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Freud And His Critics
by Paul A. Robinson
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From Publishers Weekly
In a witty, densely argued critique, Stanford University historian Robinson ( The Freudian Left ) levels the accusations of prominent anti-Freudians Frank Sulloway, Jeffrey Masson and Adolf Grunbaum. Sulloway, a sociobiologist, contends that Freud was a "crypto-biologist" whose ideas were rooted in evolutionary biology from Darwin to Edward O. Wilson. But the secret biological rationale Sulloway purports to find in Freud doesn't exist, counters Robinson. Former psychoanalyst Masson claims that psychoanalysis was founded through Freud's cowardly cover-up of his discoveries about the sexual abuse of children; Robinson faults Masson for a glaring lack of documentation. Grunbaum, a philosopher, charges that Freud's theories are inadequately supported by evidence, but Robinson replies that Freud refused to trim his imagination to suit the strict empirical canons of modern science. This corrective broadside is a valuable companion piece to Sulloway's Freud, Biologist of the Mind , Masson's The Assault on Truth and Grunbaum's The Foundations of Psychoanalysis.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
In recent years, a number of charges have been leveled at the character and ideas of Sigmund Freud. In this book, Robinson addresses the concerns of three of the leading critics: Frank Sulloway, who reinterprets Freud as a sort of early sociobiologist; Jeffrey Masson, who claims that Freud's abandonment of the seduction theory in favor of the theory of infant sexuality was a cowardly acquiescence to pressure from the Vienna medical establishment; and Adolf Grunbaum, who argues that the idea of the unconscious is based upon shaky evidence. The book presupposes some knowledge of psychoanalytic theory, but Robinson does an excellent job of explaining his opponents' arguments as well as his own. While few American academic psychologists are concerned with Freudian theory, this book will be useful for scholars of philosophy and the humanities. Recommended for academic and research collections as a readable summary of current debate on Freudian theory.
- Mary Ann Hughes, Washing ton State Univ. Libs., Pullman
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Wars against Freud have been waged along virtually every front during the past decade. Now Paul Robinson takes on three of Freud's most formidable critics, mounting a thoughtful, witty, and ultimately devastating critique of the historian of science Frank Sulloway, the psychoanalyst Jeffrey Masson, and the philosopher Adolf Grünbaum.
Frank Sulloway contends that Freud took most of his ideas from Darwin and other contemporary thinkers--that he was something of a closet biologist. Jeffrey Masson charges that Freud caved in to peer pressure when he abandoned his early seduction theory (which Masson believes was correct) in favor of the theory of infantile sexuality. Adolf Grünbaum impugns Freud's claim to have grounded his ideas--especially the idea of the unconscious--on solid empirical foundations.
Under Robinson's rigorous cross-examination, the evidence of these three accusers proves ambiguous and their arguments biased by underlying assumptions and ideological commitments. Robinson concludes that the anti-Freudian writings of Sulloway, Masson, and Grünbaum reveal more about their authors' prejudices--and about the Zeitgeist of the past decade--than they do about Freud.
Beautifully crafted and full of surprises, Robinson's work is a compelling defense of one of history's most original and powerful minds. Freud and His Critics will earn an enduring place in the raging Freudian debate.
From the Inside Flap
"A work of major interest to both scholars and general readers, splendidly conceived and splendidly executed."--Judith Hughes, author of Reshaping the Psychoanalytic Domain
"With admirable clarity, Paul Robinson painstakingly reconstructs and then relentlessly dismantles the arguments of Freud's most tenacious and recent debunkers. The results stunningly vindicate the abiding power of psychoanalysis as a master discourse of our age."--Martin Jay, Professor of History, UC Berkeley"A magnificent contribution to the ever-growing and discordant industry of Freud scholarship. Robinson incisively assesses the critiques of three of the most formidable Freud adversaries--Sulloway, who would recast Freud as a crypto-biologist, heir to Darwin and forerunner to modern sociobiology; Masson, who faults Freud as a failed social reformer and a presumed moral coward; and Greenbaum, who sees Freud as a positivistic natural scientist unequal to his chosen task--and persuasively demonstrates the differing ways in which they each thoroughly misread Freud, each (differently) building the most unsubstantial of revisionary arguments. Their greatest 'crime,' in Robinson's perspective, and this they share in common, is a fundamental trivialization of the towering genius who more than any other single individual has shaped the modern sensibility and has been the most important modern theorist of the individual."--Robert S. Wallerstein, M.D., Past President, International Psychoanalytical Association
From the Back Cover
"A work of major interest to both scholars and general readers, splendidly conceived and splendidly executed." (Judith Hughes, author of Reshaping the Psychoanalytic Domain)
About the Author
Paul Robinson is Professor of History at Stanford University and the author of The Freudian Left (1969), The Modernization of Sex (1979), and Opera and Ideas (1985).
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