Becoming Freud

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The Making of a Psychoanalyst

Adam Phillips

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From the prizewinning Jewish Lives series, a strikingly original biography of the father of psychoanalysis 

Becoming Freud is the story of the young Freud—Freud up until the age of fifty—that incorporates all of Freud’s many misgivings about the art of biography. Freud invented a psychological treatment that involved the telling and revising of life stories, but he was himself skeptical of the writing of such stories. In this biography, Adam Phillips, whom the New Yorker calls “Britain’s foremost psychoanalytical writer,” emphasizes the largely and inevitably undocumented story of Freud’s earliest years as the oldest—and favored—son of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe and suggests that the psychoanalysis Freud invented was, among many other things, a psychology of the immigrant—increasingly, of course, everybody’s status in the modern world.
 
Psychoanalysis was also Freud’s way of coming to terms with the fate of the Jews in Europe in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. So as well as incorporating the writings of Freud and his contemporaries, Becoming Freud also uses the work of historians of the Jews in Europe in this significant period in their lives, a period of unprecedented political freedom and mounting persecution. Phillips concludes by speculating what psychoanalysis might have become if Freud had died in 1906, before the emergence of a psychoanalytic movement over which he had to preside.

About Jewish Lives:

Jewish Lives is a prizewinning series of interpretative biography designed to explore the many facets of Jewish identity. Individual volumes illuminate the imprint of Jewish figures upon literature, religion, philosophy, politics, cultural and economic life, and the arts and sciences. Subjects are paired with authors to elicit lively, deeply informed books that explore the range and depth of the Jewish experience from antiquity to the present.

In 2014, the Jewish Book Council named Jewish Lives the winner of its Jewish Book of the Year Award, the first series ever to receive this award.

More praise for Jewish Lives:

"Excellent" –New York Times

"Exemplary" –Wall St. Journal

"Distinguished" –New Yorker

"Superb" –The Guardian

Adam Phillips is former Principal Child Psychotherapist at Charing Cross Hospital, London, and is now a psychoanalyst in private practice. His most recent book is One Way and Another: New and Selected Essays.

“An intelligent and well-written book.”—Steven Marcus, New York Times
‘The book’s structure is bound by two constraints: the brevity of the period covered – the first 50 years of Freud’s life (he lived until he was 83) - and his Jewishness. But, as with Shakespeare working within the strictures of the sonnet form, Phillips presses these potential limits to acute and dazzling effect.’—Salley Vickers, The Daily Telegraph
‘[T]his short, meditative succeeds superbly in delineating the culture and thought processes that lay behind his work.’—Ian Critchley, The Sunday Times

‘More a biographical essay than a comprehensive biography, since it ends with Freud aged 50, this beautifully lucid book is jargon-free and richly informative, which is hardly surprising since Phillips was the series editor of The New Penguin Freud.’—Helen Meany, Irish Times

"As a writer, Mr. Phillips specializes in paradoxes and antitheses — almost all of which he puts forth thoughtfully and gracefully . . . An intelligent and well-written book."—Steven Marcus, New York Times

"An audacious book. . . . Its implicit goal, never stated but always clear, is to help us salvage the best parts of Freud’s work while leaving behind the rest—the outmoded theories and unwieldy jargon that make Freud a caricature rather than an intriguing thinker."—Joshua Rothman, New Yorker Blog

"Clear and engaging."—Kirkus Reviews

"A compact intellectual biography. . . . Phillips often illuminatingly reads Freud's thinking against the background of his life circumstances. . . . Probably more than any other psychoanalytically informed writer, Phillips has continued to enrich this mode of thought by literary means, through sheer force of style."—Kenneth Baker, San Francisco Chronicle

"Adam Phillips is, I believe, one of the most engaging writers in the world on analysis and the analytic movement . . . Phillips’s own love of the beauty and power of psychoanalysis here serves both him and the reader wonderfully well."—Vivian Gornick, New York Times Book Review

“In this compact intellectual biography, as in nearly all his writings, Phillips excels at redescribing concepts and experiences whose meanings appear settled, stale or too technical.”—San Francisco Chronicle
Becoming Freud offers more than enough proof that Phillips is the ideal author of a book about Freud.’—Talitha Stevenson, Financial Times

“In a way that is typical of Phillips’s writing, the book narrates, interprets and glosses Freud’s life and work with a lucidity and lightness of touch that immediately make them resonant and comprehensible to the readers less familiar with his subject while speaking from a distinctive position that can, sometimes brilliantly, open up fresh perspectives to those well acquainted Freudian thought.”—Nicholas Ray, Years Work in Critical Studies 
ISBN: 9780300158663
Publication Date: May 27, 2014
192 pages, 5 3/4 x 8 1/4
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