Becoming Freud

The Making of a Psychoanalyst

Adam Phillips

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

"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

Becoming Freud is the story of the young Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)—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

"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

"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
"Telling a great story gracefully and with the clarity it deserves, in all its layers, Adam Phillips demonstrates that Freud remains central to the urgent questions of modernism— social, political and cultural, as well as psychological. I will be thinking about specific sentences in this book for a long time."—Robert Pinsky

"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
ISBN: 9780300158663
Publication Date: May 27, 2014
192 pages, 5 3/4 x 8 1/4
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