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Trosman, H. (1993). Freud: A Life for our Time: By Peter Gay. New York: Norton, 1988, xx + 810 pp., $25.00.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 41:829-837.

(1993). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 41:829-837

Freud: A Life for our Time: By Peter Gay. New York: Norton, 1988, xx + 810 pp., $25.00.

Review by:
Harry Trosman, M.D.

Psychoanalysts may claim a special status in evaluating a biography of Freud. The sharing of a common occupation and similar mental construction, the commitment to basic intellectual assumptions such as the value attached to the findings of the clinical situation which for the analyst is bedrock—such points of similarity heighten the interest in the person who created the field and provided the legacy. The analyst looks carefully to note whether the biographer appreciates the quality of the achievement, and understands the mode of thought. Suffice it to say, Gay has done a competent job. He has benefited from the opportunity to examine sources that the two major previous biographers, Jones and Clark, have not used. Now that the Freud Archives at the Library of Congress have been partially opened, they have provided a valued source for additional documentation previously unavailable. In addition, Gay has had access to previously unpublished correspondence, the Eitingon and Ferenczi correspondence, and an extensive correspondence between Freud and his nephew Samuel Freud, who lived in Manchester. He has retranslated some of the original German where Strachey and other translators needed more clarity, and he has even been able to read Freud's handwriting in holograph. He has written a biography characteristic of a psychoanalytically oriented historian. He is sensitive to the political, social, and economic conditions through which Freud lived and how they affected his personal life.

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