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IN BRIEF

February 21, 1993|CHRIS GOODRICH

MY FATHER'S GURU: A Journey Through Spirituality and Disillusion by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson (Addison-Wesley Publishing: $20; 192 pp.). Former psychoanalyst Jeffrey Masson, deservedly or not, is likely to be remembered by history less for his own work--a decade ago he published a virulent, self-righteous attack on Freud titled "The Assault on Truth: Freud's Suppression of the Seduction Theory"--than his subsequent depiction in the New Yorker as an intellectually dishonest publicity hound. The jury is still out on his case--almost literally, as Masson's defamation lawsuit against the New Yorker continues to simmer--but there's no question that the controversy has at least prodded Masson toward self-examination. In "My Father's Guru," Masson describes his family's close, essentially "co-dependent" relationship with Paul Brunton, the writer who popularized East Indian mysticism in the West through a number of books published in the 1930s. Brunton, who lived with the Massons off and on for many years, wielded enormous psychological power over them, but it was of a peculiar stripe; he sought influence, not affluence, and although unreliable and somewhat devious, Brunton seems to have been a genuine believer in the spiritual life he preached. "My Father's Guru" is an interesting account of a warped upbringing made fascinating by the insight it provides into Masson's adult life. He makes no excuses: In initially revering Freud and other authority figures, Masson realizes he was seeking new and better gurus than Brunton--and was fated to reject them pitilessly when they showed themselves, like Brunton, to be merely human.

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