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Nickoloff, S.E. (2003). The Freud Encyclopedia: Theory, Therapy and Culture. Edited by Edward Erwin. New York: Routledge, 2002, 665 pp., $165.00.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 51(3):1083-1087.
(2003). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 51(3):1083-1087
Book Reviews: Freud's Legacy
The Freud Encyclopedia: Theory, Therapy and Culture. Edited by Edward Erwin. New York: Routledge, 2002, 665 pp., $165.00.
Review by: Steven E. Nickoloff
Choosing a title for a book, as any editor can attest, is tricky business. It is helpful if the title is appealing, has a nice, catchy ring, and suggests that the book will be of use to the purchaser. What is crucial, however, is that the title accurately reflect the contents—that what is advertised be more or less what is actually delivered.
I bring this up by way of introducing Edward Erwin's The Freud Encyclopedia: Theory, Therapy and Culture, a recent arrival in the genre of encyclopedic reference works on psychoanalysis. It is a large hardcover volume, graced with a prominent black-and-white cover photograph of a forty-something Freud, with over six hundred pages of two-column text and a lengthy list of contributors (nearly two hundred). Many authors are well known, others less so, and overall the book has an international flavor. The typical entry is one or two pages, though there is a great deal of variation; all entries are footnoted, some extensively, and the index is unusually well detailed. The title leads us to expect a straightforward focus on Freud's psychoanalytic contributions and life, with some forays into related cultural issues and context, and to a point this is what we get. As it happens, however, we get something different and something more.
To begin with the more straightforward aspects, this encyclopedia has the expected entries on the major psychoanalytic principles, theoretical concepts, and treatment issues, written for the most part by prominent clinical psychoanalysts. I found the majority of such entries to be well-written, concise, and useful. To note a few representative examples, chosen more or less at random: Stephen Cooper's three-page piece on conflicts is an excellent overview, clearly detailing Freud's evolving theory of conflict and defense (leading to the structural theory) and progressing to post-Freudian conceptualizations.
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