by E. Fuller Torrey, M.D.
HarperCollins, 1992, 362pp.
In 1880 there were 3,000 Jews in the United States. By 1918 there were 1½ million Jews in New York alone. Most Americans were alarmed by this transformation of their society, and in I908 the U.S. Congress set up an Immigration Commission to “ascertain whether the immigrants were physically debasing the population”. War interrupted the movement to keep America Anglo-Saxon, but by 1921 Congress had passed an Immigration Act that established quotas based on country of origin.
In addition to wishing to exclude undesirable migrants, some Americans wanted to improve their native population by means of negative eugenics. In the words of one of their leading lights, sterilization should “be applied to an ever widening circle of social discards, beginning always with the criminal, the diseased, and the insane … and perhaps ultimately to worthless race types”.
Four months after the passage of the 1921 Immigration Act the Second International Congress of Eugenics was held at the American Museum of Natural History. Museum president Henry Osborn particularly stressed the dangers represented by “certain races from central Europe which have been coming to America in enormous numbers”.
This was the climate in which Franz Boas appointed himself as the leading enemy of immigration restriction, eugenics, and the very concept of race. Boas had fled Germany because of anti-semitism, and settled in New York with his uncle, Abraham Jacobi. Unwanted in his homeland, he soon learned that patrician American Ivy Leaguers shared the views of the founder of the eugenics movement, Sir Francis Galton, that Jews are “specialized for a parasitical existence upon other nations”. Boas effectively declared war on America. His weapon was to be the psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud. His foot-soldiers were whatever disgruntled, dissatisﬁed, envious misﬁts he could recruit.
Inevitably, this legion of the unwanted would contain a large percentage of Jews. Psychoanalysis was a “mostly Jewish” profession. Furthermore, from the beginning, dissatisfied Jews had seen the political implications of Freudianism. (Its stress on nurture rather than nature would act like snake venom on any movement to preserve America for those who had created it.) One of the ﬁrst acolytes to this cause was Emma Goldman, who visited Freud in I895. (Goldman, a prostitute and communist, was later deported to the Soviet Union.) Other early Jewish apostles of Freud in New York included Adolf Meyer, Abraham Brill, and the socialist Walter Lippmann, who introduced Freudianism to the inﬂuential salon run by Mabel Dodge.
Dodge herself was an interesting character. A wealthy woman, she patronised all sorts of misﬁts, much as Leonard Bernstein later did with the Black Panthers. Like many women who were to become involved in Boas’ war against America, she was a bisexual – and obsessed with women’s breasts. Through Dodge, the anti-American cause recruited people like novelist Theodore Dreiser, writer Alfred Kuttner, and Max Eastman, editor of the Marxist magazine Masses. Their mission was to destroy Anglo-America. Although Freudianism was their preferred weapon, any means would do. Abraham Brill, for instance, welcomed some new dances of the time as antidotes to what he called “Anglo-Saxon hypocrisy”.
Boas was the undisputed leader of the rat pack. As early as 1908 he had produced a study claiming that Jews born in America looked more like Anglo-Saxons than Jews born in Europe. His conclusions were based on a methodology that was ﬂawed from the start because it was dishonest. Professional colleagues at the time were aware of Boas’ lack of scientiﬁc integrity, and in short order he was sacked from the American Museum of Natural History, the American Anthropological Association, and the National Research Council. He was a charlatan whose star was fading until he was rescued by two great propagandists: Ruth Benedict and Margaret Mead.
Ruth Benedict joined Boas in 1921, aged 34 and already prematurely grey. This stammering, half-deaf woman was a lesbian trapped in a loveless marriage of convenience. (She had public affairs with Margaret Mead, Natalie Raymond and Ruth Valentine.) A cultural misﬁt who “held her culture to blame”, she was putty in Boas’ hands, quickly becoming a Freudian, a career “anti-racist”, and a communist.
