Becoming Freud is the story of the young Freud—Freud up until the age of fifty—that incorporates all of Freud’s 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 “Britain’s foremost psychoanalytical writer,” emphasizes the largely and inevitably undocumented story of Freud’s 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, everybody’s status in the modern world.
Psychoanalysis was also Freud’s 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.
Adam Phillips is former Principal Child Psychotherapist at Charing Cross Hospital, London, and is now a psychoanalyst in private practice. His most recent book is One Way and Another: New and Selected Essays.
Table of Contents
1 Freud's Impossible Life: An Introduction 1
2 Freud from the Beginning 29
3 Freud Goes to Paris 80
4 Freud Begins to Dream 99
5 Psychoanalysis Comes Out 122
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. . . . He’s 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
"Phillips’s 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
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