Revolution in Mind: Freud, The Freudians, and the Making of

Revolution in Mind: Freud, The Freudians, and the Making of

by George Makari

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A masterful history of one of the most important movements of our time, Revolution in Mind is a brilliant, engaging, and radically new work—the first ever to fully account for the making of psychoanalysis. In a sweeping narrative, George Makari demonstrates how a new way of thinking about inner life coalesced and won followers who spread this body of


A masterful history of one of the most important movements of our time, Revolution in Mind is a brilliant, engaging, and radically new work—the first ever to fully account for the making of psychoanalysis. In a sweeping narrative, George Makari demonstrates how a new way of thinking about inner life coalesced and won followers who spread this body of thought throughout the West. Along the way he introduces the reader to a fascinating array of characters, many of whom have been long ignored or forgotten.

Amid great ferment, Sigmund Freud emerged as a creative, interdisciplinary thinker who devised a riveting new theory of the mind that attracted acolytes from the very fields the Viennese doctor had mined for his synthesis. These allies included Eugen Bleuler, Carl Jung, and Alfred Adler, all of whom eventually broke away and accused the Freudian community of being unscientific. Makari reveals how in the wake of these crises, innovators like Sándor Ferenczi, Wilhelm Reich, Melanie Klein, and others reformed psychoanalysis, which began to gain wide acceptance only to be banished from the continent and sent into exile due to the rise of fascism.

Groundbreaking, insightful, and compulsively readable, Revolution in Mind goes beyond myth and polemic to give us the story of one of the most controversial intellectual endeavors of the twentieth century.

Editorial Reviews

George Prochnik
…[a] lucid history of the rise of psychoanalysis…Rather than providing yet another biography of Freud, Makari maps out the Freud family tree with all its thorny branches, its disciples and dissenters. Even if psychoanalysis is increasingly overshadowed by neurobiology and cognitive psychology, Makari argues that the language of Freudianism remains the lingua franca for some of our most vexing questions: How can aspects of the mind be unknown to itself? How is it possible that another person can be more aware of our thoughts than we are? Assuming such knowledge is possible, how can it be deployed by a doctor to ease our pain and bolster the felicity of our engagement with the outside world? Makari's book projects a pleasing orderliness onto a tangled tale.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Makari, the director of Cornell's Institute for the History of Psychiatry, provides a comprehensive early history of psychoanalysis from 1895 to 1946. Although his early colleague Josef Breuer justifiably claimed that Freud was "a man given to absolute and exclusive formulations," the great Viennese thinker's revolutionary understanding of the psyche evolved quite a bit, shifting away from psychosexual theory toward the tripartite division of the psyche (ego/id/superego) around 1920. Discussing the steadily growing community of psychoanalysts in Vienna (and, successively, in Zurich, Berlin and elsewhere), Makari notes that the Freudians could sometimes be intellectually insular and sectlike, resulting in the expulsion of Alfred Adler and C.G. Jung from Freud's circle between 1907 and 1913. Makari succinctly describes developments after Freud's influence peaked, especially the prominence of what came to be called "ego psychology" as developed by Heinz Hartmann, and the bitter intellectual dispute between Melanie Klein and Anna Freud. Makari tries to cover so much ground that some sections get a bit sketchy, but most of his ideas come across clearly in this challenging but rewarding intellectual history. 31 b&w photos. (Jan. 8)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Makari (psychiatry, Weill Medical Coll./Cornell Inst.) writes this history of psychoanalysis armed with clinical experience and deep knowledge of Sigmund Freud, his times, and his philosophic and scientific forbears and contemporaries. Makari shows how Freud's school of thought survived both competition and defection (Alfred Adler and Carl Jung were two notable followers-turned-detractors) and how Freud was able to revise his theories and incorporate new ideas, even those of his opponents. Makari's exegesis is readable, thoughtful, and balanced, but detailed attention to less-well-known personalities and backward jumps in chronology interrupt the narrative flow. And while he recommends biographies by Ernest Jones and Peter Gay, he omits equally valuable works by Paul Roazen (e.g., How Freud Worked) or Louis Breger (e.g., Freud: Darkness in the Midst of Vision). The lack of a bibliography will frustrate scholars, for whom the book is best suited. That said, this new history, which extends Henri F. Ellenberger's classic The Discovery of the Unconscious: The History and Evolution of Dynamic Psychiatry(1970), is essential for large general libraries and collections in psychology and Western culture.
—E. James Lieberman

