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Becoming Freud (Jewish Lives) [Kindle Edition]

Adam Phillips
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'Becoming Freud offers more than enough proof that Phillips is the ideal author of a book about Freud.'-Talitha Stevenson, Financial Times -- Talitha Stevenson Financial Times 'The book's structure is bound by two constraints: the brevity of the period covered - the first 50 years of Freud's life (he lived until he was 83) - and his Jewishness. But, as with Shakespeare working within the strictures of the sonnet form, Phillips presses these potential limits to acute and dazzling effect.'-Salley Vickers, The Daily Telegraph -- Salley Vickers The Daily Telegraph '[T]his short, meditative succeeds superbly in delineating the culture and thought processes that lay behind his work.'-Ian Critchley, The Sunday Times -- 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 -- Helen Meany The Irish Times "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 -- Steven Marcus New York 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 -- Joshua Rothman New Yorker Blog "Clear and engaging."-Kirkus Reviews Kirkus Reviews "A compact intellectual biography... Phillips often illuminatingly reads Freud's thinking against the background of his life circumstances... Probably more than any other psychoanalytically informed writer, Phillips has continued to enrich this mode of thought by literary means, through sheer force of style."-Kenneth Baker, San Francisco Chronicle -- Kenneth Baker San Francisco Chronicle "Phillips excels at re-describing concepts and experiences whose meanings appear settled, stale or too technical."-Kenneth Baker, San Francisco Chronicle -- Kenneth Baker San Francisco Chronicle "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 -- 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 -- Vivian Gornick New York Times Book Review


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.


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5.0 von 5 Sternen A very clever reading of Freud 11. Juli 2014
Von mfzh
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
This small book is not a biography of the founder of Psychoanalysis, it's a psychoanalyst's reading of Freud through the lens of Freud's discoveries. I enjoyed it very much.
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1.0 von 5 Sternen Quality of the book is suspiciou 1. August 2014
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
Something is wrong with this book. The quality of the paper is terrible. The edges of the papers are not cut offed. It looks like someone made this book at home. very bad qulity!
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 3.8 von 5 Sternen  29 Rezensionen
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5.0 von 5 Sternen A biography that champions the young, exciting Freud. 8. August 2014
Von The Reluctant Psychoanalyst - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
Adam Phillips’ slender biography of Freud published this year (2014) and titled “Becoming Freud” is one that I was quite intrigued to read. It is brief, written by an analyst who is also the editor of the new Penguin Standard Edition of Freud – someone who is editing the new translations without speaking German! Does he get Freud? Well, he spends the first chapter clarifying that, from Freud’s perspective, there is no such thing as an accurate biography. From Freud’s (via Phillips) perspective, the biography is more about the biographer than about the object of the biography, just as this blog is more about me than about Adam Phillips’ work, and just as what you think or say about this blog is more about you than me, Phillips, or Freud. From Freud’s perspective, it is the subjective experience of the person that matters. And this is, I believe, at the heart of what it is that Freud had to say and certainly Phillips takes this stance as well.

So Phillips approach to Freud is not to flat footedly analyze him by attributing actions to hypothesized unconscious motivations as others have sometimes done, instead he takes a swirling, free associational stab at describing Freud’s history – what is known and so much that is unknown and, in a weird approach for a psychoanalyst, he analyzes not Freud the person so much as Freud the socio- psychoanalytic individual who emerges at a particular point in history – the history of European thought – he sees Freud as a left over Romantic as the world is becoming modern (ironically largely at his prodding) – and the history of European Judaism – Freud may be a Godless Jew, but he is deeply determined, Phillips believes, by his cultural origins.

To see the rest of the review, please Google Adam Phillips and the Reluctant Psychoanalyst...
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4.0 von 5 Sternen An account both expansive and profound 1. November 2014
Von Wally Wood - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Adam Phillips, an English psychoanalyst and general editor of the new Penguin Modern Classics translations of Sigmund Freud, has written a concise biography, Becoming Freud: The Making of a Psychoanalyst, which follows Freud up to the age of fifty.

Interestingly for someone whose life work was explicating a patient's biography, Freud was against anyone writing his. Indeed, when he was 30 he wrote his fiancee that he had destroyed all his notes, letters, scientific excerpts, and manuscripts of his papers to frustrate future biographers. This, Phillips points out, from a man "with no distinctive professional achievements . . . a man [who thinks he] will be worthy not of one biography but of many."

Phillips does his best to put Freud into his place and times. Although Freud was a secular Jew, he was conscious of his Jewishness (and a sister died in the Holocaust) and worried that psychiatry would be seen as a "Jewish science." He was trained as a doctor, but had little interest in medicine. He was far more interested in language, in the stories people tell about themselves, and in writing his books. He presented himself as a scientist, but his books—Interpreting Dreams (1900), The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (1901), Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria, Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, and Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious (1905) and others—are hardly scientific.

However, as Phillips writes, "[t]he facts of a life—and indeed the facts of life—were among the many things that Freud's work has changed our way of thinking about. Freud's work shows us not merely that nothing in our lives is self-evident, that not even the facts of our lives speak for themselves, but that facts themselves look different from a psychoanalytic point of view." I found it interesting that while Freud listened to his patients for hidden meanings, symbols, buried fears, unacknowledged lusts, and more, working on the theory that these existed, he seems to have been arrogant enough to believe he himself was exempt from them. That, indeed, he could successfully analyze himself.

Yet, the psychoanalyst, Phillips writes, "is a historian who shows us that our histories are also the way we conceal the past from ourselves; the way we both acknowledge it and disavow it at the same time (to disavow it is, one way or another, to simplify it; to acknowledge it is to allow complication)." Freud showed modern people "how unconscious they were, how removed from a clear sense of their own intentions, how determinedly ignorant they were about their own pleasure." As a result, Freud argues, we are fundamentally divided against ourselves. We no longer know what is in our best interests—or even what our best interest might be.

