Dispatches From The Freud Wars

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Overview

In this challenging collection of essays, the noted historian and philosopher of science John Forrester delves into the disputes over Freud's dead body. With wit and erudition, he tackles questions central to our psychoanalytic century's ways of thinking and living, including the following: Can one speak of a morality of the psychoanalytic life? Are the lives of both analysts and patients doomed to repeat the incestuous patterns they uncover? What and why did Freud collect? Is a history of psychoanalysis possible?

By taking nothing for granted and leaving no cliché of psychobabble--theoretical or popular--unturned, Forrester gives us a sense of the ethical surprises and epistemological riddles that a century of tumultuous psychoanalytical debate has often obscured. In these pages, we explore dreams, history, ethics, political theory, and the motor of psychoanalysis as a scientific movement.

Forrester makes us feel that the Freud Wars are not merely a vicious quarrel or a fashionable journalistic talking point for the late twentieth century. This hundred years' war is an index of the cultural and scientific climate of modern times. Freud is indeed a barometer for understanding how we conduct our different lives.

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Editorial Reviews

Washington Post Book World

Where Forrester hits the mark is his insight on the passionate intensity of the battles between Freud and his critics, and the analogy he makes between this struggle and the one between analyst and his or her patient. It may be possible, in fact, to read the entire commentary on Freud as that between analysand and analyst, all projecting part of their shadow onto Freud and struggling in the trenches of transference and countertransference. It is to Forrester's credit that he sees this and shows it to us in this provocative book.
— Claire Douglas

Medical History

[This book, along with Truth Games]…present[s] a series of eight wide-ranging but interconnected essays. Taken as an ensemble, they deal with the history of psychoanalysis, redefinitions of psychoanalysis and what it means to be a Freudian, psychoanalytic readings of contemporary cultural issues, discussions of the scientific status of psychoanalysis and an impassioned defence of psychoanalysis…The essays are elegantly written, and open up a number of new perspectives on these issues, as well as putting forward new formulations of more familiar ones…Anyone interested in the history of psychoanalysis and the cultural location of psychoanalysis today is likely to find these essays stimulating, engaging and inviting of dialogue.
— Sonu Shamdasani

The Sunday Times

Dispatches from the Freud Wars is compulsively readable, a revision of Freud's life and thought, brilliantly written, full of enticing detail.
— A.S. Byatt

Psychoanalytic Studies

An expert at the shifting sands of philosophical argument, Forrester continually undercuts the grounds of the varieties of criticisms aimed at psychoanalytic theory, technique and cultural significance. Love him or hate him, Forrester rightly insists, we cannot pretend that Freud did not exist, and that his extensive writings have not permanently influenced the 20th century's received views on human nature, hermeneutics and the nature of scientific inquiry...To a large extent then, this a book about reading Freud, rhetorically structured so that the final charges of misreading leveled against such critics of psychoanalysis as Frederick Crews and Adolph Grünbaum ring convincing and true. Forrester's accomplishment here is to deflect the accusations of psychoanalysis as pseudo-science back onto the accusers, who do not understand that psychoanalysis is not, and never was intended to be, rocket science.
— Renée Kingcaid

Financial Times

Freud could hardly have a doughtier champion. Forrester's writerly and polemical skills are impressive, and make for an utterly fascinating book.
— A. C. Grayling

The Times

John Forrester is well known for his translations of Lacan and for his books on psychoanalysis. This excellent collection of essays is elegantly readable. The title essay presents a measured, reasonable defense of Freud which neither conceals his flaws nor blackens his character.
— Anthony Storr

Globe & Mail

Forrester, interestingly, uses Freud's thinking to reconsider such subjects as the links between envy and justice, and the nature of discretion as opposed to transgression...[His] book is consistently challenging.
— Paul Roazen

The Independent

Here there are excellent essays on Freud's lurid relationship with Sandor Ferenczi, and on Freud the collector of antiquities.
— Justin Wintle

Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences

Although there were many reasons for thinking that the complacencies of the American psychoanalytic establishment deserved a thorough shaking-up, it is disconcerting that an impression may be now abroad that psychoanalysis deserved to be seen as junk science. On this score Forrester is, in my opinion, on the side of the angels. He takes Freud seriously as a figure within intellectual history, and in the last chapter of this book Forrester tries to deal with criticisms...Forrester rightly sees Freud as part of the Western moral thought, a thinker whose ethical practices and preachings deserve close scrutiny.
— Paul Roazen

