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Strachey, J. (1924). A Critical Examination of Psycho-Analysis: By A. Wohlgemuth, D.Sc. (Lond.) (Allen & Unwin, London, 1923. Pp. 250. Price 10 s. 6 d. net.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 5:222-225.

(1924). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 5:222-225

A Critical Examination of Psycho-Analysis: By A. Wohlgemuth, D.Sc. (Lond.) (Allen & Unwin, London, 1923. Pp. 250. Price 10 s. 6 d. net.)

Review by:
James Strachey

This volume is chiefly remarkable for its dust-cover, and we therefore propose in this instance to review the dust-cover instead of the book which it contains. Dr. Wohlgemuth's work, so we are informed by his publishers, Messrs. George Allen & Unwin, 'is a sober and dispassionate examination of Freud's teachings'. Every psycho-analyst, then, will rejoice at the prospect of reading it; for every psycho-analyst is conscious that this new science, owing to the rapidity of its growth and the difficulty of its subject-matter, stands in special need of an occasional reconsideration of its underlying postulates and of an occasional sifting and co-ordinating of its results. And even though the examination should be a critical one and its conclusions unfavourable, nevertheless, if it is sober and dispassionate, the psycho-analyst may reasonably expect to find his own problems clarified by the process of meeting the arguments of his opponent. Such are the hopeful thoughts stirred up by the dust-cover in the confiding reader's mind. We should strongly recommend him to content himself with these hopes and to proceed no further. For behind the dust-cover lie things which will rudely shock his innocence, and may even destroy his faith in dust-covers for ever.

To begin with, it is true, we come upon nothing that is particularly disquieting. Dr. Wohlgemuth finds time in his opening chapters, before disproving the existence of the 'unconscious', to spare a page or two for explaining the nature of the mind and its relation to the body. A few sentences from p. 16 will show that he is as much at home in physiology as in psychology, and will serve at the same time as a contrast to the wild and unsupported hypotheses put forward by the psycho-analysts:

The blood circulating in the brain supplies it with highly complex chemical substances.

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