Freud: A Life for Our Time  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Freud: A Life for Our Time is a 1988 biography of Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud by historian Peter Gay, who draws on new material that has become available since the publication of Ernest Jones' The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud.

Scholarly reception

Gay's work has been criticized by several writers skeptical of psychoanalysis. Allen Esterson has identified it as one of several works that uncritically repeat Freud's account of how his early clinical experiences led to the creation of psychoanalysis. Esterson argues that this account, in which Freud's patients reported to him that they had been sexually abused in early childhood, and Freud subsequently realized that in most cases these assaults were phantasies rather than real events, is false.

Richard Webster writes while Freud: A Life for Our Time is presented an objective exercise in historical scholarship, and considers the failings of psychoanalysis and investigate Freud's mistakes, it nonetheless retains a reverent attitude toward Freud, preserving the myths about Freud created by previous biographers. Webster calls these myths the "Freud legend". Webster believes that the acclaim the book received shows the persistence of the Freud legend, noting that with exceptions such as Peter Swales, many reviewers praised it, especially in Britain. He sees its appeal to supporters of psychoanalysis as being its favorable view of Freudian ideas.

Todd Dufresne writes that Gay's book has a "reverential" attitude to psychoanalysis, noting that critics have objected that it reports as fact claims that have long been known to be mistaken, including details concerning the treatment of Freud's patient Anna O.

See also

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