Psychoanalysis, Jews and History

in European Judaism
David Herman
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The early accounts of Freud's life and the history of psychoanalysis tended to marginalise Jewishness and antisemitism. It is not that Ernest Jones, Henri F. Ellenberger and Richard Wollheim excluded them altogether. There were passing references to Freud's Jewish background in Moravia, antisemitism in late nineteenth-century Vienna, his largely Jewish circle, his fascination with Moses and the psychoanalytic exodus after the Anschluss in 1938. However, there was a big shift after the 1980s and ’90s in the historiography of psychoanalysis. First, there was a growing interest in the culture and politics of fin-de-siècle Vienna and in Budapest and Prague. Second, there was a growing interest in the world of Jewish Orthodoxy in central and east Europe and its influence on Freud's generation, and a new concern with antisemitism and race in nineteenth-century medical science and how psychoanalysis can be seen as a response to these new discourses.

Contributor Notes

David Herman worked as a television and radio producer for twenty years, including a series on psychoanalysis and another on the history of madness. In the last twenty years he has written almost a thousand articles, essays and reviews for a range of British and American Jewish and non-Jewish publications. He produced a series of discussions on psychoanalysis for Channel 4.

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