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Shapiro, T. (1993). Darwin's Influence on Freud: A Tale of Two Sciences: Edited by Lucille B. Ritvo. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press, 1990, 267 pp., $32.00, hardcover; $16.00, paperback.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 41:850-852.

(1993). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 41:850-852

Darwin's Influence on Freud: A Tale of Two Sciences: Edited by Lucille B. Ritvo. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press, 1990, 267 pp., $32.00, hardcover; $16.00, paperback.

Review by:
Theodore Shapiro, M.D.

Among the Freud-bashing critics writing between the 1970's and 1990's, no negative statement has been so persistent as the assertion that Freud was a Lamarckian and therefore not a Darwinian. In the minds of many, this clearly places him among the foolish and the ignorant, and therefore his other ideas are not worthy of continued consideration either. These growl words have tended to denigrate Freud as a nineteenth-century regressive thinker, isolating him from those espousing modern evolutionary thought. These criticisms are rendered because Freud did indeed invoke Lamarckian ideas (but without mentioning him) to support some of his own ideas that link current symptoms to inheritance of earlier experience. His earliest espousal of hysteria as a phylogenetic memory is one such example. But understanding these accusations cannot be taken from the viewpoint of the 1990's. We must look at the intellectual context of the second half of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century to determine Freud's context of discovery.

Lucille Ritvo's exciting, cogent, and scholarly exploration of the evolutionary Zeitgeist after Darwin brings us back to the time when Freud was writing, and examines the late nineteenth-century milieu with the not so astonishing finding that judgments made from looking backward lead to errors. It was not unusual to be a Lamarckian or think as Lamarck thought until 1930. Moreover, Lamarckian theory was not seen as necessarily incompatible with the Darwinian concept of natural selection and evolution—even Darwin invoked use/disuse ideas.

We who were educated in the 1940's and after took for granted that the continuity of the germ plasm was established knowledge always.

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