A brilliantly witty book about the intertwined lives of psychoanalyst Ernest Jones, surgeon Wilfred Trotter and the guru of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud.
Welsh-born psychoanalyst Ernest Jones was Sigmund Freud's closest associate and most fervent disciple. Clever, self-confident and intensely ambitious, Jones promoted psychoanalysis as a kind of secular religion. Meanwhile, his intimate friend Wilfred Trotter – a celebrated surgeon who saved the life of George V, and who took on Freud as a patient during his London exile – refused to yield to the seductions of the new Freudianism. A quintessentially English figure, Trotter was unimpressed by slick medical careerists, distrusted grand theories and lacked pomposity and self-regard.
From the first psychoanalytic congress in Salzburg in 1908 to the illness of King George in the late 1920s and the meeting of Freud and Trotter in 1939, Seamus O'Mahony tells the story of these three figures and their intertwined lives with his customary wit and erudition. Not only the story of the development of psychoanalysis, this is a book about the sexual obsessions of intellectual and bohemian circles in London, Cambridge and Vienna, of Bloomsbury, of doctors in pursuit of wealth and fame. It covers a pivotal thirty years in European history, and reveals how and why the writings of a failed neurologist from Vienna became so influential.
'No one writes as clearly and intelligently [...] as Seamus O'Mahony' Sunday Independent.
'What makes this book a delightful, if unsettling read, is not just O'Mahony's scholarly and witty prose, but also his brutal honesty' The Times.
'A searingly honest and humane book that is challenging yet profoundly important' Guardian.
'Mahony leaves no stone unturned, sniffing out cant and hypocrisy wherever he finds it. And his views are as consistently intelligent as they are surprising' Daily Telegraph.
'Sharp and pithy observations' Irish Times