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Thomson, J. (1989). Roith, Estelle. The Riddle of Freud. Jewish Influences on his Theory of Female Sexuality. London and New York, Tavistock, The New Library of Psychoanalysis, Vol. 4, 1987. Pp. 199.. J. Anal. Psychol., 34(1):105-107.

(1989). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 34(1):105-107

Roith, Estelle. The Riddle of Freud. Jewish Influences on his Theory of Female Sexuality. London and New York, Tavistock, The New Library of Psychoanalysis, Vol. 4, 1987. Pp. 199.

Review by:
Jean Thomson

Unlike Emilie Jung, the similarly named Amalie, Freud's mother, is hardly mentioned in the history of psychoanalysis, as if Freud did not actually have a mother. In Esther Roith's book her influence as a dominant parent is discussed both in its effect on her only son's inner world and in her role in their Jewish family in transition from one culture to another.

There is so much interesting material succinctly written in this book and with a great deal of reference to a wide range of sources, that it is hard to select from it. I recommend it to anyone interested in the derivations of analytic theories about women's psychology. The author traces a path through the vicissitudes of late nineteenth and twentieth-century conflict and Jewish migration, through differences within Judaic culture, through the writings of several authors on Freudian psychoanalytic developments, through Freud's personal experience and through his family's relationships, affected as they were by their position as first generation immigrants in Vienna.

Freud is well known to have been ambivalent about his Jewish roots, and perhaps the most interesting thread in this book is the account of the effect on him of his growing up in the cosmopolitan Vienna of the late nineteenth century with family hopes that he, the only son, among five sisters, could expunge their history of East European shtetl life.

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