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Critical Appreciation of Wollheim, R., and

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Critical Appreciation of Wollheim, R., and Kermode, F. (editor). (1971) Freud Richard Wollheim author of 'Freud' was one of the most distinguished and productive philosophers of his generation. He made a significant contribution to the post war flourishing of British philosophy and as his career continued his work grew steadily more individual, rich and expressive (The Times 2003). For Wollheim psychoanalysis was crucial to his personal outlook and played a fundamental role in defining his outlook on art. This was reflected in his standing as an honorary member of the San Francisco Psychoanalytical Institute and honorary affiliate of the British Psychoanalytical Society. In addition to this in 1991 Wollheim was awarded for his distinguished services to psychoanalysis by the International Society for Psychoanalysis. It is these personal and political affiliations which shaped the highly uncritical nature of the text. 'Freud' published in 1971 was written during an era when psychoanalysis became an influential method for understanding modern literature and culture. Psychoanalytical theory had been particularly effective in the area of literary and film criticism, its reading techniques widely disseminated, even when they were not always labelled psychoanalytic. Richard Wollheim points out that psychologist Sigmund Freud's writings on art usually focussed on the psychology of critics, rather than on analyses of particular paintings or stories (Thurschwell 2000). However, Wollheim adopting an uncritical stance failed to acknowledge the strong reactions psychoanalysis had provoked particularly within the feminist movement during the nineteen seventies. ...read more.


This is clearly demonstrated in the chapter 'dreams, errors and symptoms' where Wollheim addresses objections which may occur with respect to Freud's extended view of the symptom. Wollheim uses Freud's own work to explain his 'three lines of defence.' It is clear the Wollheim does not want himself, to criticise Freud yet wants to provide an analysis of Freud's work so he brings in criticism and concerns from the standpoint of possible critiques of Freud. This successfully integrated technique prevents Wollehims' work from being merely descriptive. As the exposition progresses particular weight is given to theory rather than encompassing a balance between, theory, methods and data. It is possible to explain this in terms of the nature of the text i.e. it is an explanation of Freud's work and how it developed. This theory is however, supported by the findings of Freud's research. Yet, in drawing upon this evidence Wollehim fails to bring to the reader's attention that Freud's choice of research participants was limited. Freud chose his participants from middle class, Viennese women who had been diagnosed as neurotic and he tended to generalise his findings to be applicable to the general population. Furthermore, his sole use of case studies does not allow for generalisation to be made. They only provide a deep insight into the person under study. However, as with much of the literature 'Freud' is shaped and interpreted in a way which reflects Wollheim's political affiliations. Thus, to pinpoint limitations in Freud's work would have proved highly unfavourable amongst his peers with the societies which he held great prestige and would possibly jeopardise his standing within them. ...read more.


Whereby, religion is viewed as being a form of self-delusion that obscures reality and offers temporary comfort from oppression within capitalism. Furthermore, traditional religious thought was simply a distortion of real class relations dividing people (Lawson, Jones and Moore 2000). However, regardless of these similarities it has been argued that the psychoanalytic approach has had limited influence and few find it to be a central concern (Dicens 1999). In conclusion, it is undeniable that Wollheim has produced a text which provides a valuable contribution to the existing knowledge surrounding Sigmund Freud. Its content would prove useful and applicable to the sociological, anthropological and biological fields as well as the discipline of psychology. The far reaching influence among academic fields enables the book to obtain the status of being a key text. Wollheim, although personally and professionally influenced by the psychoanalytic perspective produces an analytic text through the intelligent and thoughtful writing style. However, when critically yet, constructively scrutinizing a text it is necessary to keep in mind that one book regardless of how useful can not provide a wholly neutral account. So, as with other literature Wollheim's text will invoke criticism and counter arguments which need to be sought after in order to gain a more balanced view. It can be said that indicative of a successful text is whereby, the author fulfils their objective. In this instance Wollheim, has satisfied the aim set out in the preface. The text does indeed follow a chronological order and the inclusion of primary sources of research allowed Wollheim to accomplish the aim to write 'what Freud said. ?? ?? ?? ?? Registration Number: 0003 1522 5 01P 1 ...read more.

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