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Glover, E. (1951). Which Way out: By C. P. Oberndorf, M.D. (New York: International Universities Press, Inc., 1948. Pp. 236, $3.25.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 32:258-259.

(1951). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 32:258-259

Which Way out: By C. P. Oberndorf, M.D. (New York: International Universities Press, Inc., 1948. Pp. 236, $3.25.)

Review by:
Edward Glover

Looking back over the now long record of psycho-analytical publications, it becomes apparent that the exposition of psycho-analysis, both in scientific and in popular aspects, has been hampered by what might be termed the comparative illiteracy of contributors. Granted that the literary standards of writers on general medicine are, to say the least of it, somewhat schoolboyish, one might nevertheless have expected those who are concerned with the mental problems and disorders of man to have some flair for descriptive writing. No doubt the exposition of unconscious function is peculiarly difficult; but this cannot fully explain why good popular accounts of psycho-analysis are so hard to come by or why scientific articles on the subject should pay less and less attention to the delineation in recognizable form of human character.

Dr. Oberndorf, as might have been expected of a psycho-analytical student of Oliver Wendell Holmes, has at the same time resuscitated some of the older and more cultured traditions of anamnesis, tried a not inexpert hand at character delineation in novel-form and broken new ground in the technique of popular presentation. The leit-motif of his book, or rather of his collection of short stories, is the development of psychiatry from its pre-Freudian phase down to post-war times. This is elaborated in a series of psychiatric vignettes sketched by the protagonist, one Dr. Ford, whose identity is not hard to seek. Current medical scepticism is voiced by a number of Dr. Ford's colleagues who act as a Columbian chorus of Dr. Watsons to his Sherlock Holmes.

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