A New York Times Pick of the Week
One of Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2017
A Library Journal bestseller in psychology
From the master of Freud debunkers, the book that definitively puts an end to the myth of psychoanalysis and its creator
Since the 1970s, Sigmund Freud’s scientific reputation has been in an accelerating tailspin—and for excellent reasons. Nevertheless, the idea persists that some of his proposals were visionary discoveries. In Freud: The Making of an Illusion, Frederick Crews investigates the record and reveals findings that will revolutionize our conception of the therapist, the theorist, and the human being.
Drawing on rarely consulted archives, Crews shows us a man who blundered tragicomically in his dealings with patients, who never produced a corroborated cure, who promoted cocaine in one decade and was deluded by it in the next, who misunderstood the psychological controversies of the era, and who advanced his career through falsifying case histories and betraying the mentors who had helped him to rise. The contrary legend has persisted, Crews shows, thanks to Freud’s self-fashioning as a master detective of the psyche and later through a campaign of censorship and obfuscation conducted by his followers.
A monumental biographical study and a slashing critique, Freud: The Making of an Illusion will stand as the last word on one of the most significant and contested figures of the twentieth century.
“Freud: The Making of an Illusion [is] a…stake driven into its subject’s cold, cold heart…Crews is an attractively uncluttered stylist, and he has an amazing story to tell.” —New Yorker
“Crews opens his study with the question of how Freud, whose scientific reputation has plummeted over the past decades, could retain so much cultural capital in the twenty-first century. In a single volume, he draws a portrait of Freud the liar, cheat, incestuous child molester, and all-around nasty nut job, bringing a new level of detail to these accounts.” —New York Times
“Crews [is] going in for the kill. A damning portrait.” —Esquire
“Diligently documented…neither sensationalized nor ranting…A scorching summation.” —Chronicle of Higher Education
“A powerful and thorough takedown of Sigmund Freud.” —Vulture
“Impressively well-researched, powerfully written, and definitively damning.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A stunning indictment of Sigmund Freud…Paints a portrait of Freud as a man who cared more about himself than his patients and more about success than science.” —Publishers Weekly
“The Freudian myth?one of the thought-deforming tyrannies of the twentieth century?is hereby at an end. This book is as exhilarating as the fall of the Berlin wall.” —Stewart Justman, author of The Psychological Mystique
“A riveting, masterful biography of Freud that demolishes forever the myth of the brilliant, heroic conquistador of the human mind. Delving deeply into hitherto suppressed archival material, Crews paints an unforgettable portrait of an utterly incompetent psychotherapist whose ruthless pursuit of wealth and fame led him to disregard the welfare of his patients as well as the scruples of scientific method.” —Richard J. McNally, author of What Is Mental Illness?
“For those who worship Freud and even those millions who have simply admired his ideas, Crews’s rigorous and captivating detective work will be a bracing challenge.” —Elizabeth Loftus, coauthor of The Myth of Repressed Memory
About the Author:
Frederick Crews is the author of many books, including the bestselling satire The Pooh Perplex, Postmodern Pooh, and most recently, Follies of the Wise, which was a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award. A professor emeritus of English at the University of California, Berkeley, and a longtime contributor to the New York Review of Books, he is widely regarded as the leading critic of Freud and psychoanalysis.