For a short book (162 pages), Becoming Freud is both expansive and profound. Because Freud and his ideas have had such an impact on 20th century thought, Adam Phillips has done us a service by writing about the man and his thought so effectively.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen outstanding revealing, sympathetic comprehension of the seminal figure of Freud 20. Oktober 2014
Von Henry Berry - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
I was interested in this book because of my belief that unawareness of psychology—in many cases, tantamount to ignorance of it—along with at best bare knowledge or acknowledgement of history accounts largely for the weakness and decline of the U.S. Failure to recognize psychology and history so as to govern decision-making for shaping action results in madcap activities little different from antics—but one characterization of the decade-long U.S. commotion in Iraq and Afghanistan. So I was interested in this book to see if or how the author might make Freud relevant to today's miasmas and as some idea or answer whatever its angle or content for reintroducing the factor—unavoidable factor—of psychology to today's society and its politics and policies.

The book did not disappoint, and in fact exceeded by a good deal expectations I had of it, expectations raised by its author's longtime interests and credentials. As well as the general editor of new translations of Freud's works as a part of the Penguin Modern Classics, Phillips has worked as a hospital and private psychoanalyst in England and is a visiting professor of English at the University of York. He does recurringly imply or to a lesser extent, state the relevance of psychology to the contemporary world while following and analyzing the early years of Freud's career, up to 1906. "If Freud had died in 1906, we would...have been left with...the rudiments of, rather than prescriptions for, the practice of psychoanalysis."

As for insights into what Freud was doing in this stage of his career—as opposed to the illuminating commentary exemplified in the foregoing quote—Phillips writes, "Psychoanalysis was becoming in Freud's writing in these years the artful science of our false senses of security. Freud was discovering how modern people endangered themselves by the ways in which they protected themselves. Each of the so-called mechanisms of defense was an unconscious form of self-blinding; ways of occluding a piece of reality." Such insights could apply to the conflicts of the First World War as to the US thrashing about in the Middle East which has spawned manifold threats and countless enemies in the name of security. Psychology is permanent in Humankind.

Another insight regarding psychoanalysis as developed by Freud reads, "[W]hat Freud was interested in in these crucial years was not just the all-too-familiar, all-too-human imperious urgency of sex, but how the body becomes...its language; how culture is the translation...of the body's unconscious, forbidden desire, the desire a person believes he can't afford to acknowledge. Freud was not returning sexuality to its 'rightful share,' but working out what that share might be." This quote relates to the correct, but limited view of Freud as moving from the sexual repressions of the Victorian age, which is to a considerable degree what the movement of modernism is. But it also plainly takes in LGTB, fashion, advertising, sexting, agitation on college campuses concerning rape, and other explicitly and inherently sexual phenomena and issues of today.

The content of the book progresses cumulatively with Freud taking on both depth and dimension. How Freud individually and to some extent idiosyncratically pursues and develops his interests melds with interaction with various friends and associates and with different places, notably Paris. Key writings, particularly "Studies on Hysteria" written with Josef Breuer, are looked into as both summations and entrances. Origins of theory are recognized, and clinical activity described. But even more important than all this in Freud becoming Freud, the author tenders, was his experiences and observations as a father and husband. "Freud had six children in eight years" between his formative years of 1886 to 1900. Being married and being a father of several young children while endeavoring to establish himself as a psychoanalyst and earn a reputation cannot but make an impression and create effects. That all the case studies of "Studies on Hysteria" were women and the Oedipus complex is a major, central tenet of the field of psychology go to support Phillips' idea that Freud's family life was the source of psychoanalysis. Freud's education, friendships, professional associations, social environment, and other areas of his life brought embellishments or refinements to Freud's insights and concepts derived largely from his family life.

Referring to these years of the first period of his married life with six young children, Phillips relates, "It is, perhaps, unsurprising that in these years Freud was beginning to really think about people's connections with each other, about what they exchanged, and wanted to exchange and failed to exchange with each other; about, in short, sexuality and development and loss." The light the author casts on Freud's family life makes perfect sense when you think about it. The family life accounts more than anything else for Freud's general orientation and also for the genesis and to a considerable extent the scenarios and specifics of the psychology Freud worked out.

One could go on. Nearly every page and many paragraphs of the book merit thought, study, and reflection. Phillips' "Becoming Freud" reaffirms the value of psychology; and for ones who tend to dismiss or ignore it, the book conveys psychology's irreplaceable relevance and inestimable worth. The book is an outstanding revealing and sympathetic comprehension of the towering, pervasive Freud who more than any other individual reflects and influences the culture of modernism.

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Freud Rocks and so does Phillips 16. Juni 2014
Von marcus - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Adam Phillips is the most interesting writer/thinker
imaginable. If you are interested in Freud, history,
being Jewish, being a genius, or just a fabulous
read in stylish writing, get this at your independent
11 von 15 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Dream Work Ahead - Reading Phillips on Freud 7. August 2014
Von Margy Fetting - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
I was sitting in a cafe yesterday on an island in the Aegean Sea, vigorously engaged with Adam Phillip's ecstatic sentences, while concluding his latest and most riveting book, "Becoming Freud".

A southern gentleman psychiatrist sat down next to me and looked at my tri-color markings and notebook. "Ah, he warmly critiqued, "you must not know how to separate the wheat from the chaff?" A visceral response swelled up in me , "The author has a reverence for the sentence, and I his".

I searched later and found a George Elliot sentence,“A friend is one to whom one may pour out the contents of one's heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that gentle hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.”

A reader friend for decades sends her thanks for a most stirring, unsettling and intimate read of new pleasures to add to our dream work.
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