Sunday Times

John Forrester's Dispatches from the Freud Wars is also compulsively readable, a revision of Freud's life and thought, brilliantly written, full of enticing detail.
— A.S. Byatt

The Observer

John Forrester's Dispatches from the Freud Wars is a fascinating discussion of why Freud, unlike Marx—at the moment—won't leave us alone and how much of our thinking is impossible without his ideas. Freud's most vehement critics prove repeatedly that ours is his century.
— Hanif Kureishi

The Guardian
Refreshingly, John Forrester wagers 'that the more we know about Freud--the more one has unlearned what one was hardwired to know about him--the more interesting and surprising and thought-provoking he becomes.' Your Freudian education could begin here.
International Journal of Psycho-Analysis

John Forrester...has seen that the reactions to Freud are themselves an interesting commentary on our culture as a whole. His latest book consists of six essays on Freud and his effects, focusing on the various kinds of reactions to and interpretations of him. While by no means an unqualified admirer, he assumes that Freud is a supremely important figure in the twentieth-century's attempt to understand itself...I enjoyed this book; it is written in a vigorous, discursive style, provocative and illuminating...It is nice to be reminded by this book that psychoanalytic ideas exist in a wider zeitgeist, and are there not just to be worked with, but also to be played with.
— Susan Budd

Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic

This volume delves into the heart of the current Freud debates. As an erudite scholar from the department of History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge University, Forrester brings impeccable credentials to his exegesis.

— George Hough, Ph.D

Southern Humanities Review

For the lay reader Dispatches from the Freud Wars is not an easy read, but it is one bound to leave us rethinking the most pervasive and commonplace aspects of our daily lives and surrounding communities. John Forrester's breadth of knowledge is admirable—astonishing, really. And he does succeed in realigning our vision, clarifying an epoch by confronting us with perspectives that shift from dazzlingly wide to uncomfortably narrow...Taken together, the essays comprise a multi-faceted approach to Freud, a man not to be approached in any simple or narrow manner, as Forrester makes abundantly clear.
— Elizabeth Templeman

