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Greenberg, D.E. (2018). A review of Cold War Freud: Psychoanalysis in an age of catastrophes, by Dagmar Herzog. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 99(6):1468-1473.

(2018). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 99(6):1468-1473

Book Reviews

A review of Cold War Freud: Psychoanalysis in an age of catastrophes, by Dagmar Herzog

Daniel E. Greenberg

Many factors contributed to the decline of psychoanalysis in the United States from the height of its popularity and influence in the 1950s and 1960s to its present-day attenuated situation. None was more painful to witness and experience than the hostility directed at psychoanalysis from some on the progressive Left. Even in the popular imagination, psychoanalysis became associated with misogyny, homophobia, authoritarianism, and a myopic disregard for broader social and political issues. Psychoanalysis was seen as having little to contribute to the struggles against inequality and privilege. Activists warned friends that in a typical analysis, political activism, the struggle for women’s rights, sexual liberation, homoerotic experience, and much more were likely to be interpreted as symptoms of unresolved oedipal conflicts, narcissistic character pathology, perversions, or worse. Psychoanalysis, once daring and revolutionary, came to be seen as hostile territory for those struggling with and against conformity, accommodation, complacency, and injustice. While a more sympathetic avant-garde worked to integrate psychoanalysis with philosophy, Marxism-socialism, feminism, post-modernism, and the struggle for racial, gender, and sexual equality, these efforts were often little reflected in the US institute-based psychoanalysis of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. The stereotype of the older male analyst, dispensing soul-crushing interpretations from a position of unassailable and unquestioned authority—driving some to despair or madness—had enough truth to it that one had to wonder whether the psychoanalytic community in the United States had deliberately embarked on a path certain to curtail its cultural, social, and political legitimacy.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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