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In the Freud Archives Includes an afterword by the author In the Freud Archives tells the story of an unlikely encounter among three men K R Eissler the venerable doyen of psychoanalysis; Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson a flamboyant restless forty two year old Sanskrit scholar turned psychoanalyst turned virulent anti Freudian; and Peter Swales a mischievous thirty five year old former assistant to the Rolling Stones and self taught Freud scholar At the center of their Oedipal drama are the Sigmund Freud Archives founded headed and jealously guarded by Eissler whose sealed treasure gleams and beckons to the community of Freud scholarship as if it were the Rhine goldJanet Malcolm's fascinating book first appeared some twenty years ago when it was immediately recognized as a rare and remarkable work of nonfiction A story of infatuation and disappointment betrayal and revenge In the Freud Archives is essentially a comedy But the powerful presence of Freud himself and the harsh bracing air of his ideas about unconscious life hover over the narrative and give it a tragic dimension

  • Paperback
  • 162 pages
  • In the Freud Archives
  • Janet Malcolm
  • English
  • 19 July 2016
  • 9781590170274

10 thoughts on “In the Freud Archives

  1. says:

    THE VERY BRAINY PIGLETThis book had as many twists and turns as a very brainy greased piglet and it's hard to write a review as we are talking about Lofty Matters here But here goes At the time Sigmund Freud was figuring out his vast theories he was one uack amongst many uacks His theories were later accepted by many and his fellow uacks were consigned to the bin of history so that makes him Not A uack This is a very important fact The crux of the argument around which this book pivots so gracefully speaking as a Freudian ignoramus I have read maybe two introductions to Freud is as follows THE SEDUCTION THEORY NO PIGLETS INVOLVED In the beginning Freud treats women suffering from hysteria I think we would now call this neurosis He hypnotises them No not with his personal charm with actual hypnosis They tell him under hypnosis stories of sexual abuse inflicted upon them by their male family members usually the father Freud is staggered and comes up with his Seduction Theory The abuse suffered by these women has caused their hysteria Sounds logical But he uses the word seduction when we would use the word abuse or rape and so right there we have a problem Seduction? Did he mean any of the implications we now hear in this word? Don't know So then three years later he changed his mind For various reasons he abandoned the Seduction Theory and concluded that all this stuff he was hearing was fantasy made up by the patient the neurotic symptoms were not related directly to actual events but to wishful fantasies SF So then he came upon his whole Oedipus complex theory c and thereby invented psychoanalysis ANOTHER VERY BRAINY PIGLETTime passes as does Dr Freud and his ten tons of manuscripts and letters are placed in an archive which becomes known as the archive It resides in the Freud Museum in London In the 1970s along comes the antihero of this book shagadelic Jeffrey Masson who by enormous zest and charm becomes adopted by the grizzled Dr Eissler as the next Keeper of the Freud Archive All the older staid analysts in the Freud business are insanely affronted like as if Mick Jagger just slept with their daughter and she bragged about it It's so easy to have fun with the Freudians But sexy young Masson has his imp of the perverse working day and night for him and whilst on probation for this ultimate job does lectures and interviews and articles in which he denounces Freud yes according to Masson the sexual abuse spoken of by Freud's patients was real not fantasy and Freud rejected the Seduction Theory simply because it was fatal for psychoanalysis This accusation is stunning I am not aware of any great denunciations of Freud by feminists but as soon as modern feminists themselves became aware of the prevalence of sexual abuse of children suppressed by society for so many years they should have been all over Freud like a nasty rash exposing him as one of the chief deniers of the unpleasant facts about the abuse of children Maybe they were I don't get out much Anyway according to Masson psychoanalysts proceed on the understanding that there is no essential difference between fantasy and reality that it doesn't really matter if abuse has taken place or not the point is to get the patient to a place where she is not being crippled by her perceived problem Not sure if that's correct but there's a whole Recovered MemoryFalse Memory industry out there willing to argue the point in court Man this stuff is thorny No hard to keep hold of like a piglet No sense in changing metaphors nowTHE THIRD AND FINAL PIGLET Unfortunately for me this book is about the big rift between the various personalities here Masson Eissler and another weird character the former Rolling Stones gofer turned punk historian seriously Peter J Swales Therefore it is a meeting about a meeting and once I got a third way through this I did not want to bother with these curous people any I wanted to find out what has happened to the Seduction Theory in modern psychothinking So yes this book is a splendid piece of journalism but by reading it I found it wasn't the book I should have been reading That's ironic right? one reason that in a world of escalating antisemitism and given that all his patients were Jewish a theory which flatly stated that there was a lot of sexual abuse going on within families would be just grist for the Nazi mill

  2. says:

    Surprisingly given the rather strange and narrow topic a fascinating book not just on Freud but on academic narcissism and on the psychology of heresy

  3. says:

    Fun I mean certainly not of interest to everyone but if you've ever given half a shit about Freud which you should and if the idea of reading about a bunch of lunatic analysts and deranged academic infighting doesn't actively turn you off I definitely recommend In the Freud Archives Also it might enhance enjoyment if you've got ties to Berkeley or Manhattan There is an Oscar winning screenplay waiting to be plucked from these pages Helen Mirren will get best supporting actress for her role as Anna Freud I can't wait to see it so hurry up and adapt It won't break any box office records but several notable critics might gush themselves to deathAnyway note that this book is incredibly short I'd always pictured it being kind of long and footnotey but it's basically a long New Yorker article not a scholarly book If I'd realized how short and readable this was I might've read it a long time ago It's really the most entertaining thing that I've read in awhile

