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J., E. (1920). The Psychology of Functional Neuroses: By H. L. Hollingworth, (Appleton & Co. New York and London. Pp. 259. Price $ 2.00 or 10s. 6d.).. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 1:487-489.

(1920). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 1:487-489

The Psychology of Functional Neuroses: By H. L. Hollingworth, (Appleton & Co. New York and London. Pp. 259. Price $ 2.00 or 10s. 6d.).

Review by:
E. J.

There is a novelty in the plan of this book which arrests one's attention. Instead of attacking the problems of the neuroses by means of direct study of individual cases and individual symptoms, the author, who is a professional psychologist, has approached the subject in quite another way. His essential method is to apply a series of standard laboratory tests to a very large number of cases with the aim of ascertaining what generalisations may issue therefrom.

He begins by giving a very cursory review of the medical work in this field, his attitude towards which is decidedly superior and disparaging. In searching for a central concept that may serve to unify the various data, he rapidly disposes of such ideas as are implied in the terms of "dissociation", "fixation", "conversion", "general suggestibility", "conditioned reaction", "pithiatism", "symbolism" and so on; the only one to which he gives even a conditional consideration is "regression". Incidentally he quotes some interesting passages from Herbart's Textbook of Psychology, containing several anticipations of the Freudian conceptions, such as the rivalry of mental elements, the suppression of the weaker by the dominant, persistance of the suppressed element below the threshold of consciousness, its transformation in the effort to express itself, distinction between the conscious and the unconscious mind, and so on; the main difference here is that Herbart operated in terms of ideas, and not of those of more dynamic elements. It is historically untrue, however, to say that these conceptions were "adopted bodily" by Freud from Herbart (p. 10). It may be imagined that the author will have nothing to say to Psycho-Analysis. He dismisses what he calls "this extravagant and analogical machinery" in the following words: "The intricate mazes, transformations, and epicycles of the psychoanalytic dogma in its present form resemble the familiar Ptolemaic astronomy, which waited long for a simple formulation that would place the observed facts on a basis of actual understanding" (p. 150).

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