Freud is a beautiful graphic novel serving as an introduction to one of the best-known scientists, Sigmund Freud, the founding father of psychoanalysis. Written by French writer, economist, and psychoanalyst, Corinne Maier, this book functions as an illustrated intro to one of the world’s greatest thinkers of the twentieth century.
This non-fiction graphic novel is almost as genius as Freud’s teachings. Using the comic book medium, Maier and French artist Anne Simon paint a vivid picture of Sigmund Freud’s life; illustrating his childhood to adulthood using contorting lines and illustrious illusions to showcase the human mind.
While not in-depth with specific details, Freud is a basic look into psychoanalysis, or the psychological/psychotherapeutic theories and associated techniques created by Sigmund Freud, which include interpretation of dreams, revealing repressed and unconscious impulses, and concepts of childish sexuality. And while the subject could be confusing for those looking at psychology on the surface, it’s not – this book is something high school youth and adults can pick up and speed through.
The biographical comic creates Freud as almost a Dr. Seuss-like character, having Sigmund Freud exclaim his findings aloud as if he were traveling through his own mind from page to page. And as we watch him flow through his life beholding new findings, Anne Simon uses fantastic imagery through the graphic novel. Some pages look similar to a board game’s play setting, while other panels are a boat ride through Freudian imagination. Constantly, the Austrian neurologist refers back to old Greek and Jewish stories he can take bits from to apply to new findings, and Simon is there to handcraft beautiful borders and wondrous pictures alongside each page. Not to mention loads of naked men and women (this is Freud we’re talking about).
Freud studies numerous patients throughout this tale, tackling such subjects as dreams and repressed memories and even analyzing his own self at points. He discovers the secret to understanding dreams and deciphering their rebuses (which the book explains as a “puzzle that uses a combination of pictures and numbers to make words”). He uncovers the childish feelings of lust toward mothers and anger toward father figures. Freud also features numerous cameos from other famous figures and neurologists from the early 1900’s who either disagreed with Freud and dismissed him as a madman, or praised his genius, such as psychiatrist Carl Jung and surrealist painter Salvador Dali.
Perhaps my favorite part of Freud came from Sigmund’s explanation of primitive societies versus modern society. Freud compares cavemen living in packs under tyrannical fathers who monopolized women, and described the relation between those sons who murdered the father figures out of anger. The story was related to today’s society of fathers and sons who are constantly in war, and further making clear why murder is such taboo. Maier does a fantastic job of simplifying these observations of Freud in layman’s terms.
However enjoyable reading Freud’s observations may be, the entire graphic novel isn’t as whimsical as a Seuss book can pan out. Considering the times of Freud’s studies, toward the end of the book we watch as war breaks out, and we are shown the dangers and troubles Sigmund Freud experienced during Hitler’s rise. It’s a sharp turn at the end of the man’s life, but it’s a necessary depiction to guide the reader into comprehending the studies of a scientist living in Europe during the early 1900’s.
The pacing and storytelling from Corinne Maier is satisfying, definitely fitting hand-in-hand with Simon’s artwork. Freud feels like a journey into the functions of the human mind, both visually appealing and a fancy tickle to one’s imagination. While not going deeply into the works of Sigmund Freud, this biography earns its worthiness with captivating imagery and an imaginative pace of storytelling. At just under 60 pages, Freud will satisfy readers with a fantastic tale of an important human being.