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Final Analysis: The Making and Unmaking of a Psychoanalyst Paperback – 1 Nov 1991
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Of course Masson was drummed out of the profession, lost his jobs with Freud archives and the copyright group. He always seemed grossly or at least faintly surprised at the hostile reaction by colleagues to his assertions and the papers he delivered, even to the end, so one has to wonder why he didn't wise up. He doesn't sound bitter, but no doubt he was, and no one in the profession comes off very well, so the reader should approach some of Masson's judgments with skepticism. Still, this is a confessional book and Masson seems to have tried to bare all, with as much honesty as someone who believes in the power of self-analysis.
Highly recommend for the knowledge alone, let alone a great read just by itself!
Masson rejects not only psychoanalysis but all psychotherapy and withdraws into a a tiny world pulling away from hope of change for suffering humanity, Yet there are many hard working, dedicated clinicians and therapists successfully relieving human suffering. I agree with Masson that there is no One Truth, no one size fits all but there are many approaches that show promise. For ordinary human suffering meditation has proven very effective. I highly recommend Sogyal Rinpoche's The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, Jack Kornfield's A Path With Heart, and any of Thich Naht Hanh's many books. For people who wish for a purely secular approach go to Dr. Andrew Weil's website and use his simple breathing techniques. For treating deeper suffering arising from trauma a combo of meditation along with some form of talking therapy has been helpful. Here again Kornfield's, a clinical psychologist and a meditation teacher is helpful. For the deepest depression It might be necessary to combine psychotropic drugs and talking therapy. Ask the person treating you where they stand on such combinations of treatment. So forget Masson's utter rejection of hope. He is completely disillusioned and seems to have thrown in the towel.
My final complaint is Masson's honestly expressed but often unexplained rejection of those he disagrees with or distrusts. One of them is Paul Roazen his colleague at the University of Toronto. Masson makes clear he thoroughly disliked Roazen's important book Freud and his Followers as terrible and didn't trust Roazen personally. No further comment follows. His explanation doesn't belong in the body of his narrative but deserves mention in the appendix.. Roazen has been called by critics the father of psychoanalytic historiography. He devoted his life to uncovering the truth about Freud and psychoanalysis and restoring the damaged reputations of psychoanalysts destroyed by Freud and his inner defenders of the faith. Those savaged and restored include Sandor Ferenczi. The same man Masson too tries to defend in his book. There is no explanation for Masson's strong dislike for Roazen and his work only some bald, vague assertions of distaste and dislike. I really like both Masson and Roazen's book, which is very important and well researched and well written. I can only guess that Masson is disturbed that Roazen had empathy rather than enmity for Freud and his cause. Masson allowed his pain and hurt to occasionally get the better of him. He might revisit some of his more hurtful comments with some context.
The "master", of course, is Sigmund Freud, a man who referred to psychoanalysis as "die Sache" ("the cause") and garnered unquestioning loyalty among his disciples. The profound secrecy which characterized the workings of the inner circle, a select group to whom Freud gave engraved rings in a rather Tolkeinesque gesture, is something that has been perpetuated to this day. The machinations, jealousies and utter irrationality (how ironic!) of this small coterie makes for some fascinating reading, as does the account of Dr. Masson's encounters with Freud's heir and devotee, his daughter Anna.
I think that what impressed me most about this memoir was not Masson's meteoric fall from grace--somewhat like Icarus, he flew too near the sun--but his candid description of Anna Freud. This was a woman who was clearly obsessed with her father. Anna, a woman who "gave off an aura of physical coldness," never married or had children. When her father lay dying of cancer, she replaced her mother in Freud's sickroom, becoming, in effect, his surrogate wife. The fact that Freud psychoanalyzed Anna accentuates the strangeness of their relationship. (Imagine spending an hour every day describing your sexual fantasies to your father, and having him analyze them. Perhaps there was a good reason why the seventy-year-old Anna kept her bedroom filled with stuffed animals.) Unfortunately, the unnaturalness of Freud's family relations not only permeated Freud's life and writing, but infused itself into the entire belief system that is Freud's legacy.
After reading Dr. Masson's account, I would like to believe that psychoanalysis is on its way out. After a century of causing untold harm to thousands of women (including Marilyn Monroe) it deserves to fade into obscurity--along with EST and Primal Scream and all the other psych fads. Given the broad array of mental health practitioners nowadays, there is certainly more of a choice as to what kind of therapy a person can seek. Unfortunately, the idea that it's "all in your head" is one that persists, and desperate, despairing people who seek help are still regularly mistreated, ignored and dismissed by those who should know better.
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