Freud's Russia: National Identity in the Evolution of Psychoanalysis

Freud's Russia: National Identity in the Evolution of Psychoanalysis

by James L. Rice
     
 

Freud's lifelong involvement with the Russian national character and culture is examined in James Rice's imaginative combination of history, literary analysis, and psychoanalysis. Freud's Russia opens up the neglected "Eastern Front" of Freud's world—the Russian roots of his parents, colleagues, and patients. He reveals that

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Overview

Freud's lifelong involvement with the Russian national character and culture is examined in James Rice's imaginative combination of history, literary analysis, and psychoanalysis. Freud's Russia opens up the neglected "Eastern Front" of Freud's world—the Russian roots of his parents, colleagues, and patients. He reveals that the psychoanalyst was vitally concerned with the events in Russian history and its nineteenth-century cultural greats. Rice explores how this intense interest contributed to the evolution of psychoanalysis at every critical stage.

Freud's mentor Charcot was a physician to the Tsar; his best friends in Paris were gifted Russian doctors; and some of his most valued colleagues (Max Eitingon, Moshe Wulff, Sabina Spielrein, and Lou Andreas-Salome) were also from Russia. These acquaintances intrigued Freud and precipitated his inquiry into the Russian psyche. Rice shows how Freud's major works incorporate elements, overtly and covertly, from his Russia. He describes Freud's most famous case, the Wolf-Man (Sergei Pankeev), and traces how his personality fused, in Freud's imagination, with that of Feodor Dostoevsky. Beyond this, Rice reveals the remarkable influence Dostoevsky had on Freud, surveying Freud's extensive library holdings and sources of biographical information on the Russian novelist.

Initially inspired by the Freud-Jung letters that appeared in 1974, Freud's Russia breaks new ground. Its fresh perspective will be of significant interest to psychoanalysts, historians of European culture, biographers of Freud, and students of Dostoevsky in comparative literature. It is a major work in fusing European intellectual history with the founding father of psychoanalysis.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“A new work on Freud's emotional and political interest in Russia and its influence on his writing concerning national character and religion, by Rice… His thesis is that Freud maintained a deep and ambivalent interest in Russia because his maternal and paternal grandparents and several important colleagues and patients had come from there, and because Dostoevsky's writing represented for him a particularly engaging mix of psychopathology and spirituality, as well as a cautionary tale of the dangers of reactionary politics and antisemitism. Rice presents an interesting rethinking of Freud's clinical work… The writing is clear and well informed.”

—D. A. Davis, Choice

"Freud’s Russia is a model of scholarly inquiry. It is the fruit of a massive course of reading and a passion for the subject which is evident on every page. Yet more impressive is Rice’s interpretive flexibility. Many kinds of evidence and argument are utilized in the course of his biography, but he employs them in a manner consistently appropriate to the topic at hand. Secondly, one line of analysis is overlaid on others. Rice fully appreciates the Freudian notion that single events can be traced to a multiplicity of causes. Rice readily uses the cognitive tools proffered by psychoanalysis: indeed, he demonstrates how it is a beast of Freud’s own fantasies. He often resorts to deductions from fragmentary evidence and speculation, but he weighs his judgments in a manner that almost always strikes this reader as well considered. Unusual among Freudians, Rice recognizes the limitations of psychoanalysis, but at the same time, he makes a wonderful case for the paradigm. Lastly, this is no cold academic exercise, but a lively history with all of the “page-turning” appeal of pulp literature, nevertheless at no detriment to its intellectual merit. Rice’s may be one of the best written of all biographies. Certainly it should attract fellow Slavists, for whom it may serve as a concise and persuasive introduction to Freud’s thought.”

—Brett Cooke, Texas A&M University

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781560000914
Publisher:
Transaction Publishers
Publication date:
01/01/1993
Series:
History of Ideas Series
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.10(d)

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