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Brody, B. (1976). Freud's Analysis of American Culture. Psychoanal. Rev., 63(3):361-377.

(1976). Psychoanalytic Review, 63(3):361-377

Freud's Analysis of American Culture

Benjamin Brody

Here is an American anecdote: Two not particularly scrupulous business men had succeeded, by dint of a series of highly risky enterprises, in amassing a large fortune, and they were now making efforts to push their way into good society. One method, which struck them as a highly likely one, was to have their portraits painted by the most celebrated highly paid artist in the city, whose pictures had an immense reputation. The precious canvases were shown for the first time at a large evening party, and the two hosts themselves led the most influential connoisseur and art-critic up to the wall upon which the portraits were hanging side by side, to extract his admiring judgment on them. He studied the works for a long time, and then, shaking his head, as though there was something he had missed, pointed to the gap between the pictures and asked quietly: “But where's the Saviour?”

—FREUD, Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious12


For about forty years—half of its entire historypsychoanalysis has been largely an American product enjoying a cultural influence, scientific interest, and political power never dreamed of in its native Vienna or attained in Europe. Freud has become an American ikon rivaled only by technology in his appeal to American sensibility and faith.

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