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Papernik, D.S. (1983). Freud's Unfinished Journey. Conventional and Critical Perspectives in Psychoanalytic Theory: By Louis Breger, Ph.D. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1981. 145 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 52:117-117.

(1983). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 52:117-117

Freud's Unfinished Journey. Conventional and Critical Perspectives in Psychoanalytic Theory: By Louis Breger, Ph.D. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1981. 145 pp.

Review by:
Daniel S. Papernik

In this book, the author's expressed intent is to present a critical examination of psychoanalytic theory in order to clarify major ambiguities and conflicts. We find, however, that his thesis consists of the assertion that Freud's development of psychoanalytic theory is incomplete and unfinished because he chose to remain within a conventional, bourgeois, patriarchal framework rather than moving on to a new, revolutionary, critical world view as the author would have preferred.

The monograph is seriously marred in many respects. For example, Freud's early formulations are treated as though they represent an end point in his thinking rather than working hypotheses which were added to or changed as new clinical material became available. In addition, Breger's terminology is often considerably at variance with that of most psychoanalysts. This not only creates confusion, but it also allows the author to set up "paper tigers" which he can then destroy at will.

Most disturbing is Breger's discussion of Schreber's psychosis. He criticizes Freud for remaining within "the conventional world view," in which psychosis is seen as "sickness" (p. 103). He prefers to regard Schreber's breakdown "as a creative struggle for freedom … a form of self-therapy" (p. 104).

No student of psychoanalysis would say that Freud's sequential formulations and reformulations represent a rigid, closed system of thought. Breger's views are so misleading and idiosyncratic that they are not at all helpful. They misrepresent rather than provide an adequate critique of standard psychoanalytic theory. There are other works that provide a heuristically valuable critique much more closely and convincingly. Rather than succeeding in his goal of clarifying analytic theory, the author of this monograph has, in fact, done the opposite.

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