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Friedman, I. (1966). Suicide and Scandinavia: A Psychoanalytic Study of Culture and Character. By Herbert Hendin M.D. Grune and Stratton, Inc., New York, 1964 147 pp.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 26:214-214.

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(1966). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 26(2):214-214

Book Reviews

Suicide and Scandinavia: A Psychoanalytic Study of Culture and Character. By Herbert Hendin M.D. Grune and Stratton, Inc., New York, 1964 147 pp.

Review by:
Irving Friedman, M.D.

Dr. Hendin's previous monograph, “Psychoanalysis and Social Research,” is a lucid exposition of how he used the psychoanalytic method to elicit a wealth of accurate social and cultural information needed to research a certain premise. In the present work, again using this method, he has delved into the problem of suicide in the Scandinavian countries. It is a well known fact that the suicide rates for Denmark and Sweden are high, in contrast to the strikingly low incidence in Norway. Hendin, interested in explaining this phenomenon by as scientific a method as possible, spent considerable time in all three countries absorbing, as much as he could, the facets of the national characters, cultures, attitudes, and ways of existence of Scandinavians.

Implicit in Hendin's work is the premise that people who attempt suicide are reflecting cultural pressures that affect the entire society. Furthermore, he has shown quite well in this study of approximately 200 people, that if an observer is analytically trained, and takes for his frame of reference society as well as the individual, he can draw valid conclusions about a large group of people without having to set up a design of thousands of cases.

The suicidal patients in each country differed significantly in the ways they handled dependency within the family, and in their attitudes toward work, success, feelings, curbing of aggression, and death.

Of extreme importance as social determinants in suicidal Swedish persons

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