'Freud the fraud' furore sparked by new book
Published 16/04/2010 | 05:00
A row has broken out among French intellectuals after a philosopher branded Sigmund Freud a perverse, anti-Semitic fraud who failed to cure a single patient.
It is stepping on hallowed ground to criticise Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, in a country where leading analysts are still treated as stars.
But Michel Onfray accused the champion of the unconscious mind of lying about the success of his treatment and being a misogynist homophobe obsessed with sexual abuse.
He attacked the whole exercise of psychoanalysis as the last untouchable religion revered by "stars and footballers".
"Who else would still have the time to pay in cash to lie on a couch twice a week before some guy who's half-asleep?" Mr Onfray said as he launched his book 'Twilight of an Idol, the Freudian Fabrication'.
The response from French psychoanalysts was fierce.
Writing in 'Le Monde', Elisabeth Roudinesco attacked the book as "a rag stuffed full of errors and shot through with rumours".
Freud, he claims, is not the inventor of a revolutionary therapeutic science but a charlatan who "transformed his personal fantasies into universal scientific truths".
To cap it all, he accuses Freud, who lost four sisters in Nazi concentration camps, of being a "road companion" of fascism, as he wrote a dedication to Mussolini which said: "To Benito Mussolini, with respectful greetings of an old man who recognises in the leader a hero of culture".
Miss Roudinesco dismissed the claim that Freud was a fascist. "You have to put all that into context...(Freud) never made an apology for authoritarian regimes," she wrote, before accusing Mr Onfray himself of "rehabilitating pagan theses of the French extreme-Right".
Mr Onfray said: "As soon as you touch Freud, certain people will start a fight to maintain the mythologies."
Psychoanalyst and author Philippe Grimbert admitted Freud had overstated some of his achievements but he added: "It's an insult to all those who went through analysis to qualify it as an intellectual fraud... Michel Onfray is right, psychoanalysis doesn't cure people... it saves (them)!" (© The Daily Telegraph, London)