Tales from the Freudian Crypt is a fundamental reassessment of the Freud legend that aims to shake the very foundations of Freud studies. Writing from the perspective of intellectual history, the author traces the impact that Freud's essay Beyond the Pleasure Principle has had, and continues to have, on twentieth-century thought. Designed as both an introduction and a corrective to the vast literature on Freud, the book explores the trail left by Freud's late theory of the death drive, paying special attention to its ramifications in the fields of biography, biology, psychotherapy, philosophy, and literary theory. The author ironically concludes that if there were such a thing as a death drive, it would look like this seemingly endless and in many ways arbitrary proliferation of the literature on Freud. After first undertaking to demystify the pretensions of this literature, from the works of Sandor Ferenczi to those of Jacques Lacan, the author proposes a theory that sheds new light on the so-called cultural works of Freud's final years. He argues that the death drive theory was an elaborate ruse that Freud adopted to insulate his findings against criticism directed from outside the field of psychoanalysis-that Freud's troubling recourse to metapsychology was closely tied to his lifelong fear of suggestion. The author delivers a carefully reasoned, sustained blow to the culture of psychoanalysis-theoretical, therapeutic, institutional-which is driven by what it desires and fears most: death. In sum, Tales from the Freudian Crypt is offered as a kind of bankbook, audit, and investment plan for future work in Freud studies.
Todd Dufresne is Associate Professor and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Lakehead University. He is the author of Tales from the Freudian Crypt: The Death Drive in Text and Context (Stanford, 2000) and Killing Freud.