  4. says:

    One of my favorite books of all time Janet Malcolm writes with a poison pen but sees with extreme lucidity She is a searchlight in a greenhouse withering whatever catches her attention Here she turns her vision on a favorite subject the world of psychoanalysis A controversy between a trio of psychoanalysts becomes an exploration of ambition intellectual obsession the practice of and institutions around psychoanalysis the problems of historyThe subject of the conflict is the birth of psychoanalytic theory in Vienna Three men become obsessed with its historical interpretation heroic origin myth or secret scandal The battleground is the Freud Archives the collection of Freud's unpublished works housed in his last home and carefully guarded by his daughter Anna Freud The three men go at each other like three knights each trying to climb braids hanging from a towerThe keyphrase here is the truth is better than fiction it is just harder to write well

  5. says:

    I just want to remember how happy I felt reading this in Lyon surrounded by people and in proximity to fawn flowers and spring in the air A beautiful calmness

  6. says:

    Were I to rate a book solely in terms of readability and interest this one would get a five The topic JM Masson's dispute with the Freud Archives however is of less than world historical importance Having had some exposure to the psychoanalytic community while studying depth psychology in NYC and having read Masson's book on the affair Assault on the Truth I found it fascinating reading it cover to cover in a single sitting Now I want to go ahead and read of Masson and Swales on psychoanalysisThe dispute around which this book centers was primarily caused by Archive Director Masson's claim to the NY Times that Freud had suppressed evidence about the etiological importance of childhood sexual experiences 'abuse' with older relatives substituting for it his theories of infantile sexuality and Oedipal conflict in other word those theories which are arguably central to psychoanalysisIn fact Freud did move from a to a less accepting attitude towards analysand's stories of childhood sex abuse at around the end of the nineteenth century Masson's claim of suppression is exaggerated if taken to mean that Freud consciously distorted evidence though it may be the case that his growing reluctance to take such memories at face value was overdetermined by personal psychological factors such as his own illicit sexual experiences the fact that the supposed sexual preditors were often the same men who were paying their daughter's bills and a general social antipathy towards anyone repeating and believingsuch claims This notwithstanding Freud never denied that there were indubitable cases of childhood sex abuse He just came to believe that they were rare much rarer than neurotic adults having false memories of suchMasson was right however in saying that one's attitude towards infantile sexuality is a lynchpin of psychoanalysis and Malcolm's description of his claims and the psychanalytic community's responses to them is evidence of that

  7. says:

    At root the three insufferable pedantic Freud scholars at the heart of Janet Malcolm's slim but riveting account engage in a highbrow hissy fit that differs from a modern day Twitter feud only a little bit Rather than snarky 140 character subtweeting the principals write novella length letters at each other whose basic message boils down to You hurt my feelings This book is less than 160 pages but felt twice as long so exhausted was I at these insecure windbagsAnd yet Malcolm's cool brutally observant prose makes this otherwise cloistered debate about the true motives of Sigmund Freud's abandonment of his infamous seduction theory and who would gain the access to tell that story seem like the most conseuential thing in the worldThis book is also worth reading because it forms a delicious daresay Freudian? subtext to readers of her industry classic The Journalist and the Murderer At the same time Malcolm was documenting the libel trial between convicted triple murderer Jeffrey MacDonald and author Joe McGinniss Malcolm was being sued by the subject of In the Freud Archives self proclaimed intellectual gigolo Jeffrey Masson Like MacDonald with McGinniss Masson thought Malcolm was on his side and would paint a largely sympathetic portrait of him rather than the kind of surgical vivisection she owns a virtual patent on Keep that in mind next time you take out your dog eared copy of TJATM

  8. says:

    A book that surprised me and my first introduction to Janet Malcolm who became one of my favourite writers In the Freud Archives is a kind of family romance an account of hopes histories filial affections given and betrayed legacies despoiled and savagely incestuous in fighting amongst the intellectual heirs of Freud Malcolm grew up in the world of 1950s and early '60s psychoanalysis a world where remember Woody Allen's early routines? Freudian theory was taken as a given and educated upper middle class New Yorkers took their analysts to be family oracles Her account of the internecine battles over Freud's legacy is about not just Masson's insistence that Freud deliberately downplayed evidence of actual child abuse because he feared for the social acceptance of his theories but about class and style and generations as well about the end of an era where Freud's legacy was administered by Central European disciples of Freud as a kind of remnant of a lost culture and time In the Freud Archives is hilarious sad dryly witty and wonderfully presented Very much worth reading

  9. says:

    You have allowed me in a show of great confidence to go through your cupboardA very interesting book full of twists and turns and drama ueens masuerading as Freud scholars Also it was uite funny in parts Ultimately I felt like it was maybe too harsh on Masson and not critical enough of Eissler I found Eissler's nature to protect Freud's legacy very suspect And I was never convinced that Masson's theories were wrong at least we can safely say his main point is blatantly correct now that we have the benefit of time on our side that Freud's idea that people's psychological illnesses happened only in their heads and are not related in any way to reality is wrong So what I'm saying is that Masson made some good and correct points and those points should be evaluated independently of how he treatedmanipulated his fellow man Swales was also an interesting character uniuely flawed and brilliant It seems like all involved were cast in a negative light though Masson gets the brunt of it His narcissism was wounded when you withdrew your approval Well my narcissism was wounded when I was proved to be a fool

  10. says:

    An account of how some 'scholars' fell outI found this book interesting for the first few pages but overall it was pretty dull

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