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Murphy, W.F. (1953). Psychiatry and Catholicism: By The Reverend James H. Vander Veldt, O.F.M., Ph.D. and Robert P. Odenwald, M.D., F.A.P.A. New York, Toronto, London: McGraw-Hill Book Co., Inc., 1952. 433 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 22:580-586.

(1953). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 22:580-586

Psychiatry and Catholicism: By The Reverend James H. Vander Veldt, O.F.M., Ph.D. and Robert P. Odenwald, M.D., F.A.P.A. New York, Toronto, London: McGraw-Hill Book Co., Inc., 1952. 433 pp.

Review by:
William F. Murphy

The title of this book should be Psychoanalysis and Catholicism, as the greater part of the book deals with the problems posed by the reluctant acceptance by the Church of the concepts of the unconscious. The inferences are more important than the actual admissions, the gist of which is that psychoanalytic techniques are undeniably effective and acceptable but that much of psychoanalytic 'philosophy' is pernicious. The authors state that their remarks are aimed at giving the nonprofessional reader a general understanding of psychiatry, and of psychotherapy in particular. The book is addressed primarily to a Catholic audience and bears the approval of Archbishop O'Boyle of Washington, D. C. The ambivalence and hesitation over psychoanalytic concepts are understandable inasmuch as acceptance means a break with the tradition that persisted from the time of Hippocrates that the mind was eternal and untouchable, and that only the body could interfere with its functioning. In this respect, this book must be considered important and forward-looking.

Psychoanalysis and Catholicism may in many respects be considered similar. Both consist of a body of techniques which have been found extremely practical in helping people to adapt themselves to this world, and both have a substratum of philosophical concepts which must be taken on faith. One has the trinity of the ego, id, and superego; the other, that of the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost. In philosophy, both are essentially dualistic in their concepts of the struggle that goes on between God and the devil or libido and destrudo, and both tend to be authoritarian.

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