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Glover, E. (1929). The Social Basis of Consciousness: By Trigant Burrow, M.D., Ph.D. (Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., Ltd., London, 1927. Pp. 256. Price 12s. 6d. net.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 10:111-114.

(1929). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 10:111-114

The Social Basis of Consciousness: By Trigant Burrow, M.D., Ph.D. (Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., Ltd., London, 1927. Pp. 256. Price 12s. 6d. net.)

Review by:
Edward Glover

If ever an authoritative 'Reviewer's Handbook' is compiled by some leisured psycho-analyst for the guidance of harassed journalistic colleagues, a good deal of space will doubtless be devoted to the Function of the Preface. In the meantime we must be content with cruder formulations, which have nevertheless the sanction of analytical validity. It is in keeping with our knowledge of free association to suggest that when an unwary or unusually candid author commits himself to anything more than a mere formal preface, the wary or unscrupulous reviewer does well to give that preface most of his attention: this is to some extent true for the Appendix, also for the Footnote, but for obviously psycho-analytical reasons the Preface is the spearhead of the argument; the sting of a book is more often in its head than in its tail.

From these prefatory and a priori incriminating remarks it will be gathered that, in the present reviewer's opinion, the significance of The Social Basis of Consciousness can be estimated only after careful study of the preface. Indeed, to make no bones of the matter, one might go so far as to say that the content and tendency of the book itself might safely be predicted from the preface alone. The author describes how in the course of 'analysing' a student-assistant (reviewer's italics) he accepted the latter's challenge to change places, found the situation intensely distasteful and jumped to the conclusion that the individualistic application of psycho-analysis was inseparable from authoritarianism. For some reason or other the assistant arrived at the same conclusion about the same time: as the result of further mutual analysis, both relinquished this authoritarian attitude, formulated a wider psycho-analysis on the basis of its more inclusive impersonal meaning and things went swimmingly.

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