An antiseptic departure for shock jock David Cronenberg, A Dangerous Method is a psychological tug of war between the father of modern psychiatry, Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortenson), and his disciple Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) over the mind and sex of an overwrought mental patient named Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley), a mad Russian with a craving for spanking. Whacking her on her naked bottom must have worked. She ended up, years later, analyzing patients of her own. Too bad she didn’t also analyze this movie. It would have saved so much wasted time.
A grim 1912 period piece set in a mental clinic in Vienna at the dawn of 20th century enlightenment, the movie flirts with the peculiar relationship between novice Jung and mentor Freud while they both flirt with the same patient, but aside from Ms. Knightley’s lurid whupping without her panties on, nothing ever happens. The “dangerous method” in the title refers to the experiment by both analysts to radically treat the same female patient by taking her to bed. Not very scientific, but very, very talky.
Mental Health Week
In 1909, after a six-day journey from Vienna with his associates Carl Jung and Sándor Ferenczi, Sigmund Freud arrived in New York Harbor and spent a week sightseeing in the city. He had traveled to America to give a series of lectures on his “talking cure” at Clark University in Massachusetts. Before heading north, he Read More
Wilhelm Reich wrote The Function of the Orgasm in 1927, and The Sexual Revolution in 1936. He studied psychoanalysis under Sigmund Freud, caused a scandal on two continents, and composed a theory of existence based on the orgasm. Women loved him. Governments surveilled him. His books were burned in Nazi Germany, and burned in New Read More
THE CURE WITHIN: A HISTORY OF MIND-BODY MEDICINE
By Anne Harrington
W.W. Norton, 336 pages, $25.95
In the late 1980’s, two oncologists tested a chemotherapy drug called EPHO. One doctor’s patients did surprisingly well; three-quarters of them responded to treatment. But only one-quarter of the other doctor’s patients showed improvement. Why the Read More
THE DEATH OF SIGMUND FREUD: THE LEGACY OF HIS LAST DAYS
By Mark Edmundson
Bloomsbury, 276 pages, $25.95
“Vienna,” the first of the two narrative essays that make up Marc Edmundson’s meditation on the late life and thought of Sigmund Freud, is a tale worthy of a libretto. On March 11, 1938, Neville Chamberlain Read More
The form in which we most often encounter sociology is David Brooks or Malcolm Gladwell, taking us on a stroll through our works and days and discontents. Tom Wolfe is simultaneously more entertaining, because he dresses his observations in fiction, and grimmer.
But sometimes we meet a practical sociologist who is engaged in more alarming Read More
I just got the page proofs of my latest book, my eighth. Will it also be my last? Who will write the very last book in America?
Writing is an unkillable impulse. It is like second sight or a blood disease, a gift or a state beyond our control. Writing is older than writing, as Read More
The Productive Narcissist: The Promise and Peril of Visionary Leadership , by Michael Maccoby. Broadway Books, 298 pages, $26.95.
Reclaiming narcissism as a good thing might seem an odd cause célèbre , but that’s the very restoration project that psychologist and business guru Michael Maccoby has taken up in his latest book. As Mr. Read More
There was a time when it could rightly have been said of the Czech writer Franz Kafka (1883-1924) what W.H. Auden wrote in his elegy, “In Memory of Sigmund Freud”: “if often he was wrong and, at times, absurd, / to us he is no more a person / now but a whole climate of Read More
Granger goes grunge? Here’s how it works this office-party season: People are still having parties, but the way to do it is sort of quietly and abashedly, a not-a-party party, which always results in some interesting fashion choices. In other words, fancy New York companies are now having office parties that resemble office Read More