As the title of the introduction to this book ‘Gathering the Residues’ clearly indicates, the author’s chief intention is to foreground, excavate or even glean what was deliberately, cunningly and strategically concealed – thus demonstrated – by the still partially authorised historiography given by Ernest Jones about ‘the entry of psychoanalysis into British medical culture’. Therefore, the author represented it as ‘far more complex than the Jones Account’ (p. xiii). This complexity is most significantly characterised by what may be termed the discursive constellations around ‘Mind Healing’ (p. xiv), a rapidly emerging type of psychotherapy at the turn of the nineteenth century when ‘the suggestion explanation theory was enthusiastically embraced by theologians, spiritualists, theosophists, and, of course “quacks”’. Such interfaces between ‘the secular, medical, psychical, spiritual, and theological lines’ (p. xv) conclusively manifest themselves in the last section of this book as ‘the soil into which British psychotherapeutics planted its roots’ from which ‘the swift growing tendrils of psychoanalysis emerged and spread’. Kuhn’s historiography has thus ‘removed Jones from self-proclaimed star attraction occupying center stage, and relegated him, instead, to a cameo role of a restless man pacing the wings and watching as individuals, disparate groups, and organizations circled Freud’ (p. 365). For that matter, Kuhn’s careful chronological reading and arrangement of his materials are successful enough to let us appreciate the full significance of the simple fact that ‘Jones was in Toronto during this critical period (1908–13) when Freud’s writing started to enter into the British medico-psychological discourse’ (p. xvii).
The strategy of this book thus becomes bifurcated: one part devotes itself to a set of tenacious perusals of Jones’s ‘manufacturing his own version of the early history’ (p. 3) of British psychoanalysis, and the other aims to cast light on ‘the history of hypnotism in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Britain’ (p. 13) as a crucial ‘pre-historical’ context which contributed a great deal to the institutionalisation of psychoanalysis as psychotherapy in this country. The former is effectively constituted in the first chapter entitled ‘A Pity to See History thus Unnecessarily Distorted’, where Kuhn’s close readings of Jones’s ‘rhetorical strategies – obfuscation, misinformation, omissions, silences and lies’ (p. 12) expose just how he attempted to ‘distort’ history in order to marginalise David Eder – recognised as ‘the first, and for a time the only doctor to practise the new therapy [of psychoanalysis] in England’ (p. 3) in Freud’s posthumous text, and to exaggerate the spiritualist aspects of F.W.H. Myers and the Society for Psychical Research (SPR). It is worth mentioning that it was through them that James Strachey gained access to Freud and wrote to Jones that ‘[t]he S.P.R. was still very lively (and not at all exclusively spiritualistic) at Cambridge when I was an undergraduate’ (p. 6). It is interesting to note here that the title of this chapter is a quotation from Jones’s letter to Anna Freud, in which he insists on the improbability of her father’s recognition of Eder as the first English analyst.
The author’s latter endeavour provides us with a wide-ranging and almost bird’s-eye perspective from which to reconsider what can be called the accumulated, fertile and also complicated discursive strata in which something spiritual, religious, psychic, therapeutic, psychological and psychoanalytic could intersect. One privileged topic is of course the SPR, an eclectic institution that was regarded by a contemporary psychiatrist as ‘the debatable borderland between the territory already conquered by science and the dark realms of ignorance and superstition’ (p. 17). Kuhn’s re-examination of this group – Myers’s language in particular – reveals the ways in which his medical and psychological absorption of Janet’s theory ‘helped prepare the psychological foundations for the British reception of Freud’ (p. 28). In addition, Myer’s idea of ‘the subliminal’ – seemingly in eclipse amongst hegemonic psychologists after his death – re-emerged as a hidden ‘current within SPR circles’, and thus enabled some psychical researchers to conduct a set of investigations into the often ‘neglected, or repressed or habitually unspoken inter-psychic communications’ which tend to be simply deprecated as the occult phenomena of ‘telepathy’ or ‘thought-transference’ (p. 331). In this historical context of the British fecund ‘soil’ for the acceptance of Freud, Kuhn is ambitious enough to grasp into his scope a series of almost mesmerist ‘Mind Healers’ – Arthur Hallen, George Wyld, George Spriggs and S.M. Bodie – and thereby brings into relief how they ‘posed an existential threat to an established medical order’ (p. 112). This commingling of the spiritual and medical also worked as an ideological spur to a ‘medical understanding of the demarcations between theology and medicine’ (p. 132), represented by Christian Science, ‘faith healing’ and some theosophical discourses. This is one of the essential components of the ‘pre-history’ of Freud’s successful entry into British psychotherapy.
Arguably, the most important figure in the last sequence of Kuhn’s narrative is T.W. Mitchell, who was ‘an astute reader of the psychotherapeutic literature’ and ‘a passionate advocate of hypnotism and suggestion’. He was also interested in the reason ‘why the “Freudian” concept of the unconscious was so different from the concept of the subconscious as used by other psychotherapists’ (p. 323). It is from this theoretical position that he invited psychoanalysts such as Ferenczi, Jung and Freud ‘to deliver talks’ (p. 338) in Britain. This kind of narrative is indeed informative about what was left unsaid or even distorted by Jones, but it fails to provide a sustained discussion as to the possible and highly problematic connections between suggestive hypnotism and Freudian psychoanalysis with newly developed and theorised – or ingeniously disguised? – concepts of ‘transference’ and ‘counter-transference’. This is amongst the most crucial issues for historians such as Mikel Borch-Jacobsen and Sonu Shamdasani, to whom Kuhn gives passing references in this vein. Given the book’s consistent interest in the hypnotist milieu favourable for the acceptance of Freudian psychoanalysis in Britain, this could be one possible, permissible and important expectation of the reader.