Available online from good bookstores


Rediscovering the unconscious

The legacy of Freud
Freud, Satan and the serpent


Freud's false memories

Lévi-Strauss's theology

Related essays

The bewildered visionary

Flirting with Freud

Lacan goes to the opera

The cult of Lacan

History and hatred

Taming the beast

Letting the Cartesian cat out

Freud and the Judaeo-Christian tradition: a TLS exchange between Frederick Crews and Richard Webster


External links


Online version of Why Freud Was Wrong (search whole book and read first page of every chapter free)

'Burying Freud': a human-nature.com controversy resulting from Raymond Tallis's review in the Lancet
'How fabrications differ from a lie'
by Mikkel Borch- Jacobsen


J. P. Roos comments on Borch-Jacobsen: 'When does this . . . "in society there are no facts" fashion stop? Get real, Mikkel!'

'Little brother, little sister': review of Juliet Mitchell on hysteria (Mad men and medusas) by  Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen


Why Freud Was Wrong
Sin, Science and Psychoanalysis


HarperCollins / Basic Books (US), Hardcover, 1995, pp. 692 Revised paperback edition with new preface, 1996
New large format Orwell Press paperback, April 2005

THIS STUDY OF SIGMUND FREUD'S life and work sets out to provide an answer to the controversies which have raged for a century around one of the most influential of all modern thinkers. Tracing Freud’s essentially religious personality to his childhood, it shows how the founder of psychoanalysis allowed his messianic dreams to shape the ‘science’ he created and how, in the diagnostic darkness which prevailed at the beginning of the twentieth century, he led his followers ever deeper into a labyrinth of medical error. The book is, at one and the same time, both a critique of Freud and an essay in cultural analysis. The nature of psychoanalytic doctrines and their rapid adoption by Western thinkers illustrate the main thesis: that our intellectual tradition remains dominated by rationalist theories of human nature and that these theories are in their turn based on forms of mind-body or ‘angel-beast’ dualism which are rooted in Judaeo-Christian religious teachings.

‘Richard Webster’s new book is so important, so original and so controversial that all those who are interested in Freud will have to read it. They will enjoy doing so . . . It is impossible to do justice to this brilliant book in a short review. It is one of the best books written on Freud and twentieth-century ideas of human nature.’
ANTHONY STORR , The Financial Times
‘Freud, as revealed in Why Freud Was Wrong, is no independent and fearless thinker, but a man who repeatedly fell under the spell of charismatic healers, and who behaved like the messianic founder of a great faith rather than the discoverer of a scientific truth . . . Webster’s systematic analysis of Freud is of a man driven by ambition… Precisely because he is at pains to give Freud the benefit of the doubt at virtually every turn, he is arguably the most devastating critic of them all.’
ANTHONY CLARE, The Sunday Times

‘Undoubtedly the most stimulating and significant book I have read this year: a study of the patriarchalism which has shaped Judaeo-Christian culture written with clarity and authority.’
PENELOPE MORTIMER, Books of the Year, Daily Telegraph

‘. . . exceptionally searching, lucid and well-argued. It is impossible to read this challenging, mind-stretching book without one’s respect for Freud being shaken and diminished.’
DAVID LODGE, Books of the Year, The Sunday Telegraph

‘Brave and stimulating.’
RICHARD HOGGART, Books of the Year, The Guardian

‘The best new book I’ve read this year was Why Freud Was Wrong, by Richard Webster, a calm, lucid and devastating account of a very flawed scientist.’
SEBASTIAN FAULKS, Books of the Year,  The Daily Mail

Why Freud Was Wrong is the most exciting book I’ve read in years. It’s almost magical how the clarity of Richard Webster’s prose makes his profound thinking accessible to the ordinary reader.'


‘Masterly . . . covers a lot of intellectual ground with great clarity and verve.’
JEROME BURNE, The Independent
Why Freud Was Wrong is a delight to read: it is informative and humane but also powerful, pugnacious and controversial. You will not quite be the same when you put it down as when you started.’
ANDREW SIMS (formerly President, Royal College of Psychiatrists), The Tablet
‘Intensely interesting… The main thesis is of such importance that one hopes it will not be missed.’
NICHOLAS MOSLEY, The Sunday Telegraph
‘A profound study of the man and his work, Why Freud Was Wrong is the finest treatment of its subject I know, in both content and style.’
JAMES LIEBERMAN, Journal of the History of Medicine
‘The greatness of Webster’s book lies not only in its command of the primary and secondary literature, nor only in its wonderfully lucid and witty prose, but in the penetration of his understanding of the man and his influence. Webster is also a brilliant story-teller . . . Why Freud Was Wrong – at once a major intellectual biography and a signal contribution to the intellectual history of our times ­– is liberating. Towards the end of the twentieth century, Webster has lifted the incubus Freud placed at the beginning of the century upon the minds of all those who think about human nature.’

Sunday Times cartoon, 1995 - Click picture to enlarge  

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