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History vs. Sigmund Freud - Todd Dufresne

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Working in Vienna at the turn of the 20th century, he began his career as a neurologist before pioneering the discipline of psychoanalysis, and his influence towers above that of all other psychologists in the public eye. But was Sigmund Freud right about human nature? And were his methods scientific? Todd Dufresne puts this controversial figure on trial in History vs. Sigmund Freud.

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TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Todd Dufresne
  • Director Brett Underhill
  • Narrator Addison Anderson
  • Animator Brett Underhill
  • Illustrator Brett Underhill
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Associate Editorial Producer Elizabeth Cox
  • Script Editor Alex Gendler
  • Fact-checker Eden Girma
  • See more
Additional Resources for you to Explore
Sigmund Freud is considered one of the most important thinkers of the 20th century, famous not only for inventing the ‘talking cure’ called psychoanalysis, but for his impact of society more generally. Yet his therapy has been eclipsed by psychopharmacology and shorter term treatments, and his cultural influence has waned. What, if anything, is worth saving from psychoanalysis?

Interested in reading Freud's work for yourself? Checkout his published work online in the links below:
https://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/book/lookupname?key=Freud%2C%20Sigmund%2C%201856-1939

https://www.valas.fr/IMG/pdf/Freud_Complete_Works.pdf

I a lot of work has been produced to rethink psychoanalysis. Check out literature on about rethinking psychoanalysis 

Borch-Jacobsen, Mikkel (2012). “Freud’s Patients, A Serial,” Psychology Today. See https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/freuds-patients-serial

Dufresne, Todd (2004). “Psychoanalysis is Dead – So How Does That Make You Feel?” The Los Angeles Times (Feb 18). See https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2004-feb-18-oe-dufresne18-story.html
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(2017). “Reflections on Freud, The First ‘Wild Analyst’, Oxford Childhood Studies at Oxford University Press Blog (May 6). See https://blog.oup.com/2017/05/freud-first-wild-analyst/

Gopnik, Adam (1998). “Man Goes to See a Doctor,” The New Yorker (August 17). See https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1998/08/24/man-goes-to-see-a-doctor


Still Debating Freud? 

Menand, Louis (2017). “Why Freud Survives,” The New Yorker (August 21). See at https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/08/28/why-freud-survives

“How We Feel About Freud: Susie Orbach and Frederick Crews Debate His Legacy,” The Guardian (August 20, 2017). See https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/aug/20/feel-about-freud-debate-frederick-crews-susie-orbach-making-of-an-illusion


Podcast Interview on Freud:

“Dr Todd Dufresne on Freud’s Looming Shadow of Deception,” Skeptico (46 minutes on January 7, 2014). See at: https://skeptiko.com/235-todd-dufresne-freud-deception/


Key Books to Dig Into:

Borch-Jacobsen, Mikkel (1996). Remembering Anna O.: A Century of Mystification, New York: Routledge.

Crews, Frederick (1995). The Memory Wars: Freud’s Legacy in Dispute, New York: New York Review.
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(editor 1998). Unauthorized Freud: Doubters Confront a Legend, New York: Viking.

Dufresne, Todd (2003). Killing Freud: Twentieth Century Culture and the Death of Psychoanalysis, London: Continuum.
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(2007). Against Freud: Critics Talk Back, Stanford: Stanford University Press.
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(2017). The Late Sigmund Freud: Or, The Last Word on Psychoanalysis, Society, and All the Riddles of Life, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gellner, Ernest (1993). The Psychoanalytic Movement: The Cunning of Unreason, second edition, London: Fontana Press.

Grosskurth, Phyllis (1991). The Secret Ring: Freud’s Inner Circle and the Politics of Psychoanalysis, Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Rieff, Philip [and Susan Sontag] (1959). Freud: The Mind of a Moralist, London: Gollancz.

Roazen, Paul (1969). Brother Animal: The Story of Freud and Tausk, New York: Knopf.

Roustang, Francois (1992). Dire Mastery: Discipleship From Freud to Lacan, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Sulloway, Frank (1979). Freud, Biologist of the Mind, Boston, MA: Harvard University Press.

Torrey, E. Fuller (1992). Freudian Fraud: The Malignant Effect of Freud’s Theory on American Thought and Culture, New York: Harper.

Wortis, Joseph (1954). Fragments of an Analysis With Freud, New York: Simon and Schuster.


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TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Todd Dufresne
  • Director Brett Underhill
  • Narrator Addison Anderson
  • Animator Brett Underhill
  • Illustrator Brett Underhill
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Associate Editorial Producer Elizabeth Cox
  • Script Editor Alex Gendler
  • Fact-checker Eden Girma
  • See more