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Segal, N. (2004). On Freud's Couch: Seven New Interpretations of Freud's Case Histories edited by Iréne Matthis and Imre Szecsödy, trans. Sheila Smith (Northvale, NJ, and London: Jason Aronson Inc., 1998, xvii + 267 pp); reviewed by Naomi Segal. Psychoanal. Hist., 6(1):123-126.
(2004). Psychoanalysis and History, 6(1):123-126
On Freud's Couch: Seven New Interpretations of Freud's Case Histories edited by Iréne Matthis and Imre Szecsödy, trans. Sheila Smith (Northvale, NJ, and London: Jason Aronson Inc., 1998, xvii + 267 pp); reviewed by Naomi Segal
Review by: Naomi Segal
I want to begin with two quotations:
I have always wondered about Freud's obvious relief when he saw me [at the age of 19] so healthy and happy. Is it true that psychoanalytical treatment of a child is dangerous? Is psychoanalysis dangerous for the child, for the analyst, for the father or the mother? A couple of years after my analysis, my father broke with Freud and later my parents were divorced.
(Herbert Graf (‘Little Hans’) from a letter quoted by Johan Norman, 95)
Like a child, the psychoanalyst believes that he is in possession of a fundamental, hidden secret. Like sexual theories developed by children, psychoanalytical theories take the risk of trying to find the ‘great solutions’ (Pontalis 1981). When a fragment of knowledge is regarded as ‘the whole truth’ the result is ‘pure poetry’.
(Andrzej Werbert, 227)
In many ways, these essays are looking at the ‘pure poetry’ of early psychoanalytical practice, as it exists in the form of Freud's case histories, mainly written during the ‘childhood’ of psychoanalysis, when the urge to build a theory with or against his colleagues was one of Freud's chief motivations. The seven main chapters are the result of a series of lectures given in 1991-94 under the auspices of the Swedish Psychoanalytical Society. In a variety of ways the six authors re-examine Freud's case histories of Frau Emmy, Miss Lucy, Dora, Little Hans, Schreber, the Rat Man and the Wolf Man, revealing as they do so the skills, strategies and mystifications of Freud as clinician, writer and theorist, the pre- and post-history of these patients, and the ways in which speech, writing and interpretation are at every point central to the psychoanalytical project.
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