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Brierley, M. (1959). Instinct in Man; In the Light of Recent Work in Comparative Psychology: By Ronald Fletcher. (London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd. 1957. Pp. 348. 40s.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 40:150-151.

(1959). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 40:150-151

Instinct in Man; In the Light of Recent Work in Comparative Psychology: By Ronald Fletcher. (London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd. 1957. Pp. 348. 40s.)

Review by:
Marjorie Brierley

This book by the Lecturer in Sociology, Bedford College, London, is a revised version of his Ph.D. thesis, and its main aim is 'to explore the possibilities of establishing a reliable basis of psychological theory which would prove useful in the context of wider sociological theory.' In Part I he surveys earlier work on instincts, from Darwin and William James through Lloyd Morgan and Hobhouse to McDougall, Drever, and Ginsburg. He discusses the criticisms levelled at their views and points out the considerable measure of agreement between their theories, particularly in regard to the discernibility and importance of instinctual experience and behaviour in man. In Part II he reviews the contribution of modern ethologists, summarizing the work of Lorenz, Tinbergen, Brun, and others, where again there are many differences of opinion but a considerable area of agreement.

The author then turns to a critical but fundamentally sympathetic examination of Freud's views on instinct. Although he has no practical experience of psycho-analysis he has grasped many of the more essential of Freud's insights and he seems to be devoid of 'emotional resistance'. His criticisms are based on logical and comparative grounds, and his presentation is in the main fair and clear although inevitably brief and selective, and is amply supported by quotations. Only in one minor instance, his definition of 'undoing' as, in effect, a variant of repression, does he go astray; so far as my memory serves the term 'undoing' is never used in psycho-analysis except in connexion with the obsessional technique of 'doing and undoing'.

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