From Freud's Consulting Room: Unconscious in a Scientific Age

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9780674324527: From Freud's Consulting Room: Unconscious in a Scientific Age
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The science of mind has been plagued by intractable philosophical puzzles, chief among them the distortions of memory and the relation between mind and body. Sigmund Freud's clinical practice forced him to grapple with these problems, and out of that struggle psychoanalysis emerged. "From Freud's Consulting Room" charts the development of his ideas through his clinical work, the successes and failures of his most dramatic and significant case histories, and the creation of a discipline recognizably distinct from its neighbours. In Freud's encounters with hysterical patients, the mind-body problem could not be set aside. Through the case of Anna O., Emmy von N., Elisabeth von R., Dora, and Little Hans, he rethought that problem, as Hughes demonstrates, in terms of psychosexuality. When he tried to sort out the value of memories, with Dora and Little Hans as well as with the Rat Man and the Wolf Man, Freud reintroduced psychosexuality and elaborated the Oedipus complex. Hughes also traces the evolution of Freud's conception of the analytic situation and of the centrality of transference, again through the clinical material, including the case of Freud himself, who at one point figured as his own "chief patient". Moving from case to case, Hughes has coaxed them into telling a coherent story. Her text leads the reader to see the origins and development of psychoanalysis from a new perspective.

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Review:

A meticulous work that does an admirable job of synthesizing Freud's voluminous and complex works. Scholarly and judicious...well-informed studies like this remind us that we ought to grant the data of Freud's consulting room the epistemological and scientific status they deserve. -- W. Craig Tomlinson "Social History of Medicine" A useful and fascinating compendium of the history of psychoanalysis and the evolution of psychoanalytic theory, as it incrementally emerged from Freud's couch, that is, from the analysis of his patients. -- Gerald Amada, Ph.D "American Journal of Psychotherapy" It has taken nearly a century, Judith Hughes points out, for the study of psychoanalytic history to pass from the private preserve of psychoanalysts into the domain of the history of science. This book is to be welcomed as part of that movement. In it, Hughes has skillfully extracted the conceptual pollen from Freud's clinical observations and produced clarified philosophical honey..."From Freud's Consulting Room" presents a familiar complex web of clinical description, but the author has succeeded in her task of organizing it along philosophical axes. This is no bowdlerization of Freud, rather a strong and discriminating light on him. -- Stephen Wilson "Times Literary Supplement" Hughes traces the development of Freud's thinking about the mind-body problem, the role of trauma in the disposition to neurosis, the unreliability of memory, and the compelling prose of the psychoanalytic narrative--following him from the positivist days of his early physiological training through the tangles of both clinical practice and self-analysis. Each of Freud's major case histories is read against the others and his theoretical concerns...Hughes has an original and acute understanding of the issues and reports her findings in clear and interesting prose--producing an account that will engage the Freud scholar, aid the literary critic or historian, and point the student to the crucial material in the Freud corpus. By offering a portrait of Freud and his ideas, constructed from the case histories of his patients, as well as Freud's most important patient, himself, Hughes provides a compelling argument for the gestation and birth of Freud's theories from his medical experiences with his patients. Hughes has taken Freud's advice, as he suggested for understanding patients, and 'like a conscientious archaeologist' she has recognized in Freud's words 'in each case where the authentic parts end' and his 'constructions begin.' By so doing, she has demonstrated the origin of psychoanalysis within the domain of traditional philosophical problems restated and understood in terms of the unconscious...Hughes' development of her argument in Freud's case histories places our understanding of the birth of psychoanalysis as close to its actual origin as we may ever attain. -- Charles R. King, M.D "Women & Health" "From Freud's Consulting Room" is rich with detail about Freud's clinical work and the historical context within which it took place...[It] is not an exercise in scriptural exegesis, but a live and thoughtful contribution to the understanding of psychoanalysis as it unfolded in response to Freud's clinical work. -- Miles F. Shore "Journal of Interdisciplinary History" An appealingly crafted and highly accessible account of how Freud's encounters with suffering patients led him to define a domain of psychoanalytic investigation and practice distinct from those claimed by the medical and psychological disciplines of his day...[This work] should attract readers interested in psychoanalysis' foundations and justification, topics currently of tremendous importance in the face of pressure from the reductionist medical and psychological treatment models supported by cost-minimizing insurance interests. -- William R. Earnest, Ph.D "Psychoanalytic Books" [Hughes] traces the development of Freud's thinking about the mind-body problem, the role of trauma in the disposition to neurosis, the unreliability of memory, and the compelling prose of the psychoanalytic narrative--following him from the positivist days of his early physiological training through the tangles of both clinical practice and self-analysis. Each of Freud's major case histories is read against the others and his theoretical concerns...Hughes has an original and acute understanding of the issues and reports her findings in clear and interesting prose--producing an account that will engage the Freud scholar, aid the literary critic or historian, and point the student to the crucial material in the Freud corpus.

About the Author:

Judith M. Hughes, Professor of History at the University of California, San Diego.

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