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Stengel, A. (1957). The Neuroses in Clinical Practice: By Henry P. Laughlin. (Philadelphia and London: W. B. Saunders, 1956. Pp. 802. 87s. 6d.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 38:365.

(1957). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 38:365

The Neuroses in Clinical Practice: By Henry P. Laughlin. (Philadelphia and London: W. B. Saunders, 1956. Pp. 802. 87s. 6d.)

Review by:
A. Stengel

This book is an attempt at a textbook presentation of the neuroses from the psychodynamic point of view. The author set about his task very thoroughly and submitted most of the chapters to one or another of fifty-six senior psycho-analysts and psychiatrists. The book is nevertheless a highly personal product reflecting the author's didactic enthusiasm and his strong leanings towards systematization and simplification. It has some of the virtues and most of the vices of popular medical textbooks which offer complicated subjects chewed up in easily digestible form. The author, who is Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Washington University, is fond of technical terms and invents new ones on the slightest provocation. He lists twenty-one phobias each named after the feared object, thus beating most clinical psychiatrists of half a century ago. All symptoms and personality traits are regarded as defence mechanisms, of which he enumerates twenty-two. In his endeavour to explain 'gain through illness' he has created two linguistic monstrosities, 'endogain' and 'epigain', the former standing for unconscious, the latter for conscious gain. He proposes the term 'soteria' for the opposite of phobia, i.e. an excessive sense of security. Accordingly, the object to which this feeling is attached is the 'soterial object'. Another and rather picturesque new term is 'King David's reaction' or 'the royal Anger', of which a positive and negative form is described. This is a feeling arising from 'a defensive process through which condemnation and hatred of consciously disowned aspects of oneself become consciously experienced as dislike for another person'.

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