The Rise and Crisis of Psychoanalysis in the United States: Freud and the Americans, 1917-1985

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Oxford University Press, Jan 1, 1995 - Psychoanalysis - 476 pages
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Although Freud made only one visit to the United States, the spectacular rise and the gradual decline of his theories on human behavior continue to make headlines. In 1956, celebrating the centennial of Freud's birth, popular magazines reported that this "Darwin of the Mind" had fathered modern psychiatry, psychology, child raising, education, and sexual attitudes. But by 1975, Sir Peter Medawar, a medical research scientist and a Nobel Prize winner, announced in the New York Review of Books that "doctrinaire psychoanalytic theory" was the "most stupendous intellectual confidence trick of the twentieth century." In 1984, a headline in Ms. Magazine - "The Hundred Year Cover Up: How Freud Betrayed Women" - neatly summed up two decades of scathing feminist criticism. How much of this extraordinary sea change in Freud's American reputation is due to the nature of psychoanalysis itself, and how much to shifts in American society? And what of the Freudian legacy will survive the current crisis of psychoanalysis? The Rise and Crisis of Psychoanalysis in the United States, the long awaited conclusion to Nathan G. Hale's pathbreaking history of the American psychoanalytic movement, Freud and the Americans, offers a brilliant analysis of Freud's continuing impact on the American cultural landscape. With skill and insight, Hale traces the extraordinary popularization of Freud's ideas through magazines, books, and even novels and Hollywood movies, and reveals how the vast human laboratory of World War I seemed to confirm Freud's theories about the irrational and brutal elements of human nature. Not only did psychoanalytic therapy prove effective for treating the frightful nightmares and othersymptoms of shell-shocked soldiers, its promise of helping individuals fulfill their potential fit neatly into the uniquely American pattern of self-improvement and upward mobility. Weighing the recurrent controversies that raged over the scientific validity of Freud's theories with the arguments of influential intellectuals who saw in psychoanalysis a sweeping criticism of traditional sexual mores, Hale shows how and why psychoanalysis came to have such a pervasive influence on the fabric of American life, from child care to criminology. The twenties and thirties saw psychoanalysis transform itself from the calling of a self-chosen group of avant-garde psychiatrists and neurologists to a profession with its own institutions for training and certification. Hale documents how the American insistence on medical training, while greatly annoying to Freud himself, was essential to U.S. acceptance of the psychoanalytic profession. He re-creates the enormous vogue enjoyed by psychoanalysis in the years after the Second World War, and the inevitable backlash leading up to the current crisis. As feminists rebelled against Freud's rigid gender roles, new psychotherapies and new drugs narrowed the problems for which psychoanalysis seemed appropriate, and even orthodox analysts began to question the effectiveness of classical therapy when analyses lengthened from one or two to five, ten, or more years. In its final chapters, The Rise and Crisis of Psychoanalysis in the United States offers a comprehensive and authoritative assessment of the psychoanalytic movement as it continues to respond to these challenges. Illuminating both the boldness and sweep of Freud's analytic vision and its limitations, it is destined to become a definitive work.

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FREUD AND THE AMERICANS: Vol. II, The Rise and Crisis of Psychoanalysis in America

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

A prodigious history of American psychoanalysis from 1917 to 1985, wonderfully lucid and informative. Hale, whose first volume (Freud and the Americans: The Beginnings of Psychoanalysis in the United ... Read full review

The rise and crisis of psychoanalysis in the United States: Freud and the Americans, 1917-1985

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

This completes historian Hale's indispensable study of the impact of Freud on American culture, begun with Freud and the Americans: The Origin & Foundation of the Psychoanalytic Movement in America ... Read full review


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About the author (1995)

About the Author:

Nathan G. Hale, Jr. is the author of Freud and the Americans: The Beginning of Psychoanalysis in the United States, 1876-1917.

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