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Bech, E.B. (1949). Trends in Social Work: By Frank J. Bruno. New York: Columbia University Press, 1948. 387 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 18:255-256.

(1949). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 18:255-256

Trends in Social Work: By Frank J. Bruno. New York: Columbia University Press, 1948. 387 pp.

Review by:
Elisabeth Brockett Bech

Mr. Frank J. Bruno is Emeritus Head of the Department of Social Work at Washington University, St. Louis, has spent forty years in the practice and teaching of social work and is a current contributor to periodicals. This book was an assignment, authorized in 1945, by the Executive Committee of the National Conference of Social Work. The Conference limited the author to recounting in three hundred pages its own development during the seventy-two years of its existence. The only bibliography is the publication, Proceedings of the National Conference of Social Work.

The first two chapters give interesting accounts of the personalities of the founders and the beginnings of the National Conference; the last chapter pictures its influence throughout the nation and mentions the leading officers during nearly three quarters of a century. The material is divided into three periods: from 1874 to 1898; from 1898 to 1924; from 1924 to 1946.

Mr. Bruno's task was no small undertaking and he is to be highly commended for his scholarly and enjoyable style. That his work will evoke both positive and negative reactions will be no surprise to him for, in his preface, he remarks, 'No one could possible be more aware than the author of the limitations of the book… In each period those topics are included which seemed to be prominent in the minds of the Conference members, but no effort was made to follow any particular topic into the next period, or through all three of them.' Just as the decision about emphasis or omission is based on his own knowledge, so the reviewer is subject to a similar influence by interest and experience. To this psychiatric social worker, Bruno's treatment of the deep influence of psychoanalysis on case work is superficial. He disposes of this matter in two quotations, and those dated 1935. One finds in one of his early chapters (p. 149) an inaccurate description of psychiatric social work among the mentally ill: 'psychiatric social service, on a professional basis … is given after release (of the patient from the hospital) and ignores the great value involved in creating a sound public opinion by inducing the patient's relatives and neighbors to share the process of restoring the patient to such place in society as he is capable of filling'. The chapter on the evolution of case work is skilfully organized but is only a stimulus

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