The 1950s saw waves of Freudian disciples set up practices. In The Last Good Freudian, Brenda Webster describes what it was like to grow up in an intellectual and artistic Jewish family at that time. Her father, Wolf Schwabacher, was a prominent entertainment lawyer whose clients included the Marx Brothers, Lillian Hellman, and Erskine Caldwell. Her mother, Ethel Schwabacher, was a protegee of Arshile Gorky, his first biographer, and herself a well-known abstract impressionist painter.
In her memoir, Webster evokes the social milieu of her childhood -- her summers at the farm that were shared with free-thinking psychoanalyst Muriel Gardiner; the progressive school on the Upper East Side where students learned biology by watching live animals mate and reproduce; and the attitude of sexual liberation in which her mother presented her with a copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover on her thirteenth birthday.
Growing up within a society that held Freudian analysis as the new diversion, Webster was given early access to the analyst's couch: The history of mental illness in her mother's family kept her there. As a result, Freudian thought became something that was impossible for Webster to avoid. What unfolds in her narrative is both a personal history of analysis and a critical examination of Freudian practices.