In 1934 she produced her masterpiece, Patterns of Culture, a political treatise claiming to be an anthropological study of three primitive peoples; the Zuni, the Kwakiutl, and the Dobuans. She couldn‘t speak a word of the Zuni language, and didn’t even pretend to investigate the others. Her “research” on the Kwakiutl was just a re-hash of writings by Boas, and that on the Dobuans was based on a single book by one of Mead’s lovers who claimed to have acquired the Dobuan language in two days.
Mead was another misﬁt who blamed her culture for making her feel like a deviant. As well as communism, she also believed in “aural communication with plants, telepathy, ESP, clairvoyance and horoscopes”. Thrice married, she continued to have sex with Ruth Benedict until the latter’s death in 1948.
In 1925 Mead was sent by Boas to Samoa. With just 42 hours of linguistic training, she returned nine months later with her own political tract, Coming of Age in Samoa, which was just what Boas had ordered. That it was fantasy was irrelevant. There would soon be an army of malcontents arriving to swell the ranks of those whose aim was to subvert traditional America, and who believed that if a lie was repeated often enough it would be believed by the ignorant.
In 1934 Germany banned “non-Aryan physicians and physicians with non-Aryan wives” from the state-ﬁnanced health system. Jewish doctors ﬂocked to America, so that “when the war ended the US had more psychoanalysts than the rest of the world combined”. Many of these immigrants, who immediately seized control of the American training institutes, were Marxists, continuing the tradition of Alfred Adler’s 1909 paper, The Psychology of Marxism. The best-known was probably Wilhelm Reich, a communist. Otto Fenichel (another communist) and Ernst Simmel (a socialist) founded the L. A. Institute for Psychoanalysis. Karen Homey and Erich Fromm were “nee-Freudians” who founded what was to become the American Academy of Psychoanalysis.
Of -course, it wasn’t only the unwanted from other countries that were now waging psy-war on America. Home-grown malcontents were quick to seize the opportunity that this fusion of Boasite anthropology, Freudian psychology and Marxism offered. The leading literary critics of the time joined in the fray, particularly Edmund Wilson, a communist Freudian who had had “a terrifying nervous breakdown”, and Lionel Trilling, a Trotskyist devoted to Freud
These people were clear-eyed about their aims. At the high point of the war against Europe, Margaret Mead wrote (in Keep Your Powder Dry), “We must see this war as a prelude to a greater job – the restructuring of the culture of the world”. She neglected to say that in her new world order there would be no room for normal people, especially normal Anglo-Saxons. She had no need to. It was obvious.
Henry and Clare Booth Luce ran the publishing empire that produced both Time and Life magazines. Clare required psychoanalysis as early as 1929, while Henry had employed Freud’s nephew, Edward L. Bernays, as a public relations agent. In the triumphalist mood of 1945 the Luces put their publications behind the cause. The ensuing torrent of articles advocating psychoanalysis generated interest in popular magazines, The New York Times Magazine, for example, “was consistently directing reverential awe toward Freud”.
Films, plays and novels adulating Freud were churned out on a cloacal scale from 1945, the year in which Spellbound appeared. This ﬁlm is an interesting study in itself. It was produced by left-winger David O Selznick from an idea by his own psychoanalyst May E Romm, and was scripted by Ben Hecht. The concept of Spellbound is as tendentious and pretentious as its prologue, which begins:
Our story deals with psychoanalysis, the method by which modern science treats the emotional problems of the sane. The analyst seeks only to induce the patient to talk about his hidden problems, to open the locked doors of his mind …
Spellbound would have disappeared from the public memory long since if it hadn’t starred Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck, and if it hadn’t been directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Or, perhaps, if a new wave of hate-filled propagandists hadn’t crested in the 1960s.
