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Freud: A Life for Our Time

4.1  ·  Rating details ·  983 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
Norton celebrates the 150th anniversary of Freud’s birth by reissuing Peter Gay’s best-selling biography, featuring a new introduction.
ebook, 864 pages
Published September 17th 1998 by W. W. Norton Company (first published 1987)
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Shane Avery
Jul 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Brilliant biography of Freud (probably the best since Ernest Jones’s three v. effort). Heavy emphasis on ideas, especially within the nineteenth century context (both bourgeois Vienna & 19th c. scientific -- e.g., Darwin & physiological school). Treats the psychoanalytic movement, in terms of its theory, technique, and, of course, its politics. Freud’s writings can be quite difficult and theory-laden. Gay skilfully navigates through Freud’s vast literary catalogue, providing both the per ...more
Jul 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is good both as a biography and a presentation of Freud's ideas - in fact, Gay seems much more interested in Freud's thinking than he does in Freud's life. Though with Freud, that might be the only way to go, beyond his developing his theories and dealing with the internal politics of the psychoanalytic movement, Freud's life comes across as sort of humdrum. But the book does do a good job of following Freud's development, and it makes for a very interesting read.

The author is definite

... la salud de Freud hacía frente a la tensión con valentía; se veía sin embargo condenado a la pasividad, que él detestaba. Para pasar el tiempo, mientras aguardaba que los nuevos dueños del poder aprendieran su oficio y pusieran fin a sus tropelías, clasificó y ordenó sus libros, sus antigüedades, sus papeles. Se desembarazó de títulos que no le interesaban, e intentó tirar cartas y documentos, aunque Marie Bonaparte y Anna Freud lograron rescatar algunas para la posteridad, recogiéndo
Aug 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who want to know more about Freud, the man.
Shelves: biography
Disagree with two of the reviewers below: Gay is not unbearly biased in favor of Freud, book is not too much for casual dabblers in the subject.

First, one could hardly expect a six hundred page biography of Freud to be authored by someone who hates the man. Important to be realistic about who writes books in the first place.

Second, Freud was a prolific writer, and the book doesn't shy away from in depth analysis, so really it's like two three hundred page books. Now, if that's too much Freud f
Alex Kurtagic
Dec 19, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
While Ernest Jones' three-volume hagiography was sycophantic and defensive, with his own 1988 effort Peter Gay took derrière-licking to a whole new level—just in case you didn't think it possible after ploughing through his predecessor. One gets the image of Gay sighing with wistful admiration for the Master; his prose is infuriating, infantile, and gag-inducing. Yet the book is instructive, for, while Gay thought Freudian psychoanalysis a science, his hagiography reveals the extent to which Fre ...more
Steven Peterson
A pretty solid edited volume of the works of Freud. At the outset? A brief biography of Freud. The selection of Freud's works begins with a section entitled "The Making of a Psychoanalyst." Next "Classical Theory," including essays on dreams, on the case study of "Dora," and so on. Following this, sections on ""Therappy and Technique," "Psychoanalysis in Culture," "Transitions and Revisions," and "The Last Chapter." A decent selection of his works that will provide a nice background on the work ...more
Teri Temme
May 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stupendous! A little less about psychology than I wanted. But a masterpiece nonetheless. From someone basically unfamiliar with Freud this book was as awesome introduction.
Tom Coates
Jul 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing biography of Freud. Really genuinely deep and well-written portrait of an important man's life and work.
Bárbara Bufrem
Jun 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bárbara by: Leonardo Ferrari, psicanalista, meu professor de faculdade
Esse livro me fez repensar a direção que quero dar para a minha vida e a noção de tempo.

Freud se formou tarde na faculdade, clinicava muitas horas por dia, realizava diariamente as pesquisas que o transformaram em um dos maiores gênios da humanidade, escrevia livros, artigos, arrumava tempo para se corresponder por cartas com amigos e psicanalistas de vários lugares do mundo, se reunir com eles e ainda conseguia ser um ótimo pai e ter uma família equilibrada. Além de tudo, Freud trabalhou mesmo
Mustafa Ahmad
Indeed, Sigmund Freud is a very controversial figure. First hearing his ideas, one would think that he is nothing but a perverted old man with a fetish for sex. I was able to somewhat see the logic in his ideas (Come on, you've gotta admit you've been a pervert in your life at one point or another, whether it was to yourself, or admitted it freely.)

Peter Gay is extraordinary.

He has written a standard one-volume text on the life of this controversial intellectual, written in such a way that it i
J. Ewbank
Apr 06, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book by Peter Gay shows a lot of research and work to present to us a picture and understanding of Freud that you can hardly find elsewhere.

