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Khan, M.R. (1981). Freud, Biologist of the Mind. Beyond the Psychoanalytic Legend. By Frank J. Sulloway. Burnett Books, 1979. Pp. 612.. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 8:125-125.
(1981). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 8:125-125
Freud, Biologist of the Mind. Beyond the Psychoanalytic Legend. By Frank J. Sulloway. Burnett Books, 1979. Pp. 612.
Review by: M. Masud R. Khan
Mr Sulloway, as the blurb states, has written a mammoth 'controversial book' about Sigmund Freud. I use the full name advisedly, because Sulloway seems to have little notion of the fact that the man and thinker Sigmund Freud lived a life very different from what his posthumous reputation has concocted into a 'legend' (to quote Sulloway himself).
To discuss this curiously mis-leading book—mis-leading in spite of Sulloway's industrious researches—one needs either to write a long critical review, or a short one, merely stating the obvious errors. I have chosen the second task.
To start with, Sulloway betrays his bias of thinking by titling the book 'Freud, Biologist of the Mind'. Mind is a concept, hence there can be no biology of it. There can be a biology of the brain, but not of the mind. One of Freud's unique achievements was to postulate theories that gave us insights into how the human mind works. His Interpretation of Dreams spells it out with such vigour and clarity that one does not need Sulloway to tell us what Freud really meant, as if Freud himself did not know what he was writing and thinking.
The second, and a somewhat malicious error, is Sulloway's thirteenth chapter titled 'The Myth of the Hero in the Psychoanalytic Movement'. Freud was not mythic in his life-time, though his theories began to make their impact after the First World War, that is about 1920 onwards. Until then, Freud lived in isolation, and his first years of practice were neither lucrative, nor did he receive acclaim, in spite of his lectures in America.
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