The Late Sigmund Freud: Or, The Last Word on Psychoanalysis, Society, and All the Riddles of Life

Freud is best remembered for two applied works on society, The Future of an Illusion and Civilization and its Discontents. Yet the works of the final period are routinely denigrated as merely supplemental to the earlier, more fundamental ‘discoveries’ of the unconscious and dream interpretation. In fact, the ‘cultural Freud’ is sometimes considered an embarrassment to psychoanalysis.

Dufresne argues that the late Freud, as brilliant as ever, was actually revealing the true meaning of his life’s work. And so while The Future of an Illusion, Civilization and its Discontents, and his final work Moses and Monotheism may be embarrassing to some, they validate beliefs that Freud always held – including the psychobiology that provides the missing link between the individual psychology of the early period and the psychoanalysis of culture of the final period. The result is a lively, balanced, and scholarly defense of the late Freud that doubles as a major reassessment of psychoanalysis of interest to all readers of Freud.

‘A superb book that will count among a handful of landmark works in the field of Freud Studies. Blending close readings of texts, a sustained attention to Freud’s rhetoric, and rigorous historical-cum-biographical contextualization, Dufresne provides a major reassessment of Freud’s late ‘cultural’ works.’

Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen, University of Washington

‘Dufresne serves as a deft, surefooted guide into the dazzling dark continent of drives explored by Freud’s later ‘cultural’ work. It is an intriguing journey.’

Richard Kearney, Boston College

‘In this provocative and engaging study, Dufresne demonstrates the philosophical relevance of Sigmund Freud’s late work – including The Future of an Illusion (1927), Civilization and its Discontents (1927), and the essays leading to Moses and Monotheism (1939) – as well as the strong link between Freud’s cultural critique and his psychoanalytic theory.’

Liliane Weissberg, University of Pennsylvania