The Public Interest

Freud and the culture wars

Yale Kramer

Summer 1996

ABOUT one-hundred years ago, Freud published his first major work, Studies on Hysteria, which became a milestone on the road to understanding the complexity of man’s nature. To celebrate the centenary of the birth of psychoanalysis, and to examine its impact on our culture, the Library of Congress—the largest repository of Freudiana in the world—planned a major exhibit on Freud for late 1996. But the arrangements quickly became mired in politics.  Petitions were signed, and some of Freud’s fiercest and most dedicated enemies denounced the proposed exhibit. So, a few months ago, the Library caved in and postponed the Freud exhibit to some time in the distant future. It is clear that even now, more than 56 years after his death, Freud can still evoke passionate feelings.

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