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Isaacs, S. (1927). The Escape from the Primitive: By Horace Carncross, M.D. (Charles Scribner's Sons, London, 1926. Pp. xiv + 348. Price 10 s. 6 d. net.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 8:297-298.

(1927). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 8:297-298

The Escape from the Primitive: By Horace Carncross, M.D. (Charles Scribner's Sons, London, 1926. Pp. xiv + 348. Price 10 s. 6 d. net.)

Review by:
Susan Isaacs

This is a lay sermon on the text of psycho-analytic theories: an attempt to transform practical ethics in the light of advances in psychological knowledge. It is a solemn and solid book, fairly well based in broad biological studies, and moderately well informed about psycho-analytic theory. The author tends, however, to take this latter too dramatically, and is vague in detail. For example, he seems puzzled by the relations between fighting and the sexual impulse, and does not seem to recognize the actual sadistic element in the sexual impulse itself. In spite of a few first-hand observations, his knowledge of so-called primitive peoples appears to have been gained from the French school of psychologists rather than from field workers. He accepts, for instance, the theory of 'collective representations', and talks of 'primitive man' in the large in a way that is at once too dramatic and too theoretic. He naïvely accepts the theory of original sexual promiscuity, and has the hardihood to speak of 'the occurrence of exogamy in two such widely separated peoples of Aryan stock as the Albanians and the Hindoos, where a borrowing of custom would have been impossible' (reviewer's italics). There is a good deal of repetition, and the writing is heavy and devoid of distinction, which is a pity, since its general movement of thought is not without value.

Article Citation [Who Cited This?]

Isaacs, S. (1927). The Escape from the Primitive. Int. J. Psycho-Anal.

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