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Lothane, Z. (1997). Freud's Paranoid Quest: Psychoanalysis And Modern Suspicion. By John Farrell. New York: New York University Press, 1996, xi + 275 pp., $34.95.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 45:1319-1324.
(1997). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 45:1319-1324
Freud's Paranoid Quest: Psychoanalysis And Modern Suspicion. By John Farrell. New York: New York University Press, 1996, xi + 275 pp., $34.95.
Review by: Zvi Lothane
Since the term paranoid is so loaded with stigma, the question leaps to mind immediately: Is this new book scholarship or slander? We thought we had heard it all, from the current crop of baiters and bashers, about the evil man Freud. But get ready for this one: according to literature professor John Farrell, Freud was paranoid. Not just paranoid in the colloquial sense—i.e., distrustful and suspicious, as you or I might be walking down the streets of New York at night, or as said of a certain style of politics or politician—but clinically, pathologically paranoid, and that includes his character, his ideas, and his method.
Whereas Freud's personality has been attacked repeatedly down the decades, attacks on both the man and his method have increased in virulence in recent years (see Lothane 1994, 1996a,b). Farrell's Freud-bashing credentials are certified by the company he keeps: e.g., Frederick Crews (1995), who dedicates his book to Peter Swales, and Richard Webster (1995). From the first stone he casts to the last, Farrell drives his point repeatedly and relentlessly, with the result that paranoia, like Midas's gold, is found in everything he touches. Freud is fortunate to find himself in good company, along with the “clinically paranoid Rousseau” (p. 68), Nietzsche, and Hitler, not to mention that allegedly quintessential paranoid, Paul Schreber himself. In the face of such a totalizing paranoid witch-hunt, who shall 'scape whipping?
Farrell's paranoid transformation of Freud is based on the following construction: (a) “delusions of grandeur and fears of persecution … [i.e.,] paranoia” form the psychosis of a number of famous authors (pp. 1-2); (b) “the suspicious hermeneutic systems of Nietzsche, Marx, and Freud are the most distinctive intellectual achievements of advanced modernity” (p.
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