Follies of the Wise: Dissenting Essays

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Counterpoint Press, 2006 - Psychology - 405 pages
Best-selling author and Berkeley professor of thirty years Frederick Crews has always considered himself a skeptic. Forty years ago he thought he had found a tradition of thought -- Freudian psychoanalytic theory -- that had skepticism built into it. He gradually realized, however, that true skepticism is an attitude of continual questioning. The more closely Crews examined the logical structure and institutional history of psychoanalysis, the more clearly he realized that Freud's system of thought lacked empirical rigor. Indeed, he came to see Freudian theory as the very model of a modern pseudoscience.

Follies of the Wise contains Crews's best writing of the past fifteen years, including such controversial and widely quoted pieces as "The Unknown Freud" and "The Revenge of the Repressed," essays whose effects still reverberate today. In addition, his topics range from "Intelligent Design" creationism to theosophy, from psychological testing to UFO zaniness, from American Buddhism to the current state of literary criticism. A single theme animates his bracing and witty discussions: the temptation to reach for deep wisdom without attending to the little voice that asks, "Could I, by any chance, be deceiving myself here?"
 

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Follies of the Wise: Dissenting Essays

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If Freud is, perhaps, no longer "a whole climate of opinion" (as characterized in Auden├ƒ┬»├‚┬┐├‚┬Żs memorial poem), he is still everywhere in the culture: what educated reader today has not heard of ... Read full review

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I'd read most of these essays before, either in The Memory Wars or, in the case of the more recent essays, when they were originally published in The New York Review of Books. It's a diverse collection! To the extent that there is a unifying theme to this book, it's repressed memory—the common element in orthodox psychoanalysis, the modern recovered memories of ritualistic Satanic child abuse, alien abductions, and so on. Not all of these essays deal with repressed memory, but most do. Crews describes the distinctive characteristics that repression is supposed to have, the ways in which it differs from simple forgetting or from any other everyday experience, and identifies it as an idiosyncratic notion from the specific school of thought associated with such people as Mesmer, Charcot, Freud, Jung, and their intellectual heirs. Crews is skeptical that such a phenomenon exists. He believes that accepting such a concept is the single biggest mistake of those schools of thought that do accept it; it assigns explanatory power to the inaccessable, and allows circular reasoning between presumed effects and presumed causes. It's the single biggest reason why he believes that psychoanalysis, in all of its various factions, is a pseudoscience. 

Contents

The Unknown Freud
13
Freudian Suspicion versus Suspicion of Freud
41
A Handful of Dust
60
Unconscious Deeps and Empirical Shallows
69
The Revenge of the Repressed Part I
89
The Revenge of the Repressed Part II
110
Demonology for an Age of Science
132
The Trauma Trap
151
The New Creationists and Their Friends
252
Darwin Goes to Sunday School
268
Zen and the Art of Success
280
The End of the Poststructuralist Era
295
Kafka in the Clouds
313
Call Me Liberal
326
Compromises with Creationism
341
Freud Lacan and the Pseudoscientific Academy
349

Keeping Us in Hysterics
171
Out Damned Blot
185
The Mind Snatchers
198
The Consolation of Theosophy
217
The Esoteric Unconscious
231
Notes
363
Works Cited
377
Index
395
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