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Yorke, C. (1990). Freud: By Anthony Storr. London and New York: Oxford University Press. 1989. Pp. 135.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 71:740-743.

(1990). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 71:740-743

Freud: By Anthony Storr. London and New York: Oxford University Press. 1989. Pp. 135.

Review by:
Clifford Yorke

STORR ON FREUD proclaim the publishers, much as they might announce WITTGENSTEIN ON NIETZSCHE, if such a manuscript had come their way. The book on offer is a further addition to the Past Masters series, a group of rather slim volumes designed to acquaint the curious with some of the fundamental contributions to cultural history. The series has been well received. Will Storr's book add to its reputation?

Storr does not spend much time on the life, but says a little more about the character. Freud's character played a major part in his achievements, and we need to know about it. What do we learn? First and foremost, that Freud had an 'obsessional personality'. Men and women of this kind are 'meticulous, scrupulous, accurate, reliable, honest, and much concerned with cleanliness, control and order' (p. 3). These traits are 'admirable': only when they 'become exaggerated do we speak of obsessional neurosis' (p. 3). Freud had an 'inhibited, controlled nature'. His obstinacy is underlined. Superstition is exemplified in his attitude to numbers. 'Such superstitions, often combined with compulsive rituals and with a preoccupation with death, are commonly found in cases of obsessional neurosis' (p. 5, my italics). Furthermore, Freud's 'obsessional habits and traits' include 'compulsive' cigar smoking and collecting 'antique statuettes'. Storr seems not to know the difference between character and neurosis, and between compulsive ritual, compelling thinking, addiction, and enduring attachments to things as well as people.

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