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Gorer, G. (1962). The Psychoanalytic Study of Society: Vol. I. Edited by Warner Muensterberger and Sidney Axelrad. (New York: Int. Univ. Press, 1960. Pp. 384. $7.50.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 43:188-191.

(1962). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 43:188-191

The Psychoanalytic Study of Society: Vol. I. Edited by Warner Muensterberger and Sidney Axelrad. (New York: Int. Univ. Press, 1960. Pp. 384. $7.50.)

Review by:
Geoffrey Gorer

In a prefatory note the editors explain why they have changed the title of the series from Psychoanalysis and the Social Sciences, which was that chosen by the late Géza Róheim, to The Psychoanalytic Study of Society:

In former years' [they write] 'it was the psycho-analyst who, using the data and hypotheses derived from his clinical observation, would deal with problems and issues which were within the provinces of the humanities and the social sciences. Today, there is an increasing trend among social scientists to examine problems and aspects of social structure, of culture and of institutions, making use of the concepts and propositions of psycho-analysis. It is this shift which has necessitated the change in title.

The implications of this paragraph are, perhaps unintentionally, extremely revealing about the present relationship between psycho-analysis and the social sciences. A number of contemporary social scientists, perhaps particularly social anthropologists, have submitted themselves to the discipline of learning about psycho-analysis by systematic study and, often, by undergoing a personal analysis. But with very few exceptions—besides the late Géza Róheim, the names of Erik Erikson, George Devereux, and Prince Peter of Greece come to mind—psycho-analysts have not shown parallel humility; they have not made any systematic study of the literature of contemporary social sciences; nor, despite the vicissitudes of their lives which have often entailed emigration, have they submitted themselves to the systematic study of an unknown society, an experience which has many analogues with a personal analysis in the permanent change of focus which it produces.

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