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The Seduction Theory

In response to:

Freud's Creative Illness from the May 30, 1985 issue

To the Editors:

Charles Rycroft’s review of my edition of The Complete Letters of Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess [NYR, May 30] ends with a serious misrepresentation. He claims that in my earlier book, The Assault on Truth, I argued “that Freud never really did abandon this seduction theory of the neuroses, and betrayed psychoanalysis by pretending to have done so.” Since Rycroft had earlier reviewed my book in The New York Review of Books, it would be uncharitable to suggest that he did not read it. But how else can one explain such a major error? My thesis, based on the new documents presented in the book, is that Freud betrayed women by abandoning the seduction theory. He did not “betray psychoanalysis,” which hardly existed at the time, nor did he “pretend” to abandon the seduction theory, he did in fact do so.

Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson

Oakland, California

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