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Groopman, L. (1994). The Cambridge Companion to Freud: Edited by Jerome Neu. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1991, 356 pp., $17.95 (paperback).. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 42:910-912.
(1994). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 42:910-912
The Cambridge Companion to Freud: Edited by Jerome Neu. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1991, 356 pp., $17.95 (paperback).
Review by: Leonard Groopman, M.D.
If the academic parlor game of the hedgehog and the fox, made popular decades ago by Isaiah Berlin's essay of that name, were being played today, where would Freud find himself? Among the hedgehogs, thinkers such as Dante, Plato, Spinoza, and Hegel, who "know one big thing" and "relate everything to a single central vision"; or in the company of the foxes, Aristotle, Erasmus, Shakespeare, Balzac, who "know many things" and "pursue many ends, often unrelated and even contradictory"? This collection of essays by historians, philosophers, anthropologists, sociologists, and even a couple of psychoanalysts, emphasizes Freud's foxness and shifts the weight, if not the balance, away from his hedgehog reputation.
The variety of perspectives brought by the authors of the essays may itself account for the surprising sense of Freud as Berlinian fox with which this reader was left. The essays are too diverse in aim, depth, and quality to point in any single direction or convey a single message. Some, like Gerald Izenberg's essay on "The Rise and Fall of Freud's Seduction Theory," emphasize the internal imperatives of Freud's evolving theory in explaining why he changed his mind. Others, like Bennett Simon and Rachel Blass, argue the opposite in their discussion of the development of Freud's ideas on the Oedipus complex, invoking personal and professional factors that contributed to his changing thoughts on Oedipus. But the leitmotif of several of these essays—the better ones—is the multiplicity, ambiguity, rich suggestiveness, and openendedness of much of Freud's thinking.
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