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J., E. (1921). Foundations of Psychiatry: By William A. White, M.D. (Nervous and Mental Disease Publishing Company, New York and Washington. 1921. Pp. 136. Price 3 dollars.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 2:469-470.

(1921). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 2:469-470

Foundations of Psychiatry: By William A. White, M.D. (Nervous and Mental Disease Publishing Company, New York and Washington. 1921. Pp. 136. Price 3 dollars.)

Review by:
E. J.

This is another of the very readable books with which Dr. White provides us. Its aim seems to be not so much a technical study of the individual insanities, a subject with which Dr. White has dealt in his well-known 'Outlines of Psychiatry,' as an attempt to broaden the conception of Psychiatry by showing its relation to other branches of medicine and psychology on the one hand, and to sociology and cognate sciences on the other. In this aim it admirably succeeds. It is an excellent and broad presentation of the implications of psychiatric study, approaching it from many aspects besides the technical one of psychiatry proper, such as those of zoology, pre-historic history of man, child development, endocrinology etc.

It is not very clear, however, precisely what audience Dr. White has in mind in writing the book, for to appreciate or even to understand the range of topics with which it deals needs a reader well-nigh as widely educated as the author himself. How many non-medical readers, for instance, would find such passages as the following easy reading? 'The voluntary type of muscle consists of two parts, sarcoplasmatic substance which is innervated by the autonomic system and, imbedded within this substance, the anisotropic disc system which is innervated by the projicient nervous apparatus,' or 'The affects are the psychological reverberations of the autonomically conditioned visceral and postural tonicities which thus become the physiological aspects of the emotions.' It would seem possible to have dealt even with such matters in a somewhat less technical manner.

Dr. White finds that the isolation of psycho-analysts in different countries during the war has led to the development of certain national characteristics. He speaks of the American School of Psychopathology and enumerates ten features characteristic of this school. It strikes us that most of these features are either not peculiar to America, or else are expressed in such a general way as to leave their precise meaning not obvious.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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