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Murphy, W.F. (1952). Principles of General Psychopathology. Psychoanal Q., 21:247-250.

(1952). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 21:247-250

Principles of General Psychopathology

Review by:
William F. Murphy

By Siegfried Fischer, M.D. New York: Philosophical Library, Inc., 1950. 327 pp.

MODERN ABNORMAL PSYCHOLOGY. Edited by William H. Mikesell, Ph.D. New York: Philosophical Library, Inc., 1950. 880 pp.

THE THRESHOLD OF THE ABNORMAL. By Werner Wolff. New York: Hermitage House, Inc., 1950. 473 pp.

The reasons that impel those interested in the field of abnormal psychology to write so many textbooks, basic surveys, and symposiums dealing with this subject are as interesting and as varied as the books themselves, and among other things a reflection, perhaps, of an almost universal difficulty in dealing with and comprehending the immense outpouring of literature dealing with the human psyche.

Although all three of these books are surveys of psychopathology, they are quite different from one another in their approach to the subject and its comprehension. The Principles of General Psychopathology, by Siegfried Fischer, is representative of the attempt of a brilliant but descriptively and statically oriented clinician to organize and systematize his own knowledge, resolve his own doubts, and gain support for his own interpretations. There is an attempt to clarify and reduce everything to common sense which is done, essentially, by remaining at a descriptive level; accordingly, with neurological syndromes, the author is at his best. Part I, which deals with the fundamentals of psychopathological concepts, including perception, thought, memory, and attention, and its disturbances, is well written and leaves little room for criticism aside from the fact that the style tends to be stilted and replete with German words that for some odd reason must not be translated—for instance, 'Sachverhalte' which appears well over a dozen times. The second part of the book, which is on the psychology and psychopathology of comprehensible connections, is decidedly uneven and not very comprehensible.

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