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Wagner, T. (2018). Cold War Freud: Psychoanalysis in an Age of Catastrophes. By Dagmar Herzog. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017, 311 pp.. Psychoanal. Rev., 105(5):567-575.

(2018). Psychoanalytic Review, 105(5):567-575


Cold War Freud: Psychoanalysis in an Age of Catastrophes. By Dagmar Herzog. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017, 311 pp.

Review by:
Thomas Wagner, M.A., LPsyA, NCPsyA

Dagmar Herzog is a historian who has acquired an encyclopedic knowledge of psychoanalysis and who is able to shape its contemporary epoch into a broad, complex historical narrative with a minimum of jargon, truisms, or obtuse digressions. George Markari's (2008) groundbreaking Revolution in Mind gave psychoanalysis a historical context by placing Freud in an extended arch of developing ideas that began well before he arrived and which he intermingled with his own insights as he was developing his movement. Cold War Freud takes us to the other end of the legacy—to the period following Freud's death in 1939, especially to the volatility of political, cultural, and intellectual history following World War II. In this regard the book touches on a number of the historical-cultural influences discussed in Aron and Starr's (2013) book, A Psychotherapy for the People, such as the early dominance of American psychoanalysis by psychiatry, the role of psychoanalytic psychiatrists in treating the casualties of World War II, the influx of European Jewish refugees, the exclusivity of race and class, and the increasing presence of women in the profession. Herzog ventures into a number of other areas that are fresh, invigorating, and deeply informative. Especially illuminating is an account of European intellectual history involving a number of influential figures unknown to most Americans, even those familiar with Lacan's work: Mitscherlich, Deleuze, Guattari, Morgenthaler, the Parins, among others. Herzog's account of this feisty mix will make the present state of affairs in psychoanalysis a good deal more comprehensible.

Despite the dozens of successful and failed purges resulting from the movement's pressures to be true to orthodoxy, many psychoanalysts could not be restrained from satisfying their curiosity and desire to attain insights from philosophy, sociology, anthropology, literature, and, most of all, the march of history—and integrate them into their work.

[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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