7 OCTOBER 1972, Page 14

Stages of the transference

Charles Rycroft

Freud edited by Jonathan Miller (Weidenfeld and Nicolson £3.75) Freud once remarked, one hopes jocularly, that psychoanalysis would only have arrived when shops displayed gifts suitable for all stages of the transference. He lived, however, before the invention of the coffee-table book and could therefore not have predicted that in 1972 he would himself form the subject of a book which could well, and indeed may, have been designed to be given by patients to their psychoanalysts. Elegantly produced, just too bulky to fit into an average bookshelf, containing 101 illustrations and 145 pages of text, Freud: The Man, his world, his influence, edited by Jonathan Miller, would keep a fast-reading psychoanalyst interested, amused and irritated for the full length of a fifty-minute session and provide him with a permanent, visually pleasing but obtrusive reminder of his patient.

There is, however, something so ambiguous, or should it be ambivalent, about this volume, that I am not sure whether to recommend it as a gift for positive or negative stages of the transference. On the positive side, the photographs of Freud, his family, his teachers, the places where he lived and studied, and of his consulting room, evoke the man and his world marvellously. They successfully effect what one of the contributors, the anthropologist Octave Mannoni, would undoubtedly though curiously call the decolonisation ' of Freud, revealing him as a much more handsome, physically vigorous, humorous and attractive character than one would guess from his writings, and placing him firmly in his social setting. One photograph in particular, showing Freud and his sixteen-year-old daughter Anna, on holiday,,in the Dolomites in 1912, catches wonderfully every father's and every daughter's dream nf an ideal father-daughter relationship and should be acquired immediately by all female patients with an older, male analyst. It also, incidentally, speaks volumes about the later history of psychoanalysis.

The negative, or rather ambivalent, side of this book is contained •in its text. According to the editor's Foreword "it is one of the purposes of this volume to vindicate the disputed judgement of greatness that has been passed on Freud," but in his choice of contributors the editor has vitiated this aim by an act of self-indulgence: "In editing this volume I enjoyed the pure pleasure of issuing invitations with careless flamboyance." As a result, the book has no unity of theme or attitude, while at least half of the eleven contributors give no evidence of anything more than a superficial acquaintance with Freud's ideas and writings. And in loyalty to his declared purpose, Jonathan Miller has had to go as far in disowning one of the contributions — Henry Miller's on 'Psychoanalysis: A Clinical Perspective' — as, an editor courteously can, and has himself provided the answer to Anthony Quinton's re-statement of Karl Popper's objections to psychoanalysis's claim to be a science. Jonathan Miller's Foreword is, indeed, so perceptive that it leaves one regretting that he did not write the whole text himself.