’Hysterical: Anna Freud’s Story’


Story Body:

BRATTLEBORO - Imagine growing up at the tail end of the hysteria epidemic that swept Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. You are sexually attracted to other girls, a proclivity that medical doctors of your era consider a symptom of hysteria. Your world-renowned father is one of them. Worse, he has built much of his reputation on his "discovery" that your sort of hysteria is a gateway to mental illness that is always caused by the father and is curable by psychoanalysis.

Then he analyzes you.

Anna Freud (1895-1982) harbored a secret that could have shaken the foundations of her father’s growing legacy. Suspecting as much, Sigmund psychoanalyzed her. Was that analysis the erotic echo chamber that he warned analysis is? Who was Dorothy Burlingham, a figure that most of Sigmund’s and Anna’s biographers have tirelessly ignored? How did Anna manage to live a full life, raise a family with Dorothy, and become a guiding force for analysts, educators, and humanitarians--all while devoting herself to her homophobic father as he aged and died? "Hysterical" is the fact-based, fictional autobiography of Anna Freud. In it, she tells her story for the first time.

Rebecca Coffey is an award-winning journalist, documentary filmmaker, and radio commentator. Also a humorist, she is the author of "Nietzsche’s Angel Food Cake: And Other ‘Recipes’ for the Intellectually Famished."

Coffey will be reading excerpts from her book at Everyone’s Books at 25 Elliot Street, Brattleboro at 6 p.m. on Sept. 5. during Gallery Walk.

"Journalist Coffey . . . presents an avidly researched, shrewd, and unnerving first novel that purports to be the lost autobiography of Anna Freud. . . . Coffey offers some truly shocking disclosures about the Freud family in this complexly entertaining, sexually dramatic, acidly funny novel of genius and absurdity, insight and delusion, independence and loyalty."--Booklist

"Completely absorbing and entirely believable, "Hysterical" is both a lovely work and a treasure. This is the book we all wish Anna Freud had had the courage to write." --Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, author The Assault on Truth: Freud’s Suppression of the Seduction Theory and former Projects Director of The Freud Archives

Fact-Based Fiction. 343 pages, with archival photographs and bibliography.

(She Writes Press: May 2014)


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