[The following reviews were published in the October 1990 issue of Universitas, the national newsletter of University Professors for Acadmeic Order.]

 

 Book Reviews

 

The Decline and Fall of the Freudian Empire

Hans J. Eysenck

Washington: Scott-Townsend Publishers, 1990

 

My Traitor’s Heart

Rian Malan

New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1990

 

            I would like to bring our readers’ attention to two excellent books by non-members [of UPAO] that I’ve read recently. 

            The first of these is Hans J. Eysenck’s The Decline and Fall of the Freudian Empire. 

            I’ve long been amazed that an age that is centered upon science as ours has been could have accepted Freud’s hocus-pocus as gospel for so many years.  True science is, above all, concerned with a relatively tight-fisted epistemology.  It wants rigor; it wants proof.  In the physical sciences this is often put in terms of “the prediction-verification process.”  Science has a strong and justifiable bias against anything that is simply asserted without palpable reality-checks. 

            Eysenck’s book is an extensive analysis of Freud’s work with precisely this in mind.  “Being entirely subjective in its method of proof,” he says, “it cannot furnish any ways of deciding between alternative theories.”  While scholarly and technical, the book is eminently readable.  Eysenck unmasks not only the methodological inanities of Freudianism and shows how empirical studies have demonstrated that it has no therapeutic benefit; he also exposes the closed mind-set that for so many decades forbade any serious discussion.  It’s a book much to be commended. 

            The second book I highly recommend is Rian Malan’s My Traitor’s Heart.  It is one of the more profound books I have ever read.  Malan explores with great subtlety and depth of understanding the vast complexities of the human spirit as they exist in South Africa and as those complexities have developed over the centuries. 

            In South Africa, nothing is even close to being so simple as the Western press and social democratic ideologues would like us to think it is.  To force Woodrow Wilson’s naivete onto South Africa is no more appropriate than to think that his political ideas would constitute a suitable engineering blueprint for draining the Florida everglades. 

            Malan himself is a complicated fellow—and not altogether admirable, despite the poetry in his soul and the profundity of his vision.  He comes from a three-centuries-old Afrikaner family, but he repudiated his heritage early on,  becoming a self-avowed Communist and admirer of Che.  He now sees Marxism as a gross over-simplification, but his book nevertheless contains the sort of foul language that typifies the counter-culture.   

            Be this as it may, I fully concur in the judgment reported on the jacket—that it is being “acclaimed as a masterpiece.”  One reviewer has caught its essence well when he’s called it “a parable of terror and beauty.”