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New Left Review 110, March-April 2018


Philip Derbyshire

VICISSITUDES OF PSYCHOANALYSIS

The author of this by turns absorbing and tantalizing set of essays confesses that she came to write her book as a ‘complete outsider to psychoanalysis’. [1] Dagmar Herzog, Cold War Freud: Psychoanalysis in an Age of Catastrophes, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge 2017, £24.99, hardback 311 pp, 978 1 107 07239 8 Her approach is more that of a historian of ideas who sees psychoanalysis as ‘an integral part of twentieth-century social and intellectual history’. Integral and also increasingly complex, it should be said, as the professional implantation of the discipline—something distinct from its intellectual currency—expanded and diversified internationally. The first five biennial congresses of the International Psychoanalytical Association, founded in 1910, were held in Europe’s Germanic zone, the 1929 Oxford meeting marking a first step outside that area and overseas. The pattern changed radically from 1949 onwards, as regular activity resumed, unevenly from country to country, after a ten-year wartime rupture. Germany disappeared from the itinerary for decades and in 1969 the first southern European venue (Rome) was chosen, followed within a decade by the first non-European locations (Jerusalem and New York). In the forty years since then, the Americas have hosted more than half of the ipa’s congresses. Dagmar Herzog comes to this field as a specialist in German history with particular commitments in the history of sexuality. Her scholarly writings include Intimacy and Exclusion (1996), a monographic study of religion and politics in pre-revolutionary Baden; the comparative synthesis Sexuality in Europe: A Twentieth-Century History (2011); and Sex in Crisis (2008), a critical intervention in the politics of Christianity in the usa today. Her eccentric position in relation to psychoanalysis as a whole allows her to be agnostic about the discipline, while still delivering approving judgements about particular figures she finds congenial, and setting them in contexts that reveal interesting connections and linkages.

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