Freudianism Is Dead. Long Live Freudianism!

Roundup: Talking About History

Todd Dufresne, in the LAT (Feb. 18, 2004):

What an utter disappointment the 1990s were for the fans of Freud. Time magazine asked aloud, and on its cover no less,"Is Freud Dead?" And the former analytic stronghold, the New York Review of Books, published lengthy feature articles debunking Freud's reputation as a man and as a thinker.

By the end of the decade, even the New Yorker was in on the action. Taken as a whole, these sensations of the 1990s, part of the so-called"Freud wars," capture the gist of a cause well lost.

The year 2000 — the centenary of"The Interpretation of Dreams" — should have been a triumph for Freudians. Instead, amid the celebrations was a funereal whiff of defeat: The psychoanalytic century was over before the 21st century had begun. Everyone knew the answer to Time's rhetorical question. Psychoanalysis was indeed dead.

Well, almost everyone knew. You can always count on intellectuals to keep a candle burning for whatever idea they've invested long years, enormous sums of money and, perhaps above all, limitless ego promoting.

Obviously, it's not easy to walk away from a venture of this magnitude — one that helped pave the way for tenure and the prestige of authorship. Over the years, there were so many books, so many reviews, so many lectures, all with so little perspective on Freud's limitations, and partisans were just not ready to give it all up. So the Freud industry soldiered on. ...

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