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Grotjahn, M. (1949). Father Land. A Study of Authoritarianism in the German Family: By Bertram Schaffner, M.D. New York: Columbia University Press, 1948. 203 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 18:253-254.

(1949). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 18:253-254

Father Land. A Study of Authoritarianism in the German Family: By Bertram Schaffner, M.D. New York: Columbia University Press, 1948. 203 pp.

Review by:
Martin Grotjahn

In a somewhat apologetic introduction Margaret Mead introduces the author as a 'young psychiatrist' who applies the hypothesis that family life may be used as a key to the understanding of a cultural character—'authoritarianism'. David M. Levy adds his hope 'for further psychiatric investigation on this topic'. Referring to the 'German mentality', Levy states what now sounds outdated: '… the primary requirement' for winning the peace 'is an understanding of the psychology of the German people. The modification of that psychology is the main task of Military Government.'

Perhaps this reviewer, with thirty-three years of his life spent in Germany, should have disqualified himself to report on this book. However, even a reader less handicapped by a representative German background will be appalled by the misuse of a technique initiated by Freud in Totem and Taboo, later applied with considerable skill by Wilhelm Reich in his analytic interpretation of German Fascism, and later applied in a modified form by Margaret Mead. Schaffner's book collects all possible clichés concerning The German Family, The German Mother, The German Father, The Anti-Nazi German, culminating in a chapter called, The American Soldier as Educator. 'The German father lays so much stress upon respect for his authority that he actually may sacrifice other familial values in order to maintain it. The American father tends to assume the authoritative rôle because there is a need for some one "in charge" and he is usually the logical one to have such authority.'

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