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Lanes, S. (1967). Frustration. The Development of a Scientific Concept: By Reed Lawson. New York: The Macmillan Co., 1965. 192 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 36:458-459.

(1967). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 36:458-459

Frustration. The Development of a Scientific Concept: By Reed Lawson. New York: The Macmillan Co., 1965. 192 pp.

Review by:
Samuel Lanes

This monograph is one of the paperback source books in The Critical Issues in Psychology Series which presents authoritative data for the 'undergraduate in psychology'. However, the author, Associate Professor of Psychology at Ohio State University, not only addresses himself to this class of student but to all students of psychology. And therefore it is indeed of undoubted value. The contents are divided into two parts; the first section evolves the concept (frustration) as a scientific construct and