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Barnett, B. (1997). Freud and Judaism. : Edited by David Meghnagi. London: Karnac Books. 1993. Pp. 174.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 78:399-400.

(1997). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 78:399-400

Freud and Judaism. : Edited by David Meghnagi. London: Karnac Books. 1993. Pp. 174.

Review by:
Bernard Barnett

Freud and Judaism is the result of publishing the proceedings of a seminar held in Milan in May 1989. It is made up of a number of articles by various authors on such issues as Nazism, death, ethics, humour, research, assimilation and anti-Semitism. According to its editor, David Meghnagi, the general aim of the book is to seek ‘realistic and practical answers’ to certain questions about psychoanalysis and its connection with ‘Jewish origins and Jewish destiny’.

This ambitious aim has not, in my view, been achieved and the reasons for this are the familiar ones when a project of this kind is attempted. Firstly, I think that the editor and contributors have not been successful in tackling the difficult problem of transforming the conference proceedings into a coherent and unified whole that would interest and inform a professional and lay readership. Instead the book has turned out to be a hotch-potch of essays of very uneven quality that often seem to me to be only loosely related to either ‘Freud’ or ‘Judaism’.

That many of the contributors are Italians writing in English seems to have led, unfortunately, to some passages being obscure and even nonsensical. What may have been clear and interesting in an oral presentation at a conference has clearly lost its meaning in the production of a written text, especially when the ‘everlasting sentence’ is the preferred style. One of many examples is the following passage:

In this case psychoanalysis and certain psychoanalysts would become the object, rather than the subject, of proselytism—unless the ‘projective assimilation’, instead of taking the more numerous ways, which have in any case a defensive outcome from the inside point of view and an offensive outcome from the point of view of relationships, takes the way of an evolutional outcome, both at an intra-group and an inter-group level (by analogy with what may be deduced from clinical examples at an intra- and inter-individual level) (p.

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