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Rosenthal, H. (1959). Existence: A New Dimension in Psychiatry and Psychology. Edited by Rollo May, Ernest Angel and Henry T. Ellenberger. 445 pp. Basic Books, New York, 1958. $7.50.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 19(1):106-108.

(1959). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 19(1):106-108

Book Reviews

Existence: A New Dimension in Psychiatry and Psychology. Edited by Rollo May, Ernest Angel and Henry T. Ellenberger. 445 pp. Basic Books, New York, 1958. $7.50.

Review by:
Herbert Rosenthal, M.D.

Existentialism has permeated the thinking of European psychoanalysts and psychiatrists. This book represents an attempt to give the American reader the translation from the German and French of some of the works of the leading spokesmen for the existential analytic movement: Ludwig Binswanger, Eugene Minkowski, Erwin W. Straus, V. E. von Gebsattel, and Roland Kuhn. They are introduced by three general articles, two by Rollo May, “The Origin and Significance of the Existential Movement in Psychology,” “Contributions of Existential Psychotherapy,” and the third by Henry Ellenberger, “A Clinical Introduction to Psychiatric Phenomenology and Existential Analysis.”

In the introduction, May undertakes a difficult task in trying to convey the depth and full range of existentialist concepts. He warns of the loss, distortions and, sometimes, the impossibility of conveying accurate meanings in translations. This in itself is an interesting commentary on the empirical level of psychology and of existentialism in particular. Translations of any of the exact sciences are easily understood because they deal with abstractions which can be quantified and defined in contrast to the necessarily loose empirical terms and formulations that deal with psychotherapy and existentialism.

May emphasizes philosophical considerations in order to clarify what is meant by “existential analysis.” The existential movement is not just another school of thought which has deviated from Freudianism.

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