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Brierley, M. (1956). Problems of Consciousness Two Volumes: Transactions of the Fourth (1953) and Fifth (1954) Conferences: Edited by Harold A. Abramson. (New York: Josiah Macy, Jr., Foundation, 1954, pp. 177, $3.25; 1955, pp. 180, $3.50.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 37:499-500.
(1956). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 37:499-500
Problems of Consciousness Two Volumes: Transactions of the Fourth (1953) and Fifth (1954) Conferences: Edited by Harold A. Abramson. (New York: Josiah Macy, Jr., Foundation, 1954, pp. 177, $3.25; 1955, pp. 180, $3.50.)
Review by: Marjorie Brierley
These volumes report the last two multiprofessional conferences sponsored by the Josiah Macy, Jr., Foundation and held at yearly intervals at Princeton, N.J., under the Chairmanship of Dr. Roy R. Grinker, of the Institute of Psychosomatic and Psychiatric Research and Training, Michael Reese Hospital, Chicago, Ill. They represent 'an attempt to stimulate research and to promote effective communication across the departmental walls which tend to isolate the professions and specialities from one another.' The twenty-two Members include representatives of anatomy, experimental biology, physiology, medicine and psychiatry, psychology, sociology and psycho-analysis (Grete L. Bibring, David Rapaport, Gregory Zilboorg).
Volume IV opens with a review by the Chairman of the three previous Conferences. Bearing in mind the difficulties of definition and the diversity of terminology and frames of reference, he says, 'In my opinion if this conference can accomplish anything, it can establish the knowable frames of reference from which consciousness may be observed, described and interfered with' (p. 18). Not unnaturally, the Conference was continually beset by 'difficulties in communication'. However, as the 'Closing Remarks' at the end of Volume V indicate, the participants did not feel that their time had been wasted in spite of the fact that no very positive results emerged. One Member's judgement of the Conferences is probably very accurate: '… I think we have got a tremendous amount from them. I think we have gained more from them than anyone will get from reading the transactions. In my opinion those volumes are simply not representative of the interchange of ideas that we have experienced. I know they are our words. I know they report what we said. However, what we, as a group, have got from these conferences does not, I think, emerge for an outside reader. It is all between the lines' (Mary A. B. Brazier, p. 158).
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