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Hendrick, I. (1933). Outwitting our Nerves: By Josephine Jackson and Helen M. Salisbury. Second Edition, Enlarged and Revised. New York: The Century Company, 1932. 420 p.. Psychoanal Q., 2:169-170.

(1933). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 2:169-170

Outwitting our Nerves: By Josephine Jackson and Helen M. Salisbury. Second Edition, Enlarged and Revised. New York: The Century Company, 1932. 420 p.

Review by:
Ives Hendrick

The first edition of this book, of which one hundred thousand copies were sold, appeared in 1921, just at the time when the mental hygiene movement was gathering momentum. It is not difficult to believe that the book's simplicity of style and avoidance of words technical and "nasty" gained for it the popularity it enjoyed among untrained and naive readers. Its argument that psychoneuroses are definite disease processes, requiring skilled medical attention and implying no disgrace, is valuable. It is unfortunate, however, that the book creates an impression of ease and universality of psychotherapeutic success far beyond actual achievements.

Psychoanalysts will appreciate the authors' extensive acknowledgment of Freud, a virtue too rare among those who attempt to present his ideas while altering his vocabulary. Nevertheless, if the authors had been analysts themselves, such statements as these would not have been penned: "transference is a state of rapport between physician and patient"; and, "psychoanalysis is merely (sic!) a technical process for discovering repressed complexes and bringing them into consciousness". The authors, however, show a fairly adequate knowledge of the earliest analytic literature in their elementary exposition of the etiology of psychoneuroses; for example, they do not confuse primary and secondary gains. There are minor errors, such as that "shell-shock" is generally cured by analysis. The rôles of hatred, bisexuality, and the anus are not mentioned; Freud's contribution to the etiology of neurasthenia is ignored. The actual therapeutic implications of analysis are in the main only lip-service, except for references to the analysis of a few hysterical symptoms in terms of adult trauma, and insistence that knowledge of the unconscious is sometimes a valuable starting point for "reëducation".

The senior author shows that her clinical experience is abundant, and that she possesses a therapeutic personality marked by enthusiasm and confidence in teaching the "mastery of nerves". The discrepancy between her theory and practice is apparent, however, in the confusion of psychoneuroses with their symptoms, for her therapy is symptomatic.

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