Review by Choice Review
An intriguing book in which the author tries to weave the classical meanings of myth with the analytic and psychotherapeutic uses of myth. Eisner is obviously much more conversant with myths as literature rather than with the therapeutic use of a myth (e.g., Oedipal complex). However, the author does not seem to understand psychological concepts or the use of myths by therapists. Eisner seems to assume that if the therapist is able to get the patient to talk in terms of the myth, therapeutic gain has been accomplished-simply put, this is not true. Therapists speak and write to colleagues about Oedipal and narcissistic phenomena, but it is the behavior, attitudes, and beliefs of the patient that are therapeutically important, not the naming of the phenomenon. A beautifully written book, it unfortunately adds little or no knowledge of therapy or psychoanalytic theory. It may be interesting to the literature buff, but certainly not to the mildly interested student of psychoanalysis.-R.J. Howell, Brigham Young University
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
A brilliant investigation of psychoanalytic misuse of myth. A critique of Freud's famed use of the Oedipus myth forms the opening salvo of Eisner's basic argument: that psychoanalysis has, with the best of intentions, misread mythology more often than not. Eisner's dispute is not with Freudian psychology per se; he accepts, with reservations, the content of what Freud called the Oedipus complex. Rather, his aim is to preserve the pristine value of myth, in danger of suffocation from psychoanalytic co-options. Thus he slates that Freud mistakenly grafted theories legitimately arrived at from psychoanalysis on to the Oedipus myth, and that the real meaning--for which he makes a solid case--of that myth is ""intellectual blindness,"" thought's inability to outmaneuver fate. Eisner attributes Freud's mistreatment of this and other myths to several factors: his insistence that every human creation was accessible to psychoanalysis; his willingness to extract myth from its cultural contexts; his refusal to distinguish between art and dream as material for the analyst's couch; his considering of mythical characters as real personalities. And since Freud ""imposed his version of the Oedipus myth with a heavy hand on colleagues and patients alike,"" inevitably the psychoanalysts after Freud repeated, more or less, his errors. After laying the cornerstone of his thesis by examining Freud and Oedipus, Eisner examines in turn the major myths borrowed by psychoanalysis--Electra, the daimon, Eros, archetypes, Dionysus, Apollo, the hero, Psyche, Narcissus--and faults, at least in part, every major psychoanalyst from Jung to Reik, pausing to criticize as well the work of Freudian-influenced, non-psychoanalytic thinkers such as Robert Graves and Claude LÉvi-Strauss. Scholarly and not really oriented for the general reader, although Eisner's elegant style can be enjoyed by all; but those with a passion for psychoanalysis or myth will find much to chew on here. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.