Is psychoanalysis a legitimate tool for helping us understand the past? Many traditional historians have answered with an emphatic no, greeting the introduction of Freud into historical study with responses ranging from condescending skepticism to outrage. Now Peter Gay, one of America's leading historians, builds an eloquent case for "history informed by psychoanalysis" and offers an impressive rebuttal to the charges of the profession's anti-Freudians.
In this book, Gay takes on the opposition's arguments, defending psychoanalysis as a discipline that can enhance social, economic, and literary studies. No mere polemic, Freud for Historians is a thoughtful and detailed contribution to a major intellectual debate.
"Incisive, persuasive, a delight to read....[It] should spark wide controversy for a long time to come."--Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Gay is one of those rare academics whose competence in psychoanalysis is hardly less than his expertise in historical research."--The New York Times Book Review
"An impassioned, compelling argument for the utility of the psychoanalytic perspective to inform historical studies."--Library Journal
"[An] elegant and incisive defence of psychoanalysis."--The Guardian
"Delightful....Gay deals constructively and candidly with genuine difficulties historians have found with Freud....We should all be grateful for this graceful, wise, and witty essay that makes us more sensitive to the complexities of the human experience and urges historians to join forces with psychoanalysts in an amicable search for the truth about the past."--American Historical Review