Freud was a complex person and the psychology that he spawned was complex as well. Though some things that he thought and taught have been changed by future generations and students, there is a remarkabale amount of work that is still good and used today.

Freud was the one who began the process of getting us to look at ourselves and to understand ourselv
May 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good, thorough, accurate, historical reading of Freud. Gay's chronological presentation of Freud's major work is hugely useful for any romp through Freud's ouevre (who remembers where 'On Narcissism' comes in relation to the periods of Freud's most productive years? This book does). But Gay, although I've seen various reviews call him 'revisionist', seems fairly orthodox to me in his readings of Freud's life. Nothing too radically different from Jones.
Bob Griffin
Apr 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Regarding the one who founded a new religion for our time, Psychoanalysis, I learned about his tremendous industry in naming the thoughts, his and others, of his time. Not everything was original with Freud, but he put theory into words. He wrote it down for all who come after him. Freud, whether one agrees or disagrees, is the benchmark -- the reference point for any advances in psychotherapeutic discussion. I wish I had studied Freud much earlier in my career.
Jan 18, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finally finished this book in September. For any who are fans of Freud or would like an in-depth exposure to his life, this is the book. The author does a good of presenting Freud's life and seems willing to put it all out there. Though it took me a long time to read I did enjoy the book though I admit that it is not for the casual reader.
Sep 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I actually disciplined myself to read some of this book everyday. I enjoy biographies and have Einstein in my collection as well. I also gave Linda's cousin biography of his for young readers. Now he is convinced that I am smart to read about Einstein. There are people in AA and NA that think I am a scholar too. (The disguise must be working.)
Feb 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my first Freud Biography. I studied with a famous psychoanalyst who said he has a bookshelf of Freud books. Said he had 3 books on Freud's studying of eel gonads. So this perhaps is just a beginning, but it wasn't a bad place to begin despite the fact that it took me forever to read. I learned a lot I didn't know and got a general outline of his life.
Daniel Schulof
Aug 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my primary introduction to Freud's life and work. I thought the "life" aspect of the book was thorough and engaging but the "work" aspect wasn't quite deep enough for my taste. Only a small complaint though. I can't imagine that many readers would require any additional Freud reference texts. I certainly don't.
Started reading this after I went to work part-time at a psychoanalytic society. However, I'm not sure that this detailed biography was the smartest place to start. Freud lived a complicated life, so this is a good read, but I need to start out with something smaller.
Freud's father was 20 years older than his mother and Freud, as a child, thought his mother should be married to his uncle. I've only read ten pages so far but I am hoping to get through the rest soon.
Jan 14, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Although I sort of disagree with the subtitle of a "life for out time," I thought this was a thorough job of handling a bio of Freud without becoming unwieldly. Its an enjoyable read, as well was enlightening.
Jonathan Root
Nov 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent biography of Freud. Gay did a masterful job of weaving Freud's ideas, personal life, friendships (or lack thereof), and historical context into a compelling story of one of the greatest minds of the twentieth century.
Andrei Gavrila
Very difficult to read. Incredibly long. I wanted a biography but instead I got the Freud encyclopedia. It is my strong opinion that I would have got the same amount of useful information from a book 20-30% percent of the curent size
Tim Petersik
Aug 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although I'm as far from being Freudian as one can get, I do appreciate the depth and creativity of his thinking. So it's fitting that this biography does justice to the complexity of Freud's ideas. His life is an interesting story, and Gay is one helluva story teller.
A fine account of Freud's life and work, together with a keen sensitivity to time and place. And as always, well-written. Peter Gay has produced wonderful work over the past half-century, and his "Freud" stands among his best.
Mar 02, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Peter Gay definitely taps into information about Freud that makes understanding Freud's theories and concepts much easier.
Jul 29, 2011 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
1989 finalist
Steven  Godby
Dec 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
Wonderful intellectual biography.
May 14, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Finally finished the neverending story. It would have been much more palatable if the author hadn't put Freud and his psychoanalytical formulations on such a high pedestal...
Jul 14, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychotherapy
A very thorough albeit too detailed biography of Freud's life. Instead of referencing the letters, why don't you just show us what he wrote?
Adam DeVille, Ph.D.
A wide-ranging, deeply researched, fascinating biography of one of the most influential people of the 20th century.
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The son of a glassware maker, Peter Joachim Fröhlich grew up in Germany as the Nazis rose to power. Escaping in 1938 with the rest of his family on the last boat of refugees admitted to Cuba, he gained entry with them to the United States two years later, whereupon he changed his name to Gay. He graduated from the University of Denver in 1946 and earned a master's and doctorate in history from Col ...more
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