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Freudian Fraud: The Malignant Effect of Freud's Theory on American Thought and Culture.

Sometimes we use words indiscriminately. For example, whenever we attribute motive to another person, and use words such as "constricted," "repressed" and perhaps even the more accurate "anal retentive" to describe another person, we "speak Freud." The extent to which Freud's theories have crept into our language and our underlying assumptions will surprise some of Torrey's readers. In his twelfth book, E. Fuller Torrey, M.D. reveals how Freudian theory permeates American thought through underlying assumptions in our language.

From the many biographies written about Sigmund Freud, Dr. Torrey determined that Freud, desperately wanting fame and money, falsified details about psychoanalysis and used cocaine long after it had been declared addictive. Deeply superstitious, Freud tried to placate the fates, dabbled in telepathy, and often consulted soothsayers.

Intellectuals in the United States, who liked his ideas about sexual liaisons outside of marriage, brought Freud's theories to the United States. Many of his early champions embraced Marxism as well. Torrey also links the nature-nurture component of Freud's theory to the eugenic movement. He presents evidence to show that the Nazis borrowed ideas central to the eugenic movement (then popular in the United States) and incorporated them into their destructive doctrine.

The Freudian trained analysts who fled from Nazi Germany to the United States soon became firmly entrenched in the psychoanalytic community. After World War II when the nature part of the nature-nurture controversy became firmly linked with the Nazis, Freudians emphasized the nurture part of his theory.

Dr. Torrey documents the ways that Freud's theories crept into films, plays, magazines, and newspapers. Dr. Benjamin Spock, who revolutionized child care, preached Freud's theories of early childhood sexuality and the Oedipal complex. Professors taught Freud and universities even gave extra credit to students who underwent Freudian psychoanalysis. By the 1960's Freud's influence pervaded psychology, literature, and history departments in many universities. Articles with a Freudian slant appeared in popular magazines and thus reached millions of readers.

The Leopold and Loeb trial brought Freud's theory into the courtroom. Karl Menninger spread them through the criminal justice system. Not surprisingly then, Freudian theory crept into the underlying assumptions of modern language usage.

Dr. Torrey carefully documents his thesis. He includes a section about research studies that tried but failed to validate Freud's theory. Torrey focuses especially on research delving into early childhood experiences and toilet training, because according to Freud, early childhood experiences determine adult personality.

Overall, Torrey makes a convincing case about the extent of Freud's influence and the way it has burrowed into the underlying assumptions commonly contained in our language.
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Author:Theodoulou, Maxine S.
Publication:ETC.: A Review of General Semantics
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 22, 1993
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