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Gabbard, G.O. (1996). Freud's Critics. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 44:367-368.

(1996). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 44:367-368

Freud's Critics

Glen O. Gabbard

In December 1995 the Library of Congress in Washington announced that it would postpone a major exhibition called “Sigmund Freud: Conflict and Culture.” A group of Freud's critics—some refer to them as “Freud-bashers” or even “thought police”—signed a petition urging a reconsideration of the exhibit, based on their perspective that Freud would not be represented in a balanced manner. To a large extent this cancellation served as a wake-up call to the psychoanalytic profession, galvanizing analysts of all persuasions to participate in a large-scale letter writing campaign designed to influence the Library of Congress to reverse its decision.

Although as analysts we have become accustomed to attacks on Freud and on psychoanalysis as both a theory of the mind and a clinical endeavor, the events in our nation's capital alerted us to the fact that we are dealing with a carefully orchestrated and well-organized effort to suppress psychoanalytic ideas. As Jonathan Lear noted in an elegant commentary in the December 25, 1995, issue of The New Republic, “Freud-bashing has gone from an argument to a movement” (p. 18).

This movement has spawned a series of books challenging Freud's professional ethics, his clinical technique, and the fundamental tenets of his theory. In this issue, three of those books are reviewed on the pages that follow. Lear and Robert Michels offer critiques of The Memory Wars: Freud's Legacy of Dispute by Frederick Crews, an expanded version of his attention-getting essays in The New York Review of Books. Michael Beldoch reviews Richard Webster's tome, Why Freud Was Wrong: Sin, Science, and Psychoanalysis, and Robert Galatzer-Levy offers his own perspective on Adolf Grünbaum's latest diatribe, Validation in the Clinical Theory of Psychoanalysis: A Study in the Philosophy of Psychoanalysis.

Some of our colleagues have argued that we should not dignify these books by mounting thoughtful, articulate critiques of the authors' thinking.

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