Introducing the Freud Wars: A Graphic Guide by Stephen Wilson, with illustrations by Oscar Zarate, is part of the Introducing… series. I’ve previously reviewed two books in the series, Introducing Evolutionary Psychology and Introducing Psychology. I was expecting this book to humorous, given the topic, the cover art, and the other books in the series that I’d read, but it… well, it just wasn’t.
I did learn a few new things; for one, I hadn’t known that Freud developed jaw cancer from all those cigars and eventually had a large part of his lower jaw removed. Overall, though, there wasn’t a lot of new information.
One thing that struck me as odd was that the author took issue with both Freud and his critics, although he was more negative towards Freud’s critics. Based on some Google searching, it appears that the author is a psychoanalytic therapist, which makes it clearer where he was coming from. In the book, the concerns he raises about Freud are less about psychoanalysis and more along the lines of: “With his familiar capacity for pushing a good idea too far, Freud comes close to obscuring his own insight in an unconvincing programme of interpretative gymnastics.”
Freud’s fixation on the Oedipus complex idea is odd, to say the least. While the author doesn’t seem to be totally on board, he’s still swimming fairly close to the ship: “There is empirical evidence which suggests that the Oedipus complex exists and is a pervasive feature of human development. [Oediupus’s mother] (and Freud) were right: men do dream and always have dreamt both of incest and patricide.”
Unlike the other books in the series that I read, in this book, the cartoons contain integral parts of the text. Reading the Kindle edition on my laptop, the text in the cartoons was fairly dense and rather small, so it was hard to read. I think it would have worked better if the integral text was put in the text, and key bits were highlighted in the cartoons.
I was expecting a light, fun book that looked at some of the weirdness that is Freud (from penis envy to the Oedipus complex to penis therapy for hysteria, there’s a lot of weird material to work with). This book was not that. I’m not actually sure who the target audience would be, because I can’t imagine that many people who are wanting to look at Freud in this way would be looking for this format of book. Maybe they’re just hoping to get by on the book cover alone.
Introducing the Freud Wars: A Graphic Guide is available on Amazon, and is free through Prime Reading (at least in Canada). Unlike Kindle Unlimited (which I’m too cheap to pay for), Prime Reading is free for anyone with a basic Prime membership. You can find it under the Kindle books section of the main menu.
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