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J., E. (1920). Human Motives. By J. J. Putnam, M.D., (Little, Brown & Co., Boston, 1915. Pp. 175.).. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 1:328-329.

(1920). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 1:328-329

Human Motives. By J. J. Putnam, M.D., (Little, Brown & Co., Boston, 1915. Pp. 175.).

Review by:
E. J.

This little volume is one of a series designed to extend popular knowledge on the relation of psychology to individual and social welfare, a matter in which, as is known, the author was specially interested. The six chapters are entitled respectively: Main sources of motives; The rational basis of religion; The psycho-analytic movement; Educational bearings of psycho-analysis; Instincts and ideals; An attempt at synthesis.

In the first chapter Putnam points out the complexity of most motives, and states: "It usually happens that men are moved by broader and better motives than they are consciously aware of, and that to be so moved is, virtually, to acknowledge obligations of which the final implication can be expressed only in ideal terms". This sentence gives the keynote to the whole book. There are two sorts of motives, constructive and adaptive, and to the study of these there are two corresponding modes of approach, that of philosophy and religion on the one hand, and that of genetic psychology (psycho-analysis) on the other. Both are indispensable methods of study, but if forced to choose between them Putnam would prefer the former because it deals with man at his best and highest.

An excellent and accurate general account of psycho-analysis is given, including its history, though for Putnam it "like all scientific doctrines is valid only within certain definite limits". The chapter on the bearings of psycho-analysis on education, though charmingly written, is perhaps open to the criticism of not being precise and concrete enough, especially in regard to sexuality.

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