Sigmund Freud (Routledge Critical Thinkers) by P. Thurschwell
Publisher: Routledge | Number Of Pages: 176 | Publication Date: 2000-11-07 | Sales Rank: 2919479 | ISBN: 041521520X | PDF | 2 Mb
Pamela Thurschwell's text on Sigmund Freud is part of a recent series put out by the Routledge Press, designed under the general editorial direction of Robert Eaglestone (Royal Holloway, University of London), to explore the most recent and exciting ideas in intellectual development during the past century or so. To this end, figures such as Martin Heidegger, Jacques Derrida, Friedrich Nietzsche, Paul Ricoeur, and other influential thinkers in critical thought are highlighted in the series, planned to include at least 21 volumes in all.
Thurschwell's text, following the pattern of the others, includes background information on Freud and its significance, the key ideas and sources, and Freud's continuing impact on other thinkers. As the series preface indicates, no critical thinker arises in a vacuum, so the context, influences and broader cultural environment are all important as a part of the study, something with which Freud might agree.
Why is Freud included in this series? It is hard to come up with a more controversial and influential thinker in the twentieth century than Sigmund Freud. His name has become a household word by those who know absolute nothing about him or his real work. While starting out in the then newly-developed field of psychology as a primary focus, his thought and intellectual influence has extended far beyond to almost every academic field. Particularly in the areas of philosophy, politics, theology, sociology, and science, Freud's influence will continue to be significant for a number of reasons.
Thurschwell's text is well organised. In the first chapter, she recounts both a brief biographical sketch of Freud, as well as the discussion on how Freud's development of psychoanalytic ideas and processes impacted the intellectual development of the early twentieth century. It is important to know which time-period of Freud his works were produced - a career in such a new field that extended for such a length of time means that Freud's ideas not only developed rapidly, but sometimes came to contradict each other. Thurschwell sees this kind of development as a strength rather than a weakness, but it does call for increased care on the part of scholars and other interpreters, to be careful about just how much authority to lend to any particular work or idea.
One of the useful features of the text is the side-bar boxes inserted at various points. For example, during the discussion on Freud's development of sexuality (obviously a major theme in Freud from the start), there are brief discussions, set apart from the primary strand of the text, on the Super-Ego, Perversion, the Castration Complex, and Ambivalence, developing further these ideas should the reader not be familiar with them, or at least not in the way with which Freud would be working with ideas derived from them. Each section on a key idea spans twenty to thirty pages, with a two-page summary concluding each, which gives a recap of the ideas (and provides a handy reference).
The book is designed so that each chapter can be a stand-alone essay, peripherally related to each other, but not dependent upon any particular order of reading. Should the reader want a quick introduction to Freud's development on society and religion, or an overview of Freud's case histories, those can be read independently or out of sequence without any loss of accessibility by the reader. Should this text be used as part of a class, the chapters can be rearranged to suit any number of syllabi patterns.
Part of the problem of putting Freud into a series like this is that the series requires the identification of key ideas. Thurschwell develops six key areas (as opposed to ideas). The first of these are Freud's early theories on hysteria, hynosis, cathartic methods, repression, fantasy, and free association. Next comes a discussion on dream and thought interpretation. Freud's ideas on sexuality occurs next, followed by an examination of some of the case studies conducted by Freud. These are generally accessible and fascinating, not the least of which reason comes from the work with and explorations of therapeutic relationship which, if occurring today, would be at least a breach of professional ethics, and at worst legally actionable! The final two subjects include Freud's mind-mapping ideas, and his ideas for the development of society and religion.
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