Washington Post Book World - Claire Douglas
Where Forrester hits the mark is his insight on the passionate intensity of the battles between Freud and his critics, and the analogy he makes between this struggle and the one between analyst and his or her patient. It may be possible, in fact, to read the entire commentary on Freud as that between analysand and analyst, all projecting part of their shadow onto Freud and struggling in the trenches of transference and countertransference. It is to Forrester's credit that he sees this and shows it to us in this provocative book.
Medical History - Sonu Shamdasani
[This book, along with Truth Games]…present[s] a series of eight wide-ranging but interconnected essays. Taken as an ensemble, they deal with the history of psychoanalysis, redefinitions of psychoanalysis and what it means to be a Freudian, psychoanalytic readings of contemporary cultural issues, discussions of the scientific status of psychoanalysis and an impassioned defence of psychoanalysis…The essays are elegantly written, and open up a number of new perspectives on these issues, as well as putting forward new formulations of more familiar ones…Anyone interested in the history of psychoanalysis and the cultural location of psychoanalysis today is likely to find these essays stimulating, engaging and inviting of dialogue.
The Sunday Times - A.S. Byatt
John Forrester's Dispatches from the Freud Wars is also compulsively readable, a revision of Freud's life and thought, brilliantly written, full of enticing detail.
Psychoanalytic Studies - Renée Kingcaid
An expert at the shifting sands of philosophical argument, Forrester continually undercuts the grounds of the varieties of criticisms aimed at psychoanalytic theory, technique and cultural significance. Love him or hate him, Forrester rightly insists, we cannot pretend that Freud did not exist, and that his extensive writings have not permanently influenced the 20th century's received views on human nature, hermeneutics and the nature of scientific inquiry...To a large extent then, this a book about reading Freud, rhetorically structured so that the final charges of misreading leveled against such critics of psychoanalysis as Frederick Crews and Adolph Grünbaum ring convincing and true. Forrester's accomplishment here is to deflect the accusations of psychoanalysis as pseudo-science back onto the accusers, who do not understand that psychoanalysis is not, and never was intended to be, rocket science.
Financial Times - A. C. Grayling
Freud could hardly have a doughtier champion. Forrester's writerly and polemical skills are impressive, and make for an utterly fascinating book.
The Times - Anthony Storr
John Forrester is well known for his translations of Lacan and for his books on psychoanalysis. This excellent collection of essays is elegantly readable. The title essay presents a measured, reasonable defense of Freud which neither conceals his flaws nor blackens his character.
Globe & Mail - Paul Roazen
Although there were many reasons for thinking that the complacencies of the American psychoanalytic establishment deserved a thorough shaking-up, it is disconcerting that an impression may be now abroad that psychoanalysis deserved to be seen as junk science. On this score Forrester is, in my opinion, on the side of the angels. He takes Freud seriously as a figure within intellectual history, and in the last chapter of this book Forrester tries to deal with criticisms...Forrester rightly sees Freud as part of the Western moral thought, a thinker whose ethical practices and preachings deserve close scrutiny.
The Independent - Justin Wintle
Here there are excellent essays on Freud's lurid relationship with Sandor Ferenczi, and on Freud the collector of antiquities.
The Observer - Hanif Kureishi
John Forrester's Dispatches from the Freud Wars is a fascinating discussion of why Freud, unlike Marx--at the moment--won't leave us alone and how much of our thinking is impossible without his ideas. Freud's most vehement critics prove repeatedly that ours is his century.
Bernard M. Edelstein
Forrester's essays are scholarly, engagingly presented, original and often humorous. His style, which becomes characteristic essay to essay, is to present an anecdote, a quotation, an observation, and then to develop it outwards, in concentric circles of meaning, which become richer and more complex as they proceed.
Malcolm Bowie
Forrester is already well known as the author of Language and the Origins of Psychoanalysis (1980) and The Seductions of Psychoanalysis (1990), as the co-author of Freud's Women (1992), and as the translator and editor of key volumes from Lacan's Seminar. This latest collection of essays finds Forrester in top form. It extends and diversifies his earlier writings in important ways and brings him to the forefront of contemporary debates on the standing of psychoanalysis. It is of course easy to talk about the Freudian inheritance nowadays--being able to do so is one of the entry requirements to the smart set and to an entire spectrum of academic and semipopular journals. Forrester's voice rises clear of this metropolitan hubbub: he is an outstanding Freud scholar who brings a scrupulous sense of history to everything he does. Dispatches from the Freud Wars is likely to command a very wide readership and to be massively influential in the current psychoanalytic debate.
International Journal of Psycho-Analysis - Susan Budd
John Forrester...has seen that the reactions to Freud are themselves an interesting commentary on our culture as a whole. His latest book consists of six essays on Freud and his effects, focusing on the various kinds of reactions to and interpretations of him. While by no means an unqualified admirer, he assumes that Freud is a supremely important figure in the twentieth-century's attempt to understand itself...I enjoyed this book; it is written in a vigorous, discursive style, provocative and illuminating...It is nice to be reminded by this book that psychoanalytic ideas exist in a wider zeitgeist, and are there not just to be worked with, but also to be played with.
Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic - George Hough
This volume delves into the heart of the current Freud debates. As an erudite scholar from the department of History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge University, Forrester brings impeccable credentials to his exegesis.
Southern Humanities Review - Elizabeth Templeman
For the lay reader Dispatches from the Freud Wars is not an easy read, but it is one bound to leave us rethinking the most pervasive and commonplace aspects of our daily lives and surrounding communities. John Forrester's breadth of knowledge is admirable--astonishing, really. And he does succeed in realigning our vision, clarifying an epoch by confronting us with perspectives that shift from dazzlingly wide to uncomfortably narrow...Taken together, the essays comprise a multi-faceted approach to Freud, a man not to be approached in any simple or narrow manner, as Forrester makes abundantly clear.
Sunday Times
John Forrester's Dispatches from the Freud Wars is also compulsively readable, a revision of Freud's life and thought, brilliantly written, full of enticing detail.
— A.S. Byatt
The Independent
Here there are excellent essays on Freud's lurid relationship with Sandor Ferenczi, and on Freud the collector of antiquities.
— Justin Wintle
The Times
John Forrester is well known for his translations of Lacan and for his books on psychoanalysis. This excellent collection of essays is elegantly readable. The title essay presents a measured, reasonable defense of Freud which neither conceals his flaws nor blackens his character.
— Anthony Storr
The Observer
John Forrester's Dispatches from the Freud Wars is a fascinating discussion of why Freud, unlike Marx--at the moment--won't leave us alone and how much of our thinking is impossible without his ideas. Freud's most vehement critics prove repeatedly that ours is his century.
— Hanif Kureishi
Financial Times
Freud could hardly have a doughtier champion. Forrester's writerly and polemical skills are impressive, and make for an utterly fascinating book.
— A. C. Grayling
Globe & Mail
Forrester, interestingly, uses Freud's thinking to reconsider such subjects as the links between envy and justice, and the nature of discretion as opposed to transgression...[His] book is consistently challenging.
— Paul Roazen
The Sunday Times
Dispatches from the Freud Wars is compulsively readable, a revision of Freud's life and thought, brilliantly written, full of enticing detail.
— A.S. Byatt
Washington Post Book World
Where Forrester hits the mark is his insight on the passionate intensity of the battles between Freud and his critics, and the analogy he makes between this struggle and the one between analyst and his or her patient. It may be possible, in fact, to read the entire commentary on Freud as that between analysand and analyst, all projecting part of their shadow onto Freud and struggling in the trenches of transference and countertransference. It is to Forrester's credit that he sees this and shows it to us in this provocative book.
— Claire Douglas
Medical History
[This book, along with Truth Games]…present[s] a series of eight wide-ranging but interconnected essays. Taken as an ensemble, they deal with the history of psychoanalysis, redefinitions of psychoanalysis and what it means to be a Freudian, psychoanalytic readings of contemporary cultural issues, discussions of the scientific status of psychoanalysis and an impassioned defence of psychoanalysis…The essays are elegantly written, and open up a number of new perspectives on these issues, as well as putting forward new formulations of more familiar ones…Anyone interested in the history of psychoanalysis and the cultural location of psychoanalysis today is likely to find these essays stimulating, engaging and inviting of dialogue.
— Sonu Shamdasani
Southern Humanities Review
For the lay reader Dispatches from the Freud Wars is not an easy read, but it is one bound to leave us rethinking the most pervasive and commonplace aspects of our daily lives and surrounding communities. John Forrester's breadth of knowledge is admirable--astonishing, really. And he does succeed in realigning our vision, clarifying an epoch by confronting us with perspectives that shift from dazzlingly wide to uncomfortably narrow...Taken together, the essays comprise a multi-faceted approach to Freud, a man not to be approached in any simple or narrow manner, as Forrester makes abundantly clear.
— Elizabeth Templeman
Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic
This volume delves into the heart of the current Freud debates. As an erudite scholar from the department of History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge University, Forrester brings impeccable credentials to his exegesis.

