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Bergmann, M.S. (1983). Jewish Origins of the Psychoanalytic Movement: By Dennis B. Klein. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1981. 198 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 52:289-291.

(1983). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 52:289-291

Jewish Origins of the Psychoanalytic Movement: By Dennis B. Klein. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1981. 198 pp.

Review by:
Martin S. Bergmann

Since the creator of psychoanalysis was a Jew, the extent to which psychoanalysis is rooted in the Jewish tradition has been the source of heated controversy. On the one hand, there is Jewish pride that would like to claim Freud as an heir to the Jewish tradition. On the other hand, there is the Nazi accusation that psychoanalysis is a Jewish invention, designed to corrupt innocent Aryans. In theory, there need not be any connection between the sociological origins of psychoanalysis and the validity of its findings. However, this line of demarcation is seldom honored.

Freud himself felt that the resistance against psychoanalysis would have been less had it not been discovered by a Jew. Elsewhere this reviewer pointed out that the Jewish tradition to which Freud was heir was that of the Jewish enlightenment (Haskala in Hebrew). This movement equated Judaism with the religion of reason. Freud's own sense of Jewish identity was expressed by a term he coined when he called himself a "Jewish infidel."

The main thesis of the book under review, which echoes Freud's own title of 1914, can be summarized as follows. By the end of the nineteenth century the faith of the Viennese Jews in the ability of liberalism and enlightenment to put an end to anti-Semitism was shaken. The infidel Jews, to use Freud's term for those Jews who lost their religious ties, turned either to socialism or to Zionism as solutions to the Jewish problem. Klein suggests that Jews were attracted to psychoanalysis because it, too, offered the hope of overcoming anti-Semitism.

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