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Richards, A. (2008). Putnam Camp: Sigmund Freud, James Jackson Putnam, and the Purpose of American Psychology by George Prochnik Other Press, New York, 2006; 471 pp; $29.95. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 89(1):199-202.

(2008). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 89(1):199-202

Book Reviews

Putnam Camp: Sigmund Freud, James Jackson Putnam, and the Purpose of American Psychology by George Prochnik Other Press, New York, 2006; 471 pp; $29.95

Review by:
Arnold Richards

George Prochnik, the son of a Viennese Jew and the great-grandson of James Jackson Putnam, has written a fascinating account of the relationship between his great-grandfather, a Boston Brahmin neurologist, and Sigmund Freud, the Viennese Jewish neurologist who founded psychoanalysis. Putnam's association with Freud began during Freud's trip to the United States to deliver a series of lectures on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the founding of Clark University in Worcester, Mass.

Though Putnam had been interested in Freud's work for several years and had read most of Freud's published papers at the time of their first encounter, he had misgivings about Freud's psychoanalysis as a method of treatment. Prochnik writes: ““He felt that analysis took too much time and demanded too thorough and degrading a generation of patients' histories to constitute any sort of redemption of psychotherapy”. Prochnik continues, “Elements of the treatment could be useful, but nothing truly seized the higher Bostonians' imagination”.

However, in Worcester, when Putnam heard Freud's lectures, he found them riveting. Putnam was so affected by his encounter with Freud that he invited Freud, Jung and Ferenczi to spend a weekend with him at his family compound in the Adirondacks (near Keene, NY) just so that he would be able to spend more time with Freud. Much has been written about Freud's visit to the Adirondacks, his encounter there with nature, his search for a porcupine (he found a dead one), and his game of tether ball with Francis, Putnam's 12 year-old child.

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