Frederick Crews, a prominent literary critic, was a defender of Freudian methods and theories in the 1960’s, but he then became an angry opponent of these approaches, as demonstrated in his book, THE MEMORY WARS: FREUD’S LEGACY IN DISPUTE (1995). In UNAUTHORIZED FREUD: DOUBTERS CONFRONT A LEGEND, Crews has assembled impressive readings by seventeen heavyweight scholars who more or less share his point of view, including Frank Cioffi, Frank Sulloway, Malcolm Macmillan, and Ernest Geller.
Several of the selections concentrate on Freud’s methods, judged from the perspectives of logic and empirical evidence. Barbara van Eckardt’s essay, for instance, emphasizes how Freud assumed the truth of his theories, without any effort to consider alternative explanations. Philosopher of science Adolf Grunbaum argues that Freud loaded the dice by hinting at the kind of experiences the patient was expected to remember, so that Freud’s clinical findings had no real probative value for determining the truth of his theories.
The most interesting readings of the book are the critical evaluations of Freud’s case studies, especially the cases of Anna O., Dora, Little Hans, the Wolf Man, and Horace Frink. According to the contributors, there is no evidence that any of these individuals actually benefited from their therapeutic sessions, or even that they ever claimed to have received any benefit. Likewise, Crews’ contributors argue that Freud failed to...
(The entire section is 306 words.)
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Frederick Crews is a literary critic and former chair of the English department of the University of California at Berkeley. In the 1960’s, he accepted the validity of Freudian theories and methods as a useful tool in literary criticism, but he gradually became convinced that these approaches were fundamentally false and pernicious. An emotional man, Crews became angry about the excesses of the recovered-memory movement of the 1980’s, and he concluded that the movement was a legacy of classical Freudian techniques. He published several of his anti-Freudian essays in Skeptical Essays (1986), and the appearance of his polemical writings in The Memory Wars: Freud’s Legacy in Dispute (1995) made him a bête noire to the psychoanalytic establishment. Even Crews’s strongest opponents, nevertheless, admit that his writings are cogently argued and that he is extremely knowledgeable about the relevant literature. The selections in Unauthorized Freud are taken from both books and scholarly articles by seventeen established experts. Averaging about ten pages each, the selections have already appeared in print, and a few are well known as minor classics. Some readers who are interested in locating quotations will become irritated to learn that Crews has not included the footnotes that accompanied the original publications; in the selections from books, moreover, he does not indicate the page numbers where the selections are located. Although...
(The entire section is 2080 words.)