On the Couch: Writers Analyze Sigmund Freud

A collection of colorful and candid essays and other pieces about Freud and his legacy today, featuring twenty-five leading writers

With original contributions by André Aciman • Sarah Boxer • Jennifer Finney Boylan • Susie Boyt • Gerald Early • Esther Freud • Rivka Galchen • Adam Gopnik • David Gordon • Siri Hustvedt • Sheila Kohler • Peter D. Kramer • Phillip Lopate • Thomas Lynch • Daphne Merkin • David Michaelis • Rick Moody • Susie Orbach • Richard Panek • Alex Pheby • Michael S. Roth • Casey Schwartz • Mark Solms • Colm Tóibín • Sherry Turkle


Published (US):
May 14, 2024
Published (UK):
Jul 9, 2024
5.5 x 8.5 in.
7 b/w illus.
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W. H. Auden described Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) as “a whole climate of opinion / Under whom we conduct our differing lives.” The controversial father of psychiatry and psychoanalysis, Freud charted the human unconscious, brought us the talking cure, and wrote books that now rank among the classics of world literature. In On the Couch, the great analyst is analyzed by some of today’s great writers and thinkers, who help us understand the man who has helped us understand ourselves as much, if not more, than anyone else, ever. The result is a fresh, multifaceted reassessment of Freud’s continuing relevance and influence on ideas, literature, culture, science, and more.

Here, Colm Tóibín writes about Freud, World War I, Henry James, and Thomas Mann; Adam Gopnik explores Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents; Susie Orbach considers Freud’s “ordinary unhappiness” and D. W. Winnicott’s “good enough”; Jennifer Finney Boylan reflects on penis envy and gender identity; Peter Kramer describes how new science and drugs have revolutionized psychology since Freud; Susie Boyt, one of Freud’s great-granddaughters, spends the night at the Freud Museum in London; Siri Hustvedt examines Freud’s divided reception today; and there’s much more.

Filled with insights, provocation, and humor, On the Couch offers an original and nuanced portrait of Freud as a complex figure who, for all his flaws, forever changed how we see ourselves and the world.

Awards and Recognition

  • A Millions Most Anticipated Book of 2024