Arts and Culture | Religion & Jewish Life

Freud’s a cultural rage, but Judaism views are under attack

NEW YORK (N.Y. Jewish Week) — If you were to take a cultural tour of New York today, you’d think Sigmund Freud were as relevant to society now as Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs. Everywhere you’d turn, from Broadway to the movies, you’d find the father of psychoanalysis holding a prominent place.

He’s the main focus of David Cronenberg’s film “A Dangerous Method.” The Off-Broadway play “Freud’s Last Session” is having a successful run. And his name pops up throughout the one-acts plays by Woody Allen and Ethan Coen in the Broadway show “Relatively Speaking.”

But just beneath the cultural flotsam, you’d find Freud’s reputation seriously embattled. In psychiatry, where he once mattered most, his theories have never been more in question. Among historians of medicine, his significance has taken a serious beating. And even among Jewish scholars, questions about his views on Judaism remain as fresh as ever.

“Freud has virtually vanished from science and from psychology,” said Edward Shorter, a professor of medicine and psychiatry at the University of Toronto.

“It’s not that Freud’s ideas have been improved upon either,” he added. “They’ve been entirely thrown out.”