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Murphy, W.F. (1949). Hypnotism Comes of Age: By Bernard Wolfe and Raymond Rosenthal. Indianapolis and New York: Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1948. 272 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 18:109-111.

(1949). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 18:109-111

Hypnotism Comes of Age: By Bernard Wolfe and Raymond Rosenthal. Indianapolis and New York: Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1948. 272 pp.

Review by:
William F. Murphy

This book is written for the layman in a popular-science-magazine style, and purports to give a factual account of the historical development and progress in the medical use of hypnotism from Mesmer to Wolberg. The best of the modern literature on this subject has been admirably condensed and a well-chosen bibliography of seventy-one items is appended. The main interest of the authors is in the promise of hypnotism for the future in the field of hypnoanalysis, and it is very plain that they are fascinated by what they feel is an excitingly new short-term psychotherapy. Here at last is a treatment which only takes sixty to one hundred ninety hours as compared with 'orthodox analysis which, at its best, takes three to four years with the patient going three to four hourly sessions a week'. This is reminiscent of the Men Against Death series by Paul DeKruif, and brings to mind the old German proverb, 'All that is new is not true; and all that is true is not new'.

That hypnoanalysis and narcoanalysis have made authentic contributions to short-term psychotherapy was attested by the capable work done by Grinker and Spiegel during the war. Drugs can also be effective at times in dealing with more orthodox psychiatric conditions, as shown for example by Kubie and Margolin. However, it cannot be sufficiently stressed that drugs and hypnosis, to be at all effective, must be used as adjuncts to a primarily psychoanalytically oriented therapy. No amount of drugs or hypnosis can be substituted for a knowledge of and experience in dynamic psychiatry. The clinical problems involved in the handling of such factors as working through, isolation, acting out, etc., are not eliminated and can be successfully met only in proportion to the training and inherent abilities of the doctor. The better this training has been accomplished and the greater the inherent abilities, the less need there is for these adjuncts.

It is possible that abreaction alone without complete intellectual integration is of value in the therapy of acute traumatic neuroses, but it is very doubtful that this holds true in other cases, including the chronic traumatic neuroses. As for abreaction for abreaction's sake, too often in this type of therapy transference simply means seduction.

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