The Freud Encyclopedia: Theory, Therapy, and Culture

By Scarth, Linda Laos | Reference & User Services Quarterly, Winter 2002 | Go to article overview
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The Freud Encyclopedia: Theory, Therapy, and Culture


Scarth, Linda Laos, Reference & User Services Quarterly


Ed. by Edward Erwin. New York: Roufledge, 2002. 641p. alkaline $165 (ISBN 0-415-93677-2).

This work is a unique effort to produce a single volume of information about Sigmund Freud's theories, vocabulary, students and followers, critics, and ultimately his influence on modern beliefs about human nature and behavior. The Encyclopedia of Psychiatry, Psychology and Psychoanalysis (Henry Holt, 1995) includes brief entries on many of the topics covered in this volume, and many more books have been written about Freud's contributions, but this appears to be the first single volume to focus on the ideas of Freud in encyclopedic fashion. An extensive list of contributors consists of scholars willing to be included while controversy about Freud's beliefs and work continues. As with any such effort there will be criticism of what and who is included and what has been left out, depending on the user's own understanding of various Freudian ideas and concepts.

The entries are stand-alone discussions of theories, ideas, people, and historical events. If one is seeking a single writer's integrated interpretations of Freud and his place in the history of Western thought, there are other books. If one needs definitions, origins, and effects of Freud's ideas written by several hundred scholars from throughout the world, this is a useful starting point. Each of the signed articles includes a list (of varying length) of references, frequently to Freud's relevant works but also to the books and articles of those who studied the ideas in question. Probably because the content is about Freud's ideas and theories in the contexts in which they were developed, there is less discussion of alternate theories or the refutation of Freud's beliefs than his critics may like, though there is some.

In spite of newer theories and the questioning of many of Freud's ideas, his impact on modern world culture is far flung and pervasive.

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