Editorial Reviews - Freud: From Youthful Dream to Midlife Crisis

Publishers Weekly

Newton uses Freud's published correspondence with boyhood friend Eduard Silberstein to show that, by age 19, Freud dreamed of becoming not only a great scientist but a revolutionary healer as well. In this engrossing biography, Newton, a psychology professor at the Wright Institute in California, challenges Jeffrey Masson's accusation, in The Assault on Truth (1985), that political expedience motivated Freud to abandon his seduction theory, according to which neurosis results from the sexual molestation of small children. Drawing on Freud's letters to his mentor, Wilhelm Fliess, Newton compellingly argues that Freud's own clinical case studies scuttled the seduction theory, and that Freud's ensuing despair at his inability to uncover the root cause of neurosis led to his systematic self-analysis and to his book The Interpretation of Dreams (1899). By treating Freud's life as a series of developmental stages of personal growth, Newton has fashioned an often startling portrait rich in clinical insights.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Book News, Inc.

A biography of Freud shedding new light on current debates about his theories. Newton (psychology, The Wright Institute) demonstrates how giving up the seduction theory swept Freud into a mid-life crisis, and examines newly discovered personal letters between Freud and his boyhood friend, and letters to his fiancee. Newton charts the evolution of Freud's thought through a continuing sequence of developmental periods and tasks, and argues that Freud didn't give up the seduction theory out of political expediency. Annotation copyright Book News, Inc. Portland, Or.

All Customer Reviews
Avg. Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars

5 out of 5 starsWhy did Freud abandon his famous seduction theory? , February11, 2003
Reviewer: doncorleone1078 from Upstate NY USA

Does anyone other then Sigmund Freud know why he abandoned his seduction theory so quickly, one that he thought would bring him fame and fortune as a revolutionary healer? I would have to say no. Masson and Newton both give compelling arguments to what they both believe to be the truth of why Freud did what he did; Masson claiming Freud abandoned his seduction theory because of political and social preasure, Newton claiming Freud did so because he was fighting a mid life crisis. It is impossible to form an opinion without reading them both carefully, so I think this book, along with Masson's, is worth the read. My synopsis is that Freud never really gave up on the seduction theory at all, but simply realized that he would get much farther going a different route, then bringing Victoria Austria to it's knees by claiming it was laden with child molesters.

5 out of 5 starsGroundbreaking study on Freud , November 30, 1999
Reviewer: Jeffrey S. Kaye from San Francisco, CA

With so many biographies and books on Freud, the question is why read another? Newton's biographical study of Freud is unique in examining the great psychologist's life from an adult developmental viewpoint. The key achievement of this book is a finely detailed study of how Freud's adult development -- his dreams of accomplishment, his relationships, and career decisions -- interlock with Freud's creative achievement in creating the foundations of psychoanalysis in the midst of a mid-life crisis. Newton argues that the tasks of the mid-life crisis were peculiarly interrelated with Freud's creative achievement. Incidentally, this finely researched and written book demolishes Jeffrey Masson's notorious thesis that Freud abandoned his theory of infantile seduction due to cowardice, with Newton relying heavily upon Freud's written correspondence with his friend, Fliess. An exciting book that reads at times like a novel.