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Shengold, L. (1967). Roots of Modern Psychiatry. Essays in the History of Psychiatry: By Mark D. Altschule, M.D. New York: Grune & Stratton, Inc., 1965. 208 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 36:126.

(1967). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 36:126

Roots of Modern Psychiatry. Essays in the History of Psychiatry: By Mark D. Altschule, M.D. New York: Grune & Stratton, Inc., 1965. 208 pp.

Review by:
Leonard Shengold

The author unfortunately appears to lack the qualities of discrimination essential for a historian of ideas. His idea of history seems to be that of Lord Chesterton for whom history was a confused heap of facts. Striving to derive lessons from the past, he succeeds only in such observations as there is nothing new under the sun. History here is mainly a chronology intended to disparage Freud and psychoanalysis. Excerpts from philosophers and psychologists are strung together indiscriminately to refer to concepts which are not defined, but are left to languish inchoate; until a time when 'modern physiology and experimental psychology … [will] provide the data for a valid theory of behavior'.

'Perhaps nowadays', the author tells us, 'there actually is more interest in sex than in earlier years. Today the urge towards muscular exercise, instinctive in men not yet in middle age, cannot be easily satisfied in urban America; sexual intercourse is the only form of vigorous exercise that can still be conveniently indulged in by the adult male inhabitants of American cities.' History is unwittingly served by the book. It demonstrates the confusion in psychiatry that existed before psychoanalysis, and what psychiatry would now be without the clinical observations and basic organizing concepts of Freud.

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