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Posinsky, S.H. (1960). Medicine and Anthropology. The New York Academy of Medicine Lectures to the Laity, No. XXI: Edited by Iago Galdston, M.D. New York: International Universities Press, Inc., 1959. 165 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 29:270-271.

(1960). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 29:270-271

Medicine and Anthropology. The New York Academy of Medicine Lectures to the Laity, No. XXI: Edited by Iago Galdston, M.D. New York: International Universities Press, Inc., 1959. 165 pp.

Review by:
S. H. Posinsky

The contributors to this book have cast a net which is vast enough to encompass the planet, but the catch consists mostly of small fish and large platitudes.

Since medicine has become 'much less of a humanistic pursuit and more of a scientific-technologic discipline', and since it no longer treats 'the whole man' or views him in historical and sociocultural perspective, it is expected that the humanities and social sciences can correct this imbalance. Certainly the phenomenal increase in medical knowledge during the present century cannot be decried, even if this has resulted in types of specialization and 'mechanization' which were alien to the philosopher-physician of earlier times.

For better or worse, specialization has its roots in science and society. Where 'mechanization' leaves a gap in the doctor-patient relationship, the space is taken up to a considerable extent by psychotherapy, which does concern itself with 'the whole man' and his milieu.

Several subdivisions of anthropology, itself highly specialized, can offer valuable insights and data to certain branches of medicine. It is also desirable for humanists and social scientists to serve as co-researchers in any problem where medicine alone is inadequate; but in this instance they have been invited to become consultants, if not dei ex machina, to the medical profession as a whole and to the human race. However, as Firth notes, 'We anthropologists sometimes may have to be cautious lest some of our more enthusiastic medical friends flatter us into thinking we are greater than we know'.

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