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Freud liked to diagnose his patients with whichever ‘ailment’ was currently preoccupying him.
So, when a young woman, Emma Eckstein, came to see him with an aching leg and bad period pains, he forced her story into line with his current theory that ‘a misconstrued erotic incident, having befallen a virgin prior to the onset of sexual awareness, gets suppressed and thereby becomes a cause of hysteria, but only when a second such incident reawakens that memory and renders it horrifying’.
He was in love with his mother, admitting later to his friend, Wilhelm Fliess: ‘I have found, in my own case, the phenomenon of being in love with my mother and jealous of my father, and I now consider it a universal event in early childhood.’His friend’s (well, ex-friend’s) eventual damning verdict on Freud was that ‘the reader of thoughts merely reads his own thoughts into other people’.
An early adopter and promoter of cocaine as a medical drug, Freud was a lifelong cocaine addict himself, and this, Crews thinks, must have marred his ability to think straight.
Anyone who enjoys reading the systematic dismantling of a reputation will relish this riveting exposé.He cut her off from her own family and friends and made her renounce her Orthodox Jewish faith.‘If I have become unbearable recently,’ he wrote to her threateningly, ‘just ask yourself what made me so.’After giving birth to six children, Martha lost her figure and Sigmund saw her as a used-up woman who belonged in the nursery.Their sex life ceased, and Freud had a clandestine affair with her sister, Minna, who came to live with them when she was widowed.Over 650 pages, he builds up a portrait of Freud as the most vile, medically useless, misogynistic, snobbish, petulant, jealous, crazy, sex-obsessed creep you could ever hope not to look up at from a couch — and a man whose ‘treatment’ you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy.‘Lock up your daughters!’ I wanted to scream, when yet another innocent young Viennese woman with a cough or an aching leg got sent to Freud for treatment at today’s equivalent of £230 an hour, and came out a few months later totally traumatised and much more ill than she had been when she started.
‘What part of his body was it that you felt that night?