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Hardenberg, H.E. (1959). A Short History of Psychotherapy: By Nigel Walker. (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1957. Pp. 185. 25s.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 40:351.

(1959). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 40:351

A Short History of Psychotherapy: By Nigel Walker. (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1957. Pp. 185. 25s.)

Review by:
H. E.W. Hardenberg

This is a most stimulating and refreshing book. 'A short account of the development and theory of psychotherapy' would be a more accurate title.

The author's approach is that of a naturalist who arranges and labels his specimens on the bench and then critically and sympathetically looks at them and wonders how they work. Inevitably this produces a rather flattened look in the specimens. For example, in describing psycho-analysis, major and fundamental features, such as the distinction between psychic and external reality or the value of dream interpretation, are stressed no more than any other of its features. Nevertheless it is sometimes useful to see how acute differences between psychotherapeutic systems look to an external observer, and we see the Freudian, Post-Freudian, Jungian, and Adlerian approaches displayed before us. Not content with this, there is a glance at group psycho-therapy, child psychotherapy, and psycho-somatic medicine.

The advantage of this book is that the author has some new ways of examining his material. He is clearly trying to understand as well as describe, and to see whether some new words—such as techniques, sub-techniques, facilitants, etc.—will help.

What is needed, and perhaps will be supplied in the next edition, is an examination of objectives, in this case health and ill-health. The history of the changing concepts of being well and of being sick, of the changing rôles of doctor and patient, of analyst and analysand, together with the changing expectations from therapy during the past fifty years, needs still to be written. And to give body to this history something must be written of the changing methods and requirements of the training of psycho-therapists.

The author rightly dislikes psycho-therapy sheltering under the name of art or science. It is, he says, a technique—or as Trotter would say, a practical art—and, as such, may be examined without undue mystery or awe. Nevertheless techniques gradually lead to a respectable body of knowledge and theory which can be brought into the general body of the biological sciences.

Altogether an interesting and worthwhile book.

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