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Tuckett, D. (1999). Cassandra's Daughter: A History of Psychoanalysis in Europe and America: Joseph Schwartz. London: Allen Lane, Penguin Press. 1999. Pp. 339. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 80(6):1247-1250.

(1999). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 80(6):1247-1250

Cassandra's Daughter: A History of Psychoanalysis in Europe and America: Joseph Schwartz. London: Allen Lane, Penguin Press. 1999. Pp. 339

Review by:
David Tuckett

Joseph Schwartz's short book is enjoyable and daring: in scope and in subject matter. An American who initially trained as a physicist, Schwartz worked for fifteen years in mental health research before becoming a psychotherapist and a professional writer in England. He writes well and his book is easy to read and to study. He is writing for a general audience beyond the psychoanalytic enclave.

Schwartz believes that psychoanalysis (for him the attempt over the past hundred years to understand the structure and dynamics of the inner world of the experiencing human being) is arguably the most important intellectual development of the twentieth century. He is aware that this belief is controversial (particularly in medical, psychology and establishment circles) to the extent that the Freudian project has repeatedly been attacked as a swindle. He is interested in the prejudices he considers to make it so: broadly, these are naïve and inaccurate ideas as to what constitutes a valid claim to knowledge in the study of human subjective experience as well as a deep and entrenched terror of all human subjectivity and emotion. Intriguingly he argues how the latter is evident in the right-wing political attacks on psychoanalysis, whether in 1920s Hungary, 1930s Germany or 1970s Argentina.

For Schwartz ‘science’ is the effort to build a body of secure understanding based on knowledge rather than belief (see also Britton, 1995). His argument to show that psychoanalysis is a scientific project includes a novel strand of argument about what has often been called the ‘ecological fallacy”—the attempt to analyse phenomena at the wrong level.

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