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McLean, F.C. (1939). Fearfully and Wonderfully Made: The Human Organism in the Light of Modern Science. By Renée von Eulenburg-Wiener. New York: The Macmillan Co., 1938. 472 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 8:400-401.
  

(1939). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 8:400-401

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made: The Human Organism in the Light of Modern Science. By Renée von Eulenburg-Wiener. New York: The Macmillan Co., 1938. 472 pp.

Review by:
Franklin C. McLean

In spite of its title and the obvious attempt to capitalize upon popular interest in scientific subjects, this is no book for the 'layman who wishes to know more about the human organism'. It is too difficult reading, and such usefulness as it might have in this respect is obscured by the argument which 'runs like a guiding thread through the book'.

Nor need this argument, which forms the real purpose of the book, be taken too seriously. The attempt is to substitute the newer concepts of atomic physics for the older concepts of matter, and so to construct a new biology. This ambitious effort boils down to two assertions: first that the characteristics of molecules are determined by the electro-magnetic fields set up within them, and second that life is characterized by the asymmetry of the bio-molecule, the specificity of the processes of life resting upon this asymmetric configuration. In the final chapter the effort is made to apply this argument to such phenomena as aging, death, fatigue, memory, rest and sleep, emotions, recovery, thought and consciousness.

It makes some sense to think of the specific properties of the proteins, for example, as expressions of the complex energetics of the molecule, rather than solely in terms of structure. But beyond this it is hardly possible to go. The specific properties of gold and of lead are functions of the energetics of the atoms, but this statement explains nothing. Much less does it explain or even describe life to say that it is a function of the electro-magnetic fields of the asymmetric bio-molecule. For these reasons the argument as a whole is forced and in many respects meaningless. As a contribution to an understanding of the higher functions of the organism it seems wholly without value.

It

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