Richard's Reviews > Freud's Wizard: Ernest Jones and the Transformation of Psychoanalysis

Freud's Wizard by Brenda Maddox
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Jun 03, 12

Read in May, 2012

The story of "Freud and Jung" was well-established in the public consciousness even before the recent film A Dangerous Method. Less known, though, is the story of "Freud and Jones". As an undergraduate, I remember being intrigued by the presence of a Welshman in various group photographs of the early psychoanalysts; I was aware that Jones had rescued Freud from the Nazis in Vienna, and that he had written a biography of Freud, but very little beyond that. Maddox's highly-readable biography fills a gap in my knowledge which I was barely aware was so wide

Jones was first and foremost indeed "Freud's Wizard", but he was much more than just a sidekick. Laurence Olivier's film of Hamlet owes a debt to Jones' book Hamlet and Oedipus; Jones' three-volume biography of Freud (started at the age of seventy and concluded shortly before the end of his own life) was a publishing sensation; and as President of the British Psycho-Analytical Society and the International Psychoanalytic Association he was tireless in his efforts to establish psychoanalysis, and to rescue Jewish colleagues in 1930s Europe.

Jones never quite became Freud's heir; as Maddox notes, that position would eventually be taken by Freud's daughter Anna. Despite his respect for Freud, and, at one stage, a plan to woo Anna, Jones found himself unable to disagree with criticisms of Anna made by Melanie Klein. Psychoanalysts are not shy about pointing out each other's supposed character flaws in ways that are frank to the point of rudeness; correspondence between Freud and Jones is at times remarkably techy, and occasionally even hostile. Jones' suggestion that Anna had been "imperfectly analysed" caused Freud particular offence. Jones in his turn was outraged when a posthumous foreword by Freud appeared which named David Eder, rather than Jones, as the first to practise psychoanalysis in the English-speaking world.

Jones was raised in Wales, but his medical training was completed at University College Hospital in London. As a doctor, he found it difficult to get established, and his career nearly came to an early end when he was accused of sexual behaviour while examining children at a school. The case was "laughed out of court", according to Maddox; the testimony of lower-class children was not taken seriously. Discovering Freud, and meeting Jung in Amsterdam, radically changed his prospects.

There were several loves in his life: an early engagement was broken off, and he entered into a relationship with Loe Kann, a wealthy Dutch emigrée. Today we would describe her as Jones' "partner"; Maddox uses the contemporary terms "common law wife" and "mistress". Kann was addicted to morphine due to a kidney condition and went to Freud for analysis; the treatment was successful, but Kann then left Jones for another man (an American, also called Jones). Maddox inaccurately describes Kann's brother Jacobus as having "founded the Jewish Chronicle"; in fact, he financed the purchase of the paper in 1907.

Jones then took up with Loe's servent Lina (surname unknown), before marrying a young Welsh poet and composer named Morfydd Owen. Owen died from complications from appendicitis less than two years later; Jones then was warned off Anna Freud by Sigmund, and Hanns Sachs fixed him up with Kitty Jokl (Jokl's sister Grete Ilm, made by a typo or slip into "Gretl Ilm", is described as Sach's "mistress"). Jokl very quickly became Jones' second wife and assistant, and their children included the novelist Mervyn Jones. Another interesting family connection is that Jones' sister married the surgeon Wilfred Trotter (later honorary surgeon to the king), with whom Jones had been in practice for a while.

Maddox tells us that Jones was wary of getting too close to the Bloomsbury crowd, but he worked with James and Alix Strachey on the translation of Freud's works, and his biography of Freud was published in the UK by the Hogarth Press. Jones also treated Frieda Lawrence, wife of D.H.; Jones was "perhaps the only person in London who knew of Frieda's colourful past in Munich and her affair with Otto Gross" (Gross had also impregnated Frieda's sister Elsa von Richthofen; perhaps to avoid playing "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon", Maddox doesn't mention Elsa's affairs with Max Weber and his brother Alfred).

Maddox's account of the writing and publication of Jones' biography of Freud is unexpectedly compelling. Jones' wife's assistance was invaluable, especially as Jones could not read the gothic script of much of the correspondence. Apparently there were concerns about British libel law (even today the bane of free speech). The distinguished lawyer Peter Calvocoressi recommended that the sentence "Jung is crazy" would have to go, but that accusing Jung of anti-Semitism was merely "risky".
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