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Distributed for Reaktion Books

Sigmund Freud

Drawing on the latest research, an engaging and nuanced biography of Freud that argues for his continuing relevance.
However much his work has been reviled or contested, Sigmund Freud remains one of the most significant thinkers of the last one hundred and fifty years. He founded psychoanalysis, and his vision of human behavior and the unconscious mind provided a compelling paradigm for the understanding of society for much of the twentieth century.
In this gripping new account, Matt ffytche draws on the latest research into Freud’s impact and historical context, making the case for his continuing relevance in analyzing the vagaries, resistances, and desires of the human mind. Engaging and accessible, Sigmund Freud appeals to both students and the general reader, as well as anyone fascinated with mental health, dreams, and the hidden depths of human experience.

224 pages | 44 halftones | 5 x 7 3/4

Critical Lives

Biography and Letters


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"What was it about Freud’s work, we need to ask, that called for his life? Of the three forays into Freud’s life under consideration here, it is striking that only the concise primer, ffytche’s excellent contribution to Reaktion’s Critical Lives series, explicitly recognizes and does justice to this question. . . . ffytche sets Freud’s life in the context of the liberalization of the Habsburg empire and the consequent ferment of the diametric forces of Enlightenment progressivism and antisemitism, twin poles in the formation of Freud’s Jewish identity. . . . ffytche’s supple book, concise yet capacious, attests to the complexity of the task of reading the life in the light of the work."

Times Literary Supplement

"[Ffytche] explores the development of psychoanalysis and its profound effect on 20th-century thought through an accessible, sympathetic account of the life and legacy of Sigmund Freud. By situating his intellectual biography in its sociohistorical context, the author attends to the significant roles that family, culture, and the dual turmoil of war and anti-Semitism played in Freud's life and thinking. . . . Ffytche's Freud is a complex figure, often defensive but also open to revision and change. The author makes a compelling case for Freud’s continuing relevance for students of psychology, psychiatry, morality, myth, religion, and culture."


"This stylishly succinct biography leads readers through signal episodes in Freud’s life, with rich insight into crucial historical contexts: the vagaries of antisemitism, the sharpening of gender conflicts, the disillusionments wrought by world war. The book ingeniously embeds explications of Freud’s most resonant concepts, not just the unconscious, the ego, and the vicissitudes of Oedipus, but also such enduringly pertinent phenomena as ambivalence, deferred effects, defense mechanisms, intimate rivalries, magical thinking, and repetition compulsion. A compelling, highly original argument about why Freud can and must matter to us now, in our so profoundly troubled present, ffytche’s Sigmund Freud is a marvelous achievement."

Dagmar Herzog, author of "Cold War Freud: Psychoanalysis in an Age of Catastrophes"

"Vivid, engrossing, and historically accurate, this is now the book of choice for everyone wishing to acquire a broad understanding of Freud’s life, his works, and the sociocultural context in which he set out as a researcher in neurology and rose to fame as the conquistador of the deepest recesses of the human mind."

Dany Nobus, professor of psychoanalytic psychology, Brunel University London

“I am an admirer of fyttche’s work—he is an excellent historian who has contributed a great deal to the understanding of the origins and development of psychoanalysis. This book is characteristically accurate and reliable and so will be useful for readers wanting to get a broad understanding of Freud’s ideas and some sense of what they might continue to offer to contemporary thought.”

Stephen Frosh, professor of psychology, Birkbeck, University of London

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