Unorthodox Freud

The View from the Couch

Beate Lohser and Peter M. Newton

August 2, 1996
ISBN 9781572301283
Price: $45.00
241 Pages
Size: 6" x 9"
bookProfessors: request an exam copy

Offering a fresh new look at how Freud practiced psychoanalysis, this book draws upon the five existing full-length accounts of Freud's analyses written by the patients themselves. Focusing upon Freud's definition of the primary task of treatment and the division of labor between himself and his patient, the authors compare the five cases as well as the cases of the Rat Man and the Wolf Man both to Freud's own papers on technique and to current ideals of mainstream analytic treatment. Their findings reveal an unexpected Freud, an active, personal, and emotionally engaged clinician quite different from the dominant image of the Freudian analyst as uninvolved, neutral interpreter of transference and resistance. Raising important questions about the nature of the primary task, the pitfalls of task displacement, and the roles of neutrality and authority, this book makes a valuable contribution to current psychoanalytic dialogue.

“Spanning the decades, this volume offers both a fascinating glimpse into Freud's consulting room and a series of intriguing and insightful perspectives on contemporary practice. The book makes clear that what has come to be called 'classical' technique bears little resemblance to what Freud actually did. In reintroducing us to the human being who sat behind the couch, the authors contribute to helping the next generation of analysts to liberate themselves from the invented orthodoxies that for many years obscured the true tenor of Freud's practice and constrained the spirit of innovation that was its essence.”

—Paul L. Wachtel, Ph.D., CUNY Distinguished Professor, City University of New York

“In Freud at Work, Lohser and Newton have given us the most complete and readable account of Freud's struggle to wisen up, if not heal, a fascinating sample of the first several generations of analytic patients. The book holds our attention like a good novel and is also a first-class short course in Freud's clinical theories as they played themselves out in the clashes of personalities that occurred in the world's most famous consulting room.”

—Charles Spezzano, Ph.D., Psychoanalyst and author of What to Do Between Birth and Death and Affects in Psychoanalysis: A Clinical Synthesis

“An impressive and illuminating addition to the burgeoning field of Freud scholarship and Freudiana. The authors examine the gulf between Freud's actual technique (and the theory of the nature of the curative process on which it is based) and the modern re-interpretations of it which have been codified as the 'basic model technique,' by exploring in detail the five extant book-length accounts of their analyses with Freud, written by Abram Kardiner, H.D., Joseph Wortis, John Dorsey, and Smiley Blanton. They demonstrate convincingly the one-sided interpretation of Freud's papers of technique, which led to the austere 'modern' model of psychoanalysis that has departed so radically from Freud's actual techniques, as displayed so revealingly by the accounts of these five analysts. Important reading for everyone interested in the historical evolution of psychoanalysis as theory and technique and theory of technique.”

—Robert S. Wallerstein, M.D., Past President, American Psychoanalytic Association; Past President, International Psychoanalytical Association

Table of Contents


1. Freud's Theory of Technique

2. Freud's Analysis of Abram Kardiner

3. Freud's Analysis of H.D.

4. Freud's Analysis of Joseph Wortis

5. Freud's Analysis of John Dorsey

6. Freud's Analysis of Smiley Blanton

7. Freud's Treatment Structure

8. From Freud's Technical Suggestions to the New Orthodoxy

9. Conclusions

About the Authors

Beate Lohser has been a member of the Core Faculty at the San Francisco School of Psychology since 1989. Born and raised in Germany, she attended the University of Heidelberg where she received degrees in English and French. She was trained in psychology at the Wright Institute in Berkeley, California, and has worked in a wide variety of settings. She practices psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapy in San Francisco and Berkeley.


Psychoanalysts and psychodynamic therapists, as well as students and trainees in the field and others interested in Freud and the history of psychoanalytic technique.

May serve as a text in courses on psychoanalytic technique, both in analytic institutes and in graduate programs in psychology.

Course Use

May serve as a text in courses on psychoanalytic technique, both in analytic institutes and in graduate programs in psychology.