Kirkus Reviews
The director of Cornell's Institute for the History of Psychiatry investigates his roots. Makari (Psychiatry/Weill Medical Center and Rockefeller Univ.) opens in 1885 with 29-year-old Sigmund Freud down and out in Paris. Dejected, dismissed and destitute, Freud had fled to the City of Lights as a last resort. He had been forced to give up on his claims for cocaine as a new panacea, as well as his dreams of becoming a scholar and researcher. This was it: If Paris didn't work, he would have to become a doctor. What happened next, as we all know, changed the course of Western intellectual history, popularized a struggling field of science and put 19th-century Europe's bustle in a bunch. The author reveals the inner life of psychoanalysis through the discussions of Freud and his various disciples, most of whom broke ranks before the outbreak of World War II. Carl Jung, Mr. Collective Unconscious, declared that not every psychological disorder had its roots in sexual dysfunction. Anna Freud, the master's daughter, made sense of the long-ignored ego (Papa preferred the id). The vivacious and often grating Melanie Klein challenged and deepened Freud's ideas about childhood. Hungarian psychoanalyst Sandor Ferenczi eventually came to believe that, contrary to Freudian thinking, his patients' accounts of sexual abuse were true stories and not merely disguised desires. In its heyday, Freudian and Freudian-inspired inquiries about the nature of the human psyche lit up the airwaves, revolutionized the way people thought about what it meant to think at all, and injected phrases like oral fixation and penis envy into the lingua franca. Despite internal strife, Freud's debated and sometimes dubiouslegacy remains powerful-and a fascinating topic for exploration in the hands of such a deft historian. A thorough, exciting history of some very strange ideas. Agent: Sarah Chalfant/Wylie Agency

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Revolution in Mind
The Creation of Psychoanalysis

Chapter One

A Mind for Science

It's wrong to say I think. Better to say: I am thought . . . I is an other.
—Arthur Rimbaud, 1871

As the Enlightenment cast scientific rationalism up to celestial bodies and down to squirming microscopic life, there was one object that seemed impossible to penetrate: the mind. The French champion of science and rational skepticism, René Descartes, established this in his Discourse on Method when he declared the "I" was beyond rational inquiry, being nothing other than the immaterial soul described by Church fathers. Religious beliefs regarding inner life would prove durable and influential, but during the second half of the nineteenth century such notions began to lose some credence, and in that ceded ground a science of mental life took root.

When Sigmund Freud arrived in Paris in 1885, France had established itself as the center for cutting-edge research on psychological matters. Few scientists in Berlin or Vienna bothered to investigate the psyche, the "I," the soul, the self, or the mind—realms tainted by religion or speculative metaphysics. In Paris, however, scientists were drawn to the study of the inner world, thanks to a new method. That method, the psychologie nouvelle, transformed France into a hotbed of study for somnambulism, human automatisms, multiple personality, double consciousness, and second selves, as well as demonic possessions, fugue states, faith cures, and waking dreams. The marvelous and miraculous made their way from isolated villagesand abbeys and carnival halls, from exorcists and charlatans and old mesmerists, into the great halls of French academic science.

The birth of this new psychology came as France itself was being reborn. Nearly a century after its revolution, the French suffered a humiliating defeat to the Prussians in 1870, resulting in the fall of Emperor Louis Napoleon III and the birth of the Third Republic. Many blamed this military debacle on French science and its failure to keep up with the advances made in German lands. French Republicanism combined anticlericalism with a commitment to revitalizing science. As the authority of the French Catholic Church to dictate thinking on the soul waned, a bold, new scientific psychology emerged.

