Freud: His Life and His Mind

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Freud: His Life and His Mind
Freud, His Life and His Mind (first edition).jpg
Cover of the first edition
Author Helen Walker Puner
Country United States
Language English
Subject Sigmund Freud
Published 1947 (Dell Publishing)
Media type Print (Hardcover and Paperback)
Pages 288 (1959 edition)
ISBN 978-1560006114

Freud: His Life and His Mind is a 1947 biography of Sigmund Freud by Helen Walker Puner. The book was reprinted in 1959 with a new foreword by psychoanalyst Erich Fromm.[1] The work was praised by Fromm, but has also received criticism from scholars.


Psychoanalyst Anna Freud was outraged by Puner's work, describing it as "horrible" in a letter to Ernest Jones. Oliver Freud had a less negative view of the book, believing that Puner's errors were the result of citing Carl Jung, Wilhelm Stekel, and Fritz Wittels.[2] Fromm, in his foreword to Freud: His Life and His Mind, commented that, "although it was not written by a professional psychologist, it shows a sensitivity and grasp of Freud's personality and cultural function which is quite unusual." Fromm welcomed the book's republication, crediting Puner with having provided "a more analytical and realistic" picture of Freud than previous authors and with recognizing both Freud's personal psychological problems and the pseudo-religious character of psychoanalysis. Fromm wrote that Freud: His Life and His Mind, "will help greatly to disseminate a true and inspiring picture of the founder of psychoanalysis."[1] Historian Peter Gay wrote in Freud: A Life for Our Time (1988) that Puner's biography is "fairly hostile and neither very scholarly nor very reliable" but that it was sufficiently influential for Ernest Jones to criticize it in The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud (1953).[3]

Psychologist Louis Breger called Freud: His Life and His Mind a perceptive work for its time, writing that Puner managed to construct a balanced account of Freud despite her ignorance of key facts, including the existence of Wilhelm Fliess. Breger considered Puner's version of Freud "more human" than those of Jones and Gay.[4] Critic Frederick Crews, writing in The New York Review of Books, described Walker's book as "astute". According to Crews, Anne Freud commissioned Jones to write The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud as a response to Puner's book.[5]



  1. ^ a b Fromm 1955. pp. 9-10.
  2. ^ Borch-Jacobsen 2012. p. 257, 350.
  3. ^ Gay 1995. p. 744.
  4. ^ Breger 2000. p. 384.
  5. ^ Crews 2017.


  • Borch-Jacobsen, Mikkel; Shamdasani, Sonu (2012). The Freud Files: An Inquiry into the History of Psychoanalysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-72978-9. 
  • Breger, Louis (2000). Freud: Darkness in the Midst of Vision. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. ISBN 0-471-31628-8. 
  • Fromm, Erich; Puner, Helen Walker (1959). Freud: His Life and His Mind. New York: Dell Publishers. 
  • Gay, Peter (1995). Freud: A Life for Our Time. London: Papermac. ISBN 0-333-48638-2. 
Online articles