1946 had seen the publication of Benjamin Spock’s Baby and Child Care, which sold more than 40 million copies and admitted Freudianism into American nurseries, thus infecting an entire generation. It goes without saying that Spock was as much a charlatan as his predecessors. In 1959 he began a well-funded study of child-rearing practices. The results “provided no support whatever for Freud’s theory”. But the Tribe of Spock’s hatred of America was more important than truth, so Spock continued to preach Freudianism. Other writers in the same vein were Edith Buxbaum (Your Child Makes Sense) and Selma Fraiberg (The Magic Years).
In the l960s Freudian ideas became the norm. Herbert Marcuse, who fled to America in 1933, introduced Freudian theories to the New Left in his attempt “to fuse the theories of Marx and Freud”. Paul Goodman, a “militantly bisexual” anarchist, had co-authored Gestalt Therapy with Fritz Perls and Ralph F Hefferline in 1951. Growing Up Absurd, which became a 60s campus classics, would never have seen the light of day if the indefatigable Norman Podhoretz hadn’t serialised it in Commentary. Goodman explained his own grievance against society: “My homosexual acts have made me a nigger … debased when any out-going impulse is not taken for granted as a right”. (His main “out-going impulse” was a craving for casual homosexual encounters.)
As the above summary suggests, E. Fuller Torrey, whose Freudian Fraud details this dispiriting chain of habitual liars, brazen frauds, misﬁts and perverts, bringing us right up to the present. As Harold Bloom says, Freud’s ideas “have begun to merge with our culture, and indeed now form the only Western mythology that contemporary intellectuals have in common”.
Franz Boas was the spider at the centre of this web of hatred. He dedicated his whole life — and that of his apostles — to destroying traditional America by undermining the very idea of race. He did so deliberately, maliciously, and for the sole purpose of destroying the people who had rejected him. (In case anyone hopes that Boas’ denial of race was just naive, we have his own admission that race is a reality. His Race, language and culture specifically warns against lumping together Nordics and Alpines in statistical analysis.) Throughout his life, though, Boas claimed to doubt the existence of genes, evolution and natural selection.
Boas’ assault on Anglo-America was spun from the venom eructed by Sigmund Freud. We now know that Freud was little short of crazy. He thought he was an incarnation of Moses, he believed in soothsayers, numerology, and telepathy, and he was high on cocaine when he formulated his theories. Freud was also steeped, not in the principles of Western science, but in Judaism. Dennis Klein’s The Jewish Origins of the Psychoanalytic Movement (University of Chicago Press, 1981) has explored how Freud was influenced by Talmudic traditions, while David Bakan, in Sigmund Freud and the Jewish Mystical Traditions, (Princeton, D. van Nostrand, 1958) explained how many of Freud’s ideas were “startlingly close” to the Judaism of the Cabala.
It is not surprising that Freud’s theories cannot bear close scrutiny by real scientists. In recent years, scholars have revealed that Freud’s clinical claims are largely falsehoods, that he continued to dissemble to cover up his early lies, that he imposed preconceived notions on his patients, that he falsely claimed to have cured people, and that his “case histories” contain fabrications. Worse, Freud knew what he was doing. Writing to Jung in 1906, he admitted that for tactical reasons he was suppressing the truth about the limitations of his method.
In the end it didn’t matter. Burning with hatred of all things Anglo-Saxon, Boas and his tribe of the unwanted didn’t care that Freud was a Fraud. Frauds themselves, they made up their own “research”, as genuine scholars like Derek Freeman have made clear. Freud was just a weapon. Weapons are amoral: they either work or they don’t. The success of Freudian ideas in America can be measured precisely by the fall from grace and power of its Anglo-Saxon founders.
There is room for irony in tragedy, and it was provided again by Boas. On 29 December 1942, toasting another refugee from anti-semitism, he said “I have a new theory about race …” then fell backward, dead. Although Fuller Torrey draws no overt implications from this anecdote, it is impossible not to hear the laughter behind his words.
This book review was first published in Renewal, Volume 4 Number 1, June 1997