Decline and Fall of the Freudian Empire

Decline and Fall of the Freudian Empire

Decline and Fall of the Freudian Empire
The 1986 Pelican Books edition
Author Hans Eysenck
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Psychology
Published 1985 (Viking)
Media type Print
Pages 224

Decline and Fall of the Freudian Empire is a 1985 book about Sigmund Freud and psychoanalysis by psychologist Hans Eysenck. A revised edition with a preface by his widow, Sybil Eysenck, was published in 2004.[1]


Eysenck argues that psychoanalysis is unscientific and that its theories are based on no legitimate base of observation or experiment and have the status only of speculation. Eysenck argues that the veracity of psychoanalysis is testable through traditional empirical means, and that in all areas where such tests have been carried out it has failed.[2]

Eysenck calls Freud, "a genius, not of science, but of propaganda, not of rigorous proof, but of persuasion, not of the design of experiments, but of literary art."[2] He gives favorable evaluations of several works critical of psychoanalysis, including Henri Ellenberger's The Discovery of the Unconscious (1970), Frank Sulloway's Freud, Biologist of the Mind (1979), Jacques Van Rillaer's Les Illusions de la Psychanalyse (1980), and Adolf Grünbaum's The Foundations of Psychoanalysis (1984). He accepts Elizabeth Thornton's argument, made in her Freud and Cocaine (1983), also published under the title The Freudian Fallacy, that Freud's patient Anna O. suffered from tuberculous meningitis.[3][4]

Scholarly reception

Malcolm Macmillan notes in his [5]

Cultural historian Richard Webster writes in his Why Freud Was Wrong (1995) that Eysenck's work contains many cogent criticisms of Freud. However, Webster criticizes Eysenck for accepting Thornton's argument that Freud's patient Anna O. suffered from tuberculous meningitis uncritically and in an unqualified way, remarking that while he is skeptical of Freud's theories, he sometimes suspends his skepticism when assessing the arguments of Freud's critics.[3]



  1. ^ Wilcocks.
  2. ^ a b Frosh 1987. pp. 6, 276.
  3. ^ a b Webster 2005. pp. 577-78.
  4. ^ Eysenck 1986. pp. 212-213.
  5. ^ Macmillan 1997. pp. 10, 684.


Online articles
  • Wilcocks, Robert. "The Empire Strikes Back". Retrieved 2014-05-23.