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Stephen, K. (1932). Effective Thinking: By Joseph Jastrow. (London: Noel Douglas. Pp. 263. Price 7 s. 6 d.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 13:387-388.

(1932). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 13:387-388

Effective Thinking: By Joseph Jastrow. (London: Noel Douglas. Pp. 263. Price 7 s. 6 d.)

Review by:
Karin Stephen

The attempt to say why we think and to what extent our thinking is successful and how it may be improved, without taking the unconscious into account, is not likely to be illuminating, from the point of view of theory. The purpose of this book, however, is described by the author himself as being 'confined to a syllabus of suggestions for the management of one's own mental—which in this reference means one's logical—habits and affairs' or 'menticulture'. Graded training exercises are recommended and the avoidance of emotional bias.

The writer of this book on Effective Thinking makes no reference to the unconscious. He recognizes as the great impediments to thought what he calls 'subjectivism' 'personalism' or 'self-centeredness'. He also tells us that 'the emotional impediments to thought are spread over a wide domain' and that 'subjective feeling impedes objective judgment' and that 'the personal equation enters in'. But nowhere does he shew any knowledge of the relation between sublimations and repressed infantile libidinal trends, between scientific curiosity, for instance, and earlier sexual curiosity; he does not shew any appreciation of the symbolic significance of the things which engage adult interest or the possibility that conflict and guilt over early attempts to get forbidden knowledge may inhibit intellectual capacity later.

In turning over the problem of effective thinking many lines of approach might suggest themselves, such as the part played by words in thinking, the paranoid tendency to manipulate words, the defence significance of preoccupation with abstractions. There is no reference in this book to any such problems and indeed those whose interest in the question of the effectiveness of thinking goes beyond the common sense approach will find the book disappointing.

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