Books: A Lot Lower Than the Angels

PSYCHOANALYSIS: THE IMPOSSIBLE PROFESSION by Janet Malcolm; Knopf; 174 pages; $9.95

When Sigmund Freud, his apostles and apostates jumped down the rabbit hole of the unconscious, they found a world that had as much to do with myth, religion and art as it did with science. Psychoanalysis is hardly an objective discipline. Physical scientists must cope with the fact that even inert nature can be altered by the act of observation. The assumption that one active mind can know another is staggering in its implications—like playing three-dimensional chess in a maze of mirrors....

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