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Allison, G.H. (1987). The Assault on Truth. Freud's Suppression of the Seduction Theory: By Jeffrey Moussaief Masson. New York: Viking Penguin, Inc., 1985. 316 pp. (Originally published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1984.). Psychoanal Q., 56:364-368.

(1987). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 56:364-368

The Assault on Truth. Freud's Suppression of the Seduction Theory: By Jeffrey Moussaief Masson. New York: Viking Penguin, Inc., 1985. 316 pp. (Originally published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1984.)

Review by:
George H. Allison

As time passes since this work first appeared in early 1984, it becomes increasingly curious that Masson could have been convinced that the new material he reveals in it would persuade other than committed Freud detractors that the abandonment of the seduction hypothesis bespoke a lack of courage and integrity on Freud's part. The arguments he adduces are speculative at best. They are connected in part with what was previously published by Schur about Freud's emotional need to defend Fliess and absolve him of culpability in his bungled surgery (and its sequelae) on Freud's patient, Emma Eckstein. Using a polemical style, and at times fanciful reasoning, Masson asserts that Freud's denial of the significance of Emma Eckstein's traumatic experience with his idealized friend laid the groundwork for his renunciation of his ideas about external trauma, particularly childhood seduction, in the etiology of hysteria.

In the course of his argumentation, Masson presents as evidence some previously unpublished letters sent to Fliess in December 1897. These followed the famous letter of September 21, 1897, in which Freud told Fliess that he had relinquished the seduction hypothesis and listed his reasons for doing so. The deleted letters allude to the treatment of a woman patient by Emma Eckstein. Eckstein was apparently consulting with Freud about her patient, in whose case reports of "scenes" of seduction by the father were elicited.

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