Book review: 'Wizard' delves into No. 2 man

Author discovers Freud's 'alter ego' and empire builder

Published: Sunday, April 8 2007 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Brenda Maddox is a biographer who is interested in "the one who got away" — a subject that biographers don't ordinarily choose because he/she seems peripheral to the real story.
Maddox is expert in discovering the "number two" people who play a much more important role than seems evident.
As with Ernest Jones, who was called in an earlier biography, "Freud's Alter Ego." Freud took center stage but Maddox demonstrates that he was vital to an understanding of Freud and of the birth of psychoanalysis.
Jones was Freud's disciple, colleague, biographer and empire builder. Jones was responsible to a large degree for spreading the movement around the world. And he was an interesting man, and controversial in a number of ways.
Freud was once quoted saying, "Jones makes trouble all the time but we know his worth well enough."
According to Maddox in "Freud's Wizard," the man from Wales was widely read, he possessed genuine administrative skills, prodigious energy and an acerbic wit. Jones was very interested in sexuality and had a magnetic effect on women.
The fact that he was married to the beautiful Welsh musician Morfydd Owen for a year attests to his attractiveness, as does the fact that many of the women who took psychoanalysis with Jones actually fell in love with him.
Because Jones and Freud were personal friends for more than 30 years, they carried on a personal correspondence that was valuable to the author. While a medical student in London, Jones was thrown into a cell several times after being caught in youthful pranks involving women. Jones became a licensed physician at the age of 21.
He showed his predilection for getting into trouble after receiving a coveted hospital appointment, then blowing it by being caught absent without permission three times. He was then fired, never to work in a hospital again.
Therefore, it was fortunate that Jones and Freud met and that Jones became so important to Freud's operation. In fact, the thing that makes this book so interesting is the correspondence between Jones and Freud — a terrific primary source. Much of the evidence makes it clear that Freud was guilty of breaking the rules of confidentiality that he himself considered so vital.
More biographers should tackle number two.

E-mail: dennis@desnews.com

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