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Pollack, A. Rizzuto, A. (1999). Freud and His Aphasia Book: Language and the Sources of Psychoanalysis: Valerie D. Greenberg, Ithaca, NY and London: Cornell University Press, 1997, 203 pp., $32.50.. Neuropsychoanalysis, 1(2):255-258.

(1999). Neuropsychoanalysis, 1(2):255-258

Freud and His Aphasia Book: Language and the Sources of Psychoanalysis: Valerie D. Greenberg, Ithaca, NY and London: Cornell University Press, 1997, 203 pp., $32.50.

Review by:
Alan Pollack

Ana-María Rizzuto, M.D.

Valerie D. Greenberg, a professor of German at Tulane University, joins the scholars exploring Freud's early writings in order to deepen the understanding of his great creation, psychoanalysis. Greenberg has chosen to research Freud's first book titled in English On Aphasia (1953) and in German Zur Auffassung der Aphasien: Eine Kritische Studie (1891) (On Interpretation of the Aphasias: A Critical Study). Greenberg's aim is twofold: to “fill the gaps” remaining in relation to understanding Freud as a neurologist and researcher, and to trace “the origins of psychoanalysis in late-nineteenth-century intellectual culture, particularly the preoccupation with language” (p. 1). Freud's On Aphasia has not received the attention it deserves as “a rarity among medical treatises of its time for its combination of self-conscious composition, rigorous argument, and pointed rhetorical effects, as well as for the audacity of its agenda” (p. 2).

The late nineteenth century was fascinated by the questions posed by aphasic patients, whose disturbances challenge the understanding of neurologists, pathologists, scientists, philosophers, and linguists. The tentative answers to such questions touched upon the nature of the brain and its functioning, the structure of words and language, and the theory of mind—body relations. An international community of aphasia scholars in France, England, Germany, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the United States were steeped in each other's books and papers.

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