THE HISTORY of philosophy, AN Whitehead once remarked, was a series of footnotes to Plato. In much the same way, the 100-year history of psychoanalysis can be seen as a series of footnotes to Freud. Joseph Schwartz offers a brief history of psychoanalysis alongside a robust defence against its many detractors. The book is packed with fascinating insights and controversial propositions; the only adequate response from a reviewer would be to write another book.
There have been many capsule histories of psychoanalysis, but Schwartz's is fresh and captivating. He is particularly good on figures who have been neglected in conventional accounts - Bowlby, Winnicott, Fairbairn, Riviere - though there is nothing about Erik Erikson or Sabina Spielrein, and nothing significant about that truly great figure, Erich Fromm. There is little about Jung after his break with Freud in 1912, but then the depth psychology that Jung developed thereafter had little to do with psychoanalysis proper.
Schwartz's main argument - that psychoanalysis has undergone a "paradigm shift", taking it from Freud's study of instincts and drives to a modern emphasis on human relations - is overstated. Freud's emphasis on genitality implied the value of human relationships as an end. In this he was unlike Jung, who thought the end of analysis should be a quasi-solipsistic "individuation process".
The difference underlay Jung's famous distinction between introverts and extroverts. Introverts derived value from subjectivity; extroverts defined themselves in relation to objects (by which Jung often seemed to mean other people). Schwartz rightly connects this distinction with the prejudice in our culture in favour of introverted "spirituality". Psychoanalysis, by contrast, tries to understand human emotions by reference to the material world; hence the oft-made distinction between Jung's "numinous" concerns and Freud's "atheistic materialism".
Schwartz maintains that suspicion towards psychoanalysis is mainly engendered by our reverence for "objective science". "To those who regard the world of human feeling as inherently unreliable, who distrust the novel and poetry as sources of human knowledge, the claims of psychoanalysis will always be unsatisfactory."
The point is well made. How could you use the principles of physics to prove that Hamlet, Moby Dick, or The Brothers …