A major figure among pre-World War I psychoanalysts, Victor Tausk was perhaps Sigmund Freud's most brilliant pupil—"the most prominently out-standing" in the opinion of Lou Andreas-Salome. Tausk craved recognition for the originality of his work, and a fierce rivalry developed between pupil and mentor. Tausk, who felt a deep and neurotic dependence on Freud, was totally consumed in the struggle. Freud's final rejection of his follower, and the particularly unfortunate manner in which it was carried out, was followed by Tausk's bizarre suicide—and by an official silence that has all but obliterated his name from the annals of psychoanalysis.
Arthur Koestler called Brother Animal "A very important and original contribution to the history of the psychoanalytic movement and beyond that to the history of ideas," and Maxwell Geismar said it was "the best treatment of Freud and that remarkable group of his original disciples that 1 have read. It reads as if Mr. Roazen was right there at the time, inside the inner circle."