"The legacy of psychoanalysis is not easy to assess. . . . Secrets of the Soul is a welcome guide through the labyrinth." --The Boston Globe
"In this expansive and authoritative work . . . Zaretsky charts the many shifts in Freud's thinking over the course of his long creative life." --The Washington Post Book World
"Zaretsky's narrative deftly braids together the conflicts, contradictions, injuries, and ironies that composed the extremely mixed foundation of what Janet Malcolm called 'the impossible profession.'" --Newsday
“An unremittingly ambitious book [that] reflects its author’s Herculean immersion in an enormous amount of material.” —The New York Times
"Ambitious...Zaretsky is at his best connecting the twists and turns of psychoanalytic theories to the social and economic changes that those theories reflected and helped shape." —Celia Brickman, The Chicago Tribune
“An important and pioneering book.” –Elisabeth Young-Bruehl, author of Anna Freud: A Biography
“Indispensable…A superb account of the changing fortunes of psychoanalytic thought, institutions, and practices in the later 20th century.” —Jenny Davidson, The Village Voice
“Capacious…Zaretsky makes a cogent case that the cultural freedoms of modernity own an enormous debt to Sigmund Freud.” —Ellen Willis, Dissent
“An impressive and kaleidoscopic overview of the history of the major psychoanalytic ideas…None of the other histories I’ve read has put psychoanalysis in the context of its times the way Zaretsky has.” –Robert S. Wallerstein, former president of the International Psychoanalytic Association
“Spellbinding and groundbreaking cultural history… written in a clear, easily accessible style…Zaretsky’s knowledge is far-ranging and his grasp of psychoanalysis’s complexities is solid and dexterous…Zaretsky’s virtuoso achievement is to bring all these contradictions together in a powerfully argued overwhelming persuasive work.”
–Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)
“A cultural history not only of psychoanalysis but of the century itself.”
–Dale Singer, St. Louis Sunday Post-Dispatch
“With the end of the ‘Freudian Century,’ psychoanalysis is now a cultural study rather than a medical treatment. Eli Zaretsky not only makes this claim but charts its complex history. The placing of psychoanalysis in its historical and social context and teasing out the relationship behind its enormous importance and its continuous marginality, is what we have been waiting for. An important book.” –Juliet Mitchell
“Comprehensive and useful.” —John Derbyshire, The New York Sun
“With sweeping perspective, integrative skill, and considerable scholarship, Zaretsky takes on psychoanalysis…His achievement — a scholarly, readable intellectual history of lasting value on a complex, important topic — is essential.” —Library Journal (starred review)
“[Zaretsky] offers an important new model of autonomy and self-reflection, and a sustained and moving inquiry into the meaning of the human. Zaretsky teaches us how to think capaciously and well. An encompassing and probing work.” –Judith Butler, Maxine Elliot Professor, University of California at Berkeley
“A tremendous accomplishment. . . . The best book on psychoanalysis and its historical impact. . . . Superbly written and full of wonderful insights.” –Paul Robinson, Richard W. Lyman Professor in the Humanities, Stanford University
“An intelligent, thoroughly well-informed effort to fit Freud’s psychoanalysis into its culture, a history-minded enterprise that analysis badly needs.” –Peter Gay, Sterling Professor of History Emeritus, Yale University
Perhaps because it is so ambitious, Zaretsky's book is also challenging and difficult at times. Dedicated readers will find their efforts rewarded; those who don't already have some familiarity with the basic tenets of psychoanalysis might have more trouble.
The Washington Post
"One century after its founding, psychoanalysis presents us with a paradox" notes Zaretsky in his introduction to this spellbinding and groundbreaking cultural history, for not only was it one of the liberating forces of the 20th century, it also became simultaneously "a font of antipolitical, antifeminist, and homophobic prejudice" and a "pseudoscience whose survival is now very much in doubt." Writing in a clear, easily accessible style, Zaretsky (Capitalism, the Family, and Personal Life), a historian at the New School University, charts the basic history and tenets of psychoanalysis and systemically discusses how this new science of psychoanalysis intersected with contemporary ideas about homosexuality, women and race. His discussion of Jung's racism and anti-Semitism is particularly strong. At the center of Zaretsky's story is the emergence of a new strain of psychoanalysis in the U.S. from the 1920s onward. American psychoanalysis became more professionalized, and the standards of training stricter, in an attempt to make it a "real" profession. It also became more concerned with people fitting into social norms. This was due partly to the experiences of so many pre- and postwar emigres wanting to fit into American culture at a time when that culture was already in many ways becoming more conservative. Zaretsky also charts the significant schisms that plagued the psychoanalytic community during and after WWII-particularly between Freud's daughter Anna and Melanie Klein-and how these complicated fissures led to the emergence of a more deeply conservative theory and practice of psychoanalysis during the Cold War. Zaretsky's knowledge is far-ranging and his grasp of psychoanalysis's complexities is solid and dextrous. He adroitly brings in a wealth of cultural information-the feminism of Emma Goldman; Henry James's The Bostonians; the paintings of Max Ernst and the relationship of psychoanalysis to surrealism; Virginia Woolf's reading of Freud (whom she had published but never read until years later); and Moss Hart's 1941 psychoanalytic musical Lady in the Dark- which augments his arguments with wit and precision. While much of this information has been available piecemeal, Zaretsky's virtuoso achievement is to bring all these contradictions together in a powerfully argued and overwhelming persuasive work. Illus. Agent, Charlotte Sheedy. (May 28) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
With sweeping perspective, integrative skill, and considerable scholarship, Zaretsky (history, New School) takes on psychoanalysis-that great charismatic force of the last century. He focuses on the second Industrial Revolution, moving beyond the factory system to cover the corporation, science, marketing, mass consumption, (Henry) Fordism, and the separation of work and life. As Zaretsky points out, Freud brought forth the individual from the 19th-century family with his concept of the personal unconscious, reformulating ideas about gender and sexuality as feminism and homosexuality breached old barriers. Subsequently, autonomy, feminism, and democracy (the three promises of modernity) gained support from psychoanalysis, which was itself transformed by war, revolution, sociocultural change, emigration, and eventual organizational sclerosis. Besides Freud himself, Wilhelm Reich, Karen Horney, and Melanie Klein get exceptional exegesis, but every major analyst is situated. Like the Bible, Freud's corpus lends itself to both conservative and liberal agendas, and Zaretsky shows how and why. His achievement-a scholarly, readable intellectual history of lasting value on a complex, important topic-is essential for both public and academic libraries.-E. James Lieberman, George Washington Univ. Sch. of Medicine, Washington, DC Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.