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Anna Freud.

Macmillan Papermac. 12.99 [pounds].

Just as an analysis in which the interpretation is too cautious is not effective, so a biography which lacks, behind the facts, the shadow area of informed, speculative commentary going beyond mere, coarse guesswork, must fail to show the transcending, creative excellence which entitles it to be seen as the definitive work on the subject. Elisabeth Young-Bruehl's manifesto of her method in a minefield is worth putting on record as an apparent pattern for the practice of biography: thus (inter alia) |I have not used any statements in existing biographies of Freud or Anna Freud for which no primary documentation was cited; statements in published sources that were based upon uncited interview material have been disregarded; statements made to me in interviews have not been used unless corroborated by at least one other interviewee'. The consequence, unfortunately, of such quasi-judicial constraints, is, indeed, a lifelessness of the book as a work of art. The author has, for instance, interviewed a number of Anna Freud's analysands; of course, she must not name them, but any reader wishing to know what it was like to be analysed by Anna Freud will be disappointed. Another inherent fetter on all such Freudian works is the continuing embargoes imposed by the Archives.

Perhaps it is right that the material of Freud's ongoing, interrupted analysis of Anna Freud is not available to scholars. There is, anyway, plenty of circumambient evidence from variant sources, such as her beating fantasies. At that time, some fellow clinicians were shocked by Freud's taking on his own daughter: stricter regulation followed later. Freud himself considered the analysis to be a success. Elisabeth Young-Bruehl sets out practical reasons for the father-daughter analysis, such as the financial situation of the family in 1918, but she does not really address the deeper ambiguities of the transference and the counter-transference. Did Freud do to Anna what, famously, Martin Amis said, parents do to children? The answer of the faithful, of course, is that both were enriched by her adoration and that her branchings into child theory and practice are a further glory. Anna Freud remained a |vestal' guarding both herself, her father, and the citadel of psychoanalysis. She drew back--|As far as I can see, being in love is never really enjoyable'. Depression accompanied Freud's own reflections on his need of Anna -- |And therefore in view of all these insoluble conflicts it is good that life comes to an end sometime or other'. Ernest Jones, apparently, privately maintained that Anna Freud projected her unresolved Oedipus complex into her theories of the technique of child analysis. The themes of her inner life, including her anger at her mother, who was more fond of her sister, Sophie, are intensely neurotic, but she battled on through a long, useful, resigned, sacrificial and noble life, shoring her work against a tide of repeated, |unfair' bereavements. She was more dedicated than Freud to ensuring that psychoanalysis and its concomitant applications should not be confined to the rich.

Less magisterial than Peter Gay's contemporary Freud, and also more rigid, Elisabeth Young-Bruehl's work, impeccable, as we have seen, as to fact, takes its rightful place in the chronicles of psychoanalysis.
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Author:Tibbs, Molly
Publication:Contemporary Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jul 1, 1992
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