At the time, psychology was considered a branch of philosophy, not science, but the champion of the psychologie nouvelle, Théodule Ribot, set out to change that. Born in 1839, the son of a provincial pharmacist, Théodule was forced by his father to become a civil servant. After three years of drudgery, he announced that he was off to Paris to try and gain entrance into the elite École Normale Supérieure. Two years later, Ribot won a spot at that university, where he quickly took a dislike to the reigning spiritualist philosophy championed by Victor Cousin. A strange brew of reason and faith, Cousin's psychology mixed notions of the soul and God along with naturalistic descriptions of the mind.

Ribot could not abide this. Despite being denounced by local clergy, he set out in search of a method that might make psychology fully amenable to scientific inquiry. Plunging into the writings of British thinkers, Ribot emerged in 1870 with Contemporary English Psychology (The Experimental School). Despite the dry title, the book opened with a spirited manifesto that would define psychology in France for decades to come.

Conventional notions of philosophy and science both made objective study of the mind impossible, Ribot explained. He attacked philosophies like those of Descartes and Cousin, insisting that psychology must rid itself of metaphysics and religion. Psychologists could not comment on transcendental questions, nor honestly speak of the soul. And they could not rely on the armchair methods of philosophy, but needed to employ the methods of natural science.

For all this, Ribot had an eager audience. Many of his contemporaries were ready to jettison older philosophies of the soul for naturalistic study. But how was psychology to be remade into a science? To answer that question, Ribot took on a different set of critics, led by the fiery prophet of science, Auguste Comte. Despite leading a marginal erratic life, Auguste Comte achieved extraordinary influence over late nineteenth-century European intellectuals, politicians, and scientists. In 1855, the Frenchman laid out a history of all human knowledge, declaring that the most primitive stage was theology, myth, and fiction, which then progressed to a second stage of metaphysical abstraction. In the end, philosophical notions would be surpassed by the most perfect state of knowledge which was scientific and "positive." Hence Comte's program was dubbed positivism. With the rise of the Third Republic in 1870, Comte's vision of progress was embraced by the French political elite as a model for both science and social reform.

Comte's thinking posed a great dilemma for Ribot, for the founder of positivism believed an insoluble problem lay at the heart of psychological knowledge. Psychologists relied on self-observation to get at things like thought, feeling, and desire. Such interior observation—the knowledge that came from a mind looking in at itself—was exactly what constituted subjectivity. Therefore, Comte concluded psychology could never be objective, and his quick survey of prior efforts seemed to support this damning conclusion:

After two thousand years of psychological pursuit, no one propo-sition is established to the satisfaction of its followers. They are divided, to this day, into a multitude of schools, still disputing about the very elements of their doctrine. This interior observation gives birth to almost as many theories as there are observers.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, anyone who sought to establish principles for a scientific psychology—including John Stuart Mill in England, Franz Brentano in Austria, and William James in the United States—would have to take on Auguste Comte's devastating indictment.

Comte pointed positivists down the only tenable path he saw for psychology: the field should restrict itself to observable signs such as physiognomy or behavior. To the embarrassment of his admirers, Comte thereby predicted that the future of psychology lay in phrenology. Initially conceived as the study of brain localization, phrenology had degenerated into quackery and the study of cranial lumps and bumps, based on the belief that these protuberances reflected mental capacities and deficits. By the time Ribot took up his pen, Comte's suggestion was ridiculous.

Revolution in Mind
The Creation of Psychoanalysis
. Copyright © by George Makari. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

George Makari is director of Cornell's Institute for the History of Psychiatry, associate professor of psychiatry at Weill Medical College, adjunct associate professor at Rockefeller University, and a faculty member of Columbia University's Psychoanalytic Center. His writings on the history of psychoanalysis have won numerous awards. He lives in New York City

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