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Ruitenbeek, H.M. (1965). Passion and Social Constraint: By Ernest van den Haag. (New York: Stein and Day, 1963; Delta, 1965. Pp. 368. $6.95; Paper, $1.95.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 46:395-396.

(1965). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 46:395-396

Passion and Social Constraint: By Ernest van den Haag. (New York: Stein and Day, 1963; Delta, 1965. Pp. 368. $6.95; Paper, $1.95.)

Review by:
Hendrik M. Ruitenbeek

Passion and Social Constraint presents some aspects of the interplay of personality, culture, and society in present-day America and analyses some of the dynamics of that interplay. Readers of this Journal will be particularly interested in the first section, which deals with personality and presents some familiar concepts of its development in a way which makes Freudian theory clear, without talking down to a non-professional audience. He is particularly skilful in restating a sophisticated conservatism based upon Freudian theory:

One of the faults found most emphatically with Freud's theory is his insistence on the limitation of man's nature and on the tragic nature of human destiny. Dissenters favor a more positive view which finds human nature indefinitely malleable and infinitely perfectible. By reforming society, conditioning, or psychoanalysis, they hope to make this not only the best of all possible worlds but also a good world … Freud, like St. Augustine, maintains that human nature includes evil and bears the seed of its own corruption … It seems worthwhile to define those avoidable life experiences likely to lead to destructiveness and to attempt to minimize them, and further, to rechannel destructiveness toward the least harmful goals. It seems idle to expect more than moderate and occasional success … There is no evidence to show that sizable societies can exist without stratification. None has. There is also no evidence to show that any particular system is indispensable …

Change may be possible but not desirable, desirable but not possible, and in no case will social change accomplish all that its proponents hope and struggle for: man is a limited creature and his nature presents problems which cannot be totally resolved.


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