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Gedo, J.E. (1997). Freud, Proust, Perversion And Love. By Hendrika C. Halberstadt-Freud. Berwyn, PA: Swets & Zeitlinger, 1991, 219 pp., $36.00.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 45:1331-1334.

(1997). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 45:1331-1334

Freud, Proust, Perversion And Love. By Hendrika C. Halberstadt-Freud. Berwyn, PA: Swets & Zeitlinger, 1991, 219 pp., $36.00.

Review by:
John E. Gedo

Cover art from Freud, Proust, Perversion and Love

To my knowledge, this is the first book in decades to attempt the impossible feat of expanding the clinical theory of psychoanalysis through the examination of a work of art. Though in her epilogue, the author must ultimately acknowledge that she has been unable to forge a unified clinical theory for “perversion” (p. 153), she does set out to formulate what Proust in his various writings conveys about the psychology of this condition. Still, Halberstadt-Freud departs frequently from her declared program of learning from Proust to make interpretations, based on a wide variety of existing psychoanalytic hypotheses, of the meanings implicit in his texts. If Proust had any insights into the meaning of perverse behaviors that analytic authors have not previously proposed, I have overlooked them in Halberstadt-Freud's exposition, which is not always easy to follow.

One reason for the fragmentary nature of the author's theory of perversion is that she uncritically endorses almost every psychoanalytic concept she mentions, with the exception of those of Sigmund Freud. Compared to her severity vis-à-vis her great-grandfather, Halberstadt-Freud's indulgent attitude toward everyone else verges on the intellectually promiscuous. A partial list of analytic bedfellows of whom she approves in the perversion sweepstakes includes Bak, Balint, Chasseguet-Smirgel, Greenacre, Khan, M. Klein, Kohut, Lacan, Mahler, McDougall, W.

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