychoanalysis. Importantly, Bonomi's capacity to simultaneously be one who lifts heavy stones and one who benefits from what others have previously lifted has produced a significant contribution to our contemporary edifice that holds psychoanalytic praxis.
Which War Zone?
Much has been written about the war zones in which Sigmund Freud cut his clinical teeth, and Bonomi carefully includes a wide scholarship in his text. Here material on pre-Freudian psychiatry, nosology of disease - particularly hysteria and neurasthenia, gender, social class, sexuality, religion, and Freud's self-analysis is vast, and Bonomi manages to make it lively and accessible by centering his focus on Freud's dream of Irma's injection (Freud, 1900) and via interpretation, its relation to the 19th century psychiatric practice of castrating hysterical women - including Emma Eckstein, the only female in treatment with Freud during his self-analysis.
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