— George Hough, Ph.D

Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences
Although there were many reasons for thinking that the complacencies of the American psychoanalytic establishment deserved a thorough shaking-up, it is disconcerting that an impression may be now abroad that psychoanalysis deserved to be seen as junk science. On this score Forrester is, in my opinion, on the side of the angels. He takes Freud seriously as a figure within intellectual history, and in the last chapter of this book Forrester tries to deal with criticisms...Forrester rightly sees Freud as part of the Western moral thought, a thinker whose ethical practices and preachings deserve close scrutiny.
— Paul Roazen
Psychoanalytic Studies
An expert at the shifting sands of philosophical argument, Forrester continually undercuts the grounds of the varieties of criticisms aimed at psychoanalytic theory, technique and cultural significance. Love him or hate him, Forrester rightly insists, we cannot pretend that Freud did not exist, and that his extensive writings have not permanently influenced the 20th century's received views on human nature, hermeneutics and the nature of scientific inquiry...To a large extent then, this a book about reading Freud, rhetorically structured so that the final charges of misreading leveled against such critics of psychoanalysis as Frederick Crews and Adolph Grünbaum ring convincing and true. Forrester's accomplishment here is to deflect the accusations of psychoanalysis as pseudo-science back onto the accusers, who do not understand that psychoanalysis is not, and never was intended to be, rocket science.
— Renée Kingcaid
International Journal of Psycho-Analysis
John Forrester...has seen that the reactions to Freud are themselves an interesting commentary on our culture as a whole. His latest book consists of six essays on Freud and his effects, focusing on the various kinds of reactions to and interpretations of him. While by no means an unqualified admirer, he assumes that Freud is a supremely important figure in the twentieth-century's attempt to understand itself...I enjoyed this book; it is written in a vigorous, discursive style, provocative and illuminating...It is nice to be reminded by this book that psychoanalytic ideas exist in a wider zeitgeist, and are there not just to be worked with, but also to be played with.
— Susan Budd
A.C. Grayling
Freud could hardly have a doughtier champion. Forrester's writerly and polemical skills are impressive, and make for an utterly fascinating book. -- Financial Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674539617
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 0.72 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Meet the Author

John Forrester is Reader in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge University.
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Table of Contents

Introduction

Justice, Envy, and Psychoanalysis

Casualities of Truth

Collector, Naturalist, Surrealist

Dream Readers

"A Whole Climate of Opinion"

Dispatches from the Freud Wars

Epilogue

Abbreviations

Notes

Acknowledgments

Index

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