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Chessick, R.D. (2006). Rereading Freud: Psychoanalysis Through Philosophy, Edited by Jon Mills, State University of New York Press, Albany, NY, 2004, xvi + 224 pp., $45.00.. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 34(2):383-385.

(2006). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 34(2):383-385

Rereading Freud: Psychoanalysis Through Philosophy, Edited by Jon Mills, State University of New York Press, Albany, NY, 2004, xvi + 224 pp., $45.00.

Review by:
Richard D. Chessick, M.D., Ph.D.

This book is not destined for psychoanalytic clinicians or psychiatrists; it is designed to appeal to those interested in philosophy. It consists of a series of ten essays of varying quality and readability, each discussing specific aspects of Freud's writing that interest the philosopher writing the essay. All the authors are academic philosophers except for the editor, Jon Mills, who is listed as a philosopher and an Adlerian psychologist. Mills is concerned that Freud's theories have become “so fundamentally distorted and misinterpreted by generations of English-speaking commentators that he is radically misunderstood even within psychoanalysis today” (p. ix) and therefore he hopes to “celebrate and philosophically critique Freud's most important contribution to understanding humanity” (p. x). I did not understand the claim in the preface (p. x) that the contributors are “clinical practitioners;” certainly those whom I am familiar with from their other writings such as Sallis and Rockmore are academic philosophers and to my knowledge do not claim to be “clinicians.”

I found the two first essays in the book, by Sallis (“The Logic and Illogic of the Dreamwork”) and by Rockmore (“Freud's Dream Theory and Social Constructivism”), to be extremely interesting because my philosophical interests lie in epistemology and metaphysics. These two essays are careful studies of the epistemological foundation of Freud's writing in the Interpretation of Dreams. The non-philosopher reader will be much helped if he or she comes to these essays with a foreknowledge of the philosophy of Kant and perhaps some familiarity with my book on Freud in which I discuss the transition in Freud's thinking from Cartesian to Kantian epistemology (1981).

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