Becoming Freud: The Making of a Psychoanalyst
by Adam Phillips
Becoming Freud is the story of the young Freud—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.
Hear a thought-provoking interview as Sara Ivry of Tablet speaks with Adam Phillips about his new biography of Freud. Click Here
"Telling a great story gracefully and with the clarity it deserves... Phillips demonstrates that Freud remains central to the urgent questions of modernism..."—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
“Becoming Freud offers more than enough proof that Phillips is the ideal author of a book about Freud.”—Talitha Stevenson, Financial 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
"As a writer, Mr. Phillips specializes in paradoxes and antitheses — almost all of which he puts forth thoughtfully and gracefully...An intelligent and well-written book."--Steven Marcus, New York Times
"[T]his short, meditative succeeds superbly in delineating the culture and thought processes that lay behind his work."—Ian Critchley,The Sunday 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
"Clear and engaging." --Kirkus Reviews
"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
To see a video of the June 10, 2014 92nd St Y event "On the Couch with Adam Phillips and Daphne Merkin on Freud" Click Here
To read an interview in the Toronto Star with Adam Phillips about Freud Click Here