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Saul, L.J. (1949). Basic Principles of Psychoanalysis: By A. A. Brill, M.D., With an Introduction by Philip R. Lehrman, M.D. New York: Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1949. 298 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 18:498-499.

(1949). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 18:498-499

Basic Principles of Psychoanalysis: By A. A. Brill, M.D., With an Introduction by Philip R. Lehrman, M.D. New York: Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1949. 298 pp.

Review by:
Leon J. Saul

With this book, carried to completion after Dr. Brill's death by Dr. Lehrman, Dr. Brill has left us another of his inimitable expositions, written in his characteristic clear and witty style. The book is developed from material used in a course given to a group, at New York University, interested in problems of education and psychology. It is essentially a popular presentation of psychoanalysis using examples from the author's own vast experience.

The author points out the virtues, but also the limitations, of psychoanalysis. He believes that it will be most important in prevention, since its field of usefulness as a therapeutic agent is very limited. 'It cannot cure cancer, it cannot make an adjustable citizen out of a defective "radical", it cannot return an errant young husband to a neurotic elderly lady, it has no more to do with the separation of mismated couples than a microscope with the dissolution of tissues… But it has already rewritten all the mental sciences, and in the hands of trained psychiatrists it can cure the most chronic psychoneurotic affections. Moreover, the knowledge gained through it is developing a prophylaxis, which will not only diminish nervous and mental diseases but will establish newer methods in our system of education'.

The book follows a historic exposition of psychoanalysis beginning with the cathartic method of Breuer and Freud, tracing their earlier reasoning through to an appreciation of the unconscious motivation of symptoms. Following this, there is discussed the psychology of forgetting, the psychopathology of everyday life, dreams, and the common forms of psychoses. The individual neuroses are not discussed systematically. A chapter is devoted to the only child and the special problems it faces while growing up and in later life. There is also a chapter on fairy tales and artistic production, and one on the selection of vocations.

Freud is the only author referred to in the book. Later developments in relation to medicine, for example, psychosomatic studies, or explorations in relation to sociology and anthropology, and the general movement of psychoanalysis in the direction of integration

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