by Brenda Webster
February 27, 2009, 8:28 am
People tend to fall into two camps when they are talking about Freud: wildly partisen and "bashers." So it was particularly refreshing to read the proofs of Louis Breger's new book Dream of Undying Fame: How Freud betrayed his mentor and invented psychoanalysis. In this probing and balanced book, Breger illuminates the way Freud's traumatic childhood shaped his ambitious, detached and authoritarian personality and led to the betrayal of his mentor Breuer. His analysis reveals an elegant paradox:how Freud both invented and improvrished the development of psychoanalysis.
Having just written a novel about the early days of psychoanalysis and Freud's fraught relationship to his disciple Tausk I was particularly fascinated with Freud's utter rejection of Breuer when he wouldn't accept Freud's theory that sex was at the root of every neurosis. When Tausk his disciple for ten years commited suicide, Freud said he "wouldn't miss him." When he split from Breuer he said he was "glad to be rid of him". This about a man who had generously encouraged him when he was young and unknown. Though most people won't have heard of him, Breuer discovered what came to be called "the talking cure" when his patient Berthe relieved her symptoms by talking out her various traumas.Breger points out that psychoanalysis today is much closer to Breuer's version than to Freud's. Sexuality is generally no longer considered primary. Greater attention is paid to real traumas in the patient's life and therapy is more of a collaboration between doctor and patient. A fascinating exploration of how psychoanalysis developed.