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Ross, N. (1943). The Successful Error: By Rudolf Allers, M.D., Ph.D. New York: Sheed & Ward, 1940. 266 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 12:409-411.

(1943). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 12:409-411

The Successful Error: By Rudolf Allers, M.D., Ph.D. New York: Sheed & Ward, 1940. 266 pp.

Review by:
Nathaniel Ross

Rudolph Allers is no mean adversary, and it would be trivial to dismiss his attack upon psychoanalysis simply because he is an impassioned Catholic. Nevertheless, we need not take too literally his protestations of scientific objectivity, however well implemented by great erudition they may be. A man who condemns psychoanalysis as a heresy, however casuistically he may justify such an epithet, can hardly expect to be considered objective except by the faithful. His book appears to have been designed to stifle the influence exerted upon Catholics by the views of Dalbiez, Maritain and the Adler of previous years. The psychoanalyst, in Aller's words, 'cannot help transmitting to his patient the contagion of an anti-Christian spirit'. 'One has to conclude that a Catholic ought to beware of getting too close a contact with Freudian ideas … he ought to be warned away.'

Allers presents the 'basic notions of psychoanalysis' fairly accurately as far as he goes but significantly fails to describe Freud's concept of the personality as a functioning whole. He then makes an attack on the structure of psychoanalysis based on this omission and accuses Freud of a kind of atomistic disintegration of the 'person' (in the philosophic sense), meanwhile assuring his readers that this view of the personality has long since been given up by most psychologists!

True to his scholastic bias, Allers presents certain a priori objections which he claims invalidate the methods of psychoanalysis.

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