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Yates, S.L. (1933). Psychoanalysis and Medicine. A Study of the Wish to Fall Ill: By Karin Stephen. (Cambridge University Press, London, 1933. Pp. 238. Price 8 s. 6 d. net.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 14:509.
(1933). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 14:509
Psychoanalysis and Medicine. A Study of the Wish to Fall Ill: By Karin Stephen. (Cambridge University Press, London, 1933. Pp. 238. Price 8 s. 6 d. net.)
Review by: S. L. Yates
As a corollary to Freud's Introductory Lectures this is the best book I have read. Dr. Karin Stephen does not forget her readers throughout. She does not thrust analytic theories at them, but deals admirably with their most probable difficulties in accepting certain concepts. Above all, there is a minimum of technical language employed which makes for clarity of thinking. Most happily chosen are her phrases 'unconscious delusions' and 'unconscious pre-occupations'.
The book is of use not only to those who have little knowledge of psycho-analysis, but also to those analysts who have to lecture to the lay public. It is of special importance at a time like the present when there is so much interest in the deeper problems of the unconscious mind. It forms an admirable bridge between the earlier writings and the current psycho-analytic literature.
Turning now to the actual content of the book: the first chapter gives a brief outline of the Freudian theory of the purpose of psychogenic illness as a defence mechanism against a return of repressed impulses and the morbid anxiety which accompanies such return. It also describes the method of free association as a means of reaching the repressed impulses.
In the next two chapters the author refers to criticisms which have been made against psycho-analysis. She shows how both the patient and the general practitioner are bound to be averse to understanding the meaning of psychogenic symptoms which would menace their defence mechanisms. The criticisms are dealt with in a sympathetic manner and with an understanding of the critics' difficulties, and they form some of the best chapters in the book.
Then follow chapters on the mouth stage, excretory stage and the Oedipus complex, and good illustrative case material is given.
Perhaps the last two chapters on anxiety, guilt and treatment do not quite maintain the high level of the rest of the book because of a tendency towards repetition. The whole book is characterized by a refreshing boldness and breadth of vision, but the omission of an index is regrettable, although the admirable summaries at the end of each chapter go far to minimize this defect.
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