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Hoffman, A. (2016). A review of The Cut and the Building of Psychoanalysis, Volume I: Sigmund Freud and Emma Eckstein: by Carlo Bonomi. New York, NY: Routledge, 2015. 275 pp.. Contemp. Psychoanal., 52(4):635-641.

(2016). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 52(4):635-641

A review of The Cut and the Building of Psychoanalysis, Volume I: Sigmund Freud and Emma Eckstein: by Carlo Bonomi. New York, NY: Routledge, 2015. 275 pp.

Anne Golomb Hoffman, Ph.D.

With this volume, Carlo Bonomi makes a significant contribution to the history of psychoanalysis. Highlighting medical practices categorized as circumcision and castration in girls and women, Bonomi asks

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us to consider their influence on Freud's thinking in the 1880s and 1890s. Drawing on archival research, Bonomi argues for the likelihood that Emma Eckstein underwent this kind of surgery in childhood as a treatment for hysteria. Bonomi reads the Irma dream, the specimen dream of psychoanalysis, in light of this conclusion and finds evidence of the resonances of Eckstein's childhood trauma in the complex play of identifications between doctor and patient that the dream contains.

With a focus on the years in which Freud carried out his self-analysis and began to formulate the ideas that would lead to the development of psychoanalysis as a treatment modality and a theory of mind, Bonomi argues for recognizing “(1) the generic impact of the castration of women and girls on Freud as a young medical doctor; (2) Freud's private choice not to have his children circumcised; and (3) the specific emotional resonance on Freud as analyst of the genital trauma which Emma had endured as a child” (p. 6). Arguing that Freud took a “position against the practice of female castration as a cure for hysteric women” (p. 11), Bonomi's offers a new reading of the Irma dream that takes into account Freud's unconscious reaction to Emma's childhood trauma. Moreover,

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