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Meyer, M.A. (1928). Why We Misbehave: By Samuel D. Schmalhausen. Author of Humanizing Education. (New York, The Macaulay Company. MCMXXVIII. Pp. 313. Price $3.00.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 9:501-503.

(1928). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 9:501-503

Why We Misbehave: By Samuel D. Schmalhausen. Author of Humanizing Education. (New York, The Macaulay Company. MCMXXVIII. Pp. 313. Price $3.00.)

Review by:
M. A. Meyer

Another addition to the numerous books apparently designed for popular consumption that attempt to explain the behaviour and misbehaviour of human beings in terms of the new, the newer and the newest psychologies. This work is dedicated impartially and, we might add, indiscriminately to Freud, Adler and Jung. The author, however, soon evinces distinctly Adlerian leanings. He demonstrates a correspondingly strong social-economic bias despite protests that the most illuminating approach to an understanding of the problems he attacks is the psychological one. While there is some endeavour to weld the two viewpoints through the term 'socio-psychologic', it is obvious that for him: 'The economic and social forces are the solid background, the psychologic and pathologic factors are the subtle foreground of every problem concerning the vital interrelation between human nature and the environment' (p. 57, reviewer's italics). A particularized critical notice of a book of this type not only is beyond the scope of reviews appearing in this JOURNAL, but also is rendered difficult on the one hand by the fact that: 'A detailed discussion of the ideas set forth in this volume would of necessity be as voluminous if not more so than the book itself …' (p. 6), and on the other hand by the circumstance that the text tends to lack unity despite redundance. We will, therefore, content ourselves with a few observations which we believe present a fair picture of the book.

Both in style and spirit Why We Misbehave is strongly reminiscent of the author's Humanizing Education (reviewed by Barbara Low in this JOURNAL, Vol. VIII, Part 3, pp. 441–2, July 1927, q.v.). Indeed, Miss Low's comments on the latter work can, in general, with little or no modification, be applied to the former. In both we find the same floods of rhetoric, sweeping statements and high-flown diction. On p. 130 of the present book the vocabulary of the English language fails the author, and he becomes neologistic ('sexcitement', italicized in the original).

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