I recently finished reading Adam Phillips’ new book Becoming Freud. It’s ostensibly a ‘biography’ of Freud but Phillips begins by referencing Freud’s ambivalence about the whole idea of biography; he was sceptical and distrusting of the idea of biography even though he went on to become a wonderful biographer himself! Phillips weaves back and forth between Freud’s story and that of psychoanalysis and in many respects, this is a biography of Freud’s discoveries rather than a fact based description of his life.
What’s interesting also is that the book stops at Freud’s 50th birthday – after Freud had written his five major works and before the profession of psychoanalysis became organised. Phillips invites us to speculate what might have happened to that profession had Freud died at 50 (if indeed, there would have been a ‘profession’ at all).
It’s a beautifully written and artful exploration of the man and his work.