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Taking his title from a saying of the French philosopher Bernard de Chartres that "even dwarfs on the shoulders of giants can see farther than them," the author offers a brilliant new reading of the history of psychoanalysis. Roberto Speziale-Bagliacca exploits Sigmund Freud's fundamental stature, but rejects the common belief that "orthodox" psychoanalysis begins and ends with its founder. The author attempts to "see farther" than those who deny the advances and radical epistemological ruptures that have enriched and modified psychoanalysis after Freud. He also rejects the presumptions of those who condemn Freud for having "missed" much that only today is held to be true in psychoanalytic theory.In the author's view the relatively slow development of new ideas in psychoanalysis is traceable to what he terms "closure"-the narrow authoritarianism with which Freud's and his first followers protected the validity and basic outline of his method. Aware that a new approach to the understanding of the Freudian revolution means challenging this authoritarianism, Speziale-Bagliacca analyzes three chapters of the history of psychoanalysis to test its resilience: the Eissler-Roazen controversy over the suicide of Freud's pupil Victor Tausk, the case of the Wolf-Man analyzed by Freud, and the personality of Jacques Lacan and its influence on his writing and teaching method. In each instance, the author demonstrates how psychoanalytic knowledge runs the risk of becoming a closed system, a sort of secret society.To Speziale-Bagliacca, Freud is not infallible, but his "dethroning" must be conducted with courage, honesty, and an awareness of the inevitable anxiety that such an operation imposes. On Freud's Shoulders is an authoritative work on the complex ways in which psychoanalysis can look at its history and improve its therapeutic approach.
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