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Overholser, W. (1943). Thoughts of a Psychiatrist on the War and after: By William A. White, M.D. Washington, D. C.: The William Alanson White Psychiatric Foundation, Inc., 1942. 28 pp. (Originally copyrighted by Paul B. Hoeber in 1919.). Psychoanal Q., 12:571-572.
(1943). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 12:571-572
Thoughts of a Psychiatrist on the War and after: By William A. White, M.D. Washington, D. C.: The William Alanson White Psychiatric Foundation, Inc., 1942. 28 pp. (Originally copyrighted by Paul B. Hoeber in 1919.)
Review by: Winfred Overholser
One of the marks of the true philosopher is his timelessness, his enunciation of basic truths which are applicable when uttered, or a quarter of a century later. Of those who have contributed to the literature of psychiatry, William Alanson White stands out as one who not only saw fundamental truths, but expressed them eloquently and effectively. In 1919, at the close of World War I, he published a little book, long since out of print, in which he portrayed most felicitously the psychiatric philosophy of war. The Foundation which bears his name has placed the country in its debt by reprinting this volume at a time when the whole world is again rocked by war; its applicability to the present happenings is startling indeed.
The chapter headings are in themselves suggestive, and indicate the scope of the work: The Social Perspective; Psychology of Conflict; Integration of Social Groups; Psychological Effects of War; Psychological Causes of War; Some Tendencies Quickened by War; Individualism Versus Socialism; The Socially Handicapped. A summary of each chapter would be worth reading, but the style is so packed with meaning and substance that no summary could do it justice.
The phenomena of conflict, of integration and of regression, are extended by the author from the individual to the group. Just as certain nations, he says, are in a relatively immature state of integration, so, a fortiori, is a league of nations infantile and immature, even though the constituent nations may be individually advanced. 'Lying and deceit of all kinds are pretty well tabooed as types of individual reaction, but they are still in evidence in the diplomatic inter-relations between nations.'
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