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The Last Good Freudian

Brenda Webster
The Last Good Freudian
ISBN: 978-08419-1395-0
2000/208 pages
Distributed for Holmes & Meier Publishers
Includes photographs

"Brenda Webster has written a riveting account of how she cured herself of a life-long addiction to Freudian analysis, freeing herself from tyrannous mentors. The book is a must for the many persons who have struggled—and often failed—to achieve personal autonomy. Brenda Webster tells us it is never too late to find confidence and freedom."—Carolyn Kizer, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and author of Yin

"A fresh take on the poor-little-rich-girl theme, whine-free and surprisingly frank."—Kirkus Review

"Her true voice resonates powerfully in this absorbing tale of discovery and pain."—Publishers Weekly

"Her cautionary tale is illuminating, drops some intriguing names and is bound to ruffle a few feathers."—New York Times Book Review

"Certainly the author's narrative is an interesting story. The author's education, her first boyfriend, her abortion, her writing career, the failure of her first marriage and the success of the second all make absorbing reading."—Metapsychology Online Review

"Her odyssey, from obedient analysed to a woman strong enough to leave a difficult marriage and define herself in her own terms, is fascinating reading with a rare happy ending."—Hadassah Magazine

"...a brutally honest memoir on growing up with—and ultimately free from—traditional Freudian analysis. It is a difficult thing to own up to one's shortcomings, particularly amid the heady, formative environment of modern feminism. It may have even been more difficult to escape the trap of a love-hating mother. Brenda Webster does so rather magnificently."—Confrontation


The environment of New York City in the post-World War II era was one filled with new ideas and movements. The 1950s saw waves of Freudian disciples set up practices. In The Last Good Freudian, Brenda Webster describes what it was like to grow up in an intellectual and artistic Jewish family during this time.

Her father, Wolf Schwabacher, was a prominent entertainment lawyer whose clients included the Marx Brothers, Lillian Hellman, and Erskine Caldwell; her mother, Ethel Schwabacher, was a protégé of Arshile Gorky, his first biographer, and herself a well-known abstract expressionist painter.

In her memoir, Webster vividly evokes the social milieu of her childhood—her summers at the farm that was shared with free-thinking psychoanalyst Muriel Gardiner; the progressive school on the Upper East Side where students learned biology by caring for real babies; and the atmosphere of sexual liberation in which her mother presented her with a copy of Lady Chatterly's Lover on her thirteenth birthday.

Growing up within a society which held Freudian analysis as the new diversion, Webster was given early access to the analyst's couch; the history of mental illness in her mother's family kept her there. As a result, Freudian thought became something which was impossible for Webster to avoid. What unfolds in her narrative is both a personal history of analysis and a critical examination of Freudian practices.


Brenda Webster is a freelance writer, critic, and translator and is president of PEN West. She is the author of Yeats: A Psychoanalytic Study and Blake's Prophetic Psychology, as well as the novels Sins of the Mothers and Paradise Farms.