Synopses & Reviews
is the story of the young Freud—Freud up until the age of fifty—that incorporates all of Freuds many misgivings about the art of biography. Freud invented a psychological treatment that involved the telling and revising of life stories, but he was himself skeptical of the writing of such stories. In this biography, Adam Phillips, whom the New Yorker
calls “Britains foremost psychoanalytical writer,” emphasizes the largely and inevitably undocumented story of Freuds earliest years as the oldest—and favored—son of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe and suggests that the psychoanalysis Freud invented was, among many other things, a psychology of the immigrant—increasingly, of course, everybodys status in the modern world.
Psychoanalysis was also Freuds way of coming to terms with the fate of the Jews in Europe in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. So as well as incorporating the writings of Freud and his contemporaries, Becoming Freud also uses the work of historians of the Jews in Europe in this significant period in their lives, a period of unprecedented political freedom and mounting persecution. Phillips concludes by speculating what psychoanalysis might have become if Freud had died in 1906, before the emergence of a psychoanalytic movement over which he had to preside.
"Renowned psychoanalyst Phillips (One Way and Another) conjures up a vibrant portrait of Sigmund Freud, examining psychiatry's most famous figure as it contends with the difficulties of placing his life in biographic form. In contrast to the more popular focus on an older Freud, Phillips introduces us to a younger version: the eldest son of Jewish immigrants, gifted but troubled by childhood trauma, whose future ideas were founded upon these aspects of his upbringing. And so the emergence of psychoanalysis comes at the end of this story, implying that the widely influential school of thought is merely one aspect of Freud's larger story. The book's brevity speaks, perhaps, to the ways in which Freud's life resists complete documentation; in fact, biography represents the very type of reshaped and repurposed story of the past that Freud so famously attributed to dreams. Phillips's perspective, then, becomes openly interpretive, taken not as historical fact but rather as exploratory speculation of the very blatant ambiguities surrounding Freud's life. Much like psychoanalysis itself, this book does not seek to claim and advance any singular sense of truth; instead, it encourages us to relish in the illuminations, indeed the very uncertainties of the process. As such, it's a biography that might even have received the approval of Freud himself. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From one of the worlds foremost authorities on Sigmund Freud comes a strikingly original biography of the father of psychoanalysis
About the Author
Praise for Adam Phillips
Adam Phillips is one of the richest and most rewarding essayists of our time." Los Angeles Times
Phillips has made psychoanalytic thought livelier and more poetic than ever.”New York Times
The curious thing about reading Phillips is that he makes you feel smart and above the daily grind at the same time as he reassures you that you are not alone in your primal anxieties about whether you are lovable or nuts or, perhaps, merely boring.” New York Times Magazine
Adam Phillips writes with far-sighted equanimity. . . . Hes a little like an Oliver Sacks of psychoanalysis, both affable and unalarmed.” Boston Sunday Globe
[Phillips is] one of the finest prose stylists at work in the language, an Emerson of our time.” John Banville
"Phillipss authority as a writer comes in no small part from his own experience as a highly regarded therapist." Boston Globe
"[Phillips is] adept at making the complex comprehensible.”Independent
In Phillips hands, nothing is as ordinary as it appears to be. Each essay is a kind of mystery tour; you never know where you are going to end up.”Times Literary Supplement
[Phillips has] punched lovely skylights into the gloomy Freudian edifice and in general done much to rehabilitate the psychoanalytic enterprise by honoring the idiosyncrasy of human experience and by wielding method lightly, playfully, humanely.”Esquire