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Hughes, P. (1984). Freud and Society by Yiannis Gabriel. The International Library of Group Psychotherapy and Group Process published by Routledge and Kegan Paul: London, 1983, 324 pages; £ 14.95, hardback.. Brit. J. Psychother., 1(1):89.

(1984). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 1(1):89

Book Reviews

Freud and Society by Yiannis Gabriel. The International Library of Group Psychotherapy and Group Process published by Routledge and Kegan Paul: London, 1983, 324 pages; £ 14.95, hardback.

Review by:
Patricia Hughes

The central idea in Freud and Society is that the individual and society are intimately related; that the study of the individual is inextricably integrated with the study of society. Thus Freud's theories both of individual psychopathology and of society have been and are important to exponents of social and political theory. The book is a series of essays in two parts. Part I comprises a survey of those areas of Freudian theory which Gabriel considers most relevant for his area of study; the emphasis is on the conflict and tension between the individual and society, and with this as a continuing theme he examines Freud's theories of instincts, the unconscious and repression, and the topographical model of the mind.

In part 11, Gabriel presents some of the work of an eclectic group of writers, including Reich and Fromm, Marcuse & Norman 0. Brown, Becker and Reiff, and discusses the influence of Freud's ideas on their work. Whilst acknowledging the creativity of some of their ideas, Gabriel contends that these writers use Freud's ideas selectively, ignoring inconvenient and unacceptable aspects of Freudian theory. Where they deviate from the Freudian view Gabriel himself comes down firmly on the side of Freudian orthodoxy. Part II concludes with the author's own analysis of present-day western society, a “world dominated by impersonal machines and by consumption as the principle mode of social exchange”.

This book is a scholarly and highly theoretical work and one which deals with an area of thought which may be unfamiliar to many clinicians, especially those with a background and training in medicine rather than the arts or social science. The level of abstraction, theory about theory, does not make it easy reading, partly because of the considerable ground covered in the book. This is Freud out of his usual context, a fascinating extension of our clinical horizons, and an interesting addition to the International Library of Group Psychotherapy.


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