The Memory Wars: Freud's Legacy in Dispute

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New York Review of Books, 1995 - Literary Collections - 299 pages
In 1993 and 1994, The New York Review of Books published two tenaciously argued essays by Frederick Crews attacking Freudian psychoanalysis and its aftermath in the so-called recovered memory movement. The first reviewed a growing body of evidence indicating that Freud doctored his data and manipulated his colleagues in an effort to consolidate a cult-like following that would neither defy nor upstage him. The second, published in two parts, challenged the scientific and therapeutic claims of the rapidly growing recovered memory movement, maintaining that its social effects have been devastating. Crews traced that movement to Freudian precedent - not just to Freud's abandoned "seduction theory" but also to the most essential assumptions of psychoanalysis itself. The response was tremendous: issues flew off the stands, and therapists, patients, scholars, philosophers, and others whose lives had been touched by Freud's ideas responded in one of the largest waves of letters the Review had ever seen. Twenty-five of these were published, with Crews's deft and forceful replies. Most are gathered here, together with Crews's original essays, a new introduction describing the genesis of his pieces, and an epilogue considering the debate and its reverberations. The result is a fierce, contentious, and startling book that rocks the foundations of one of the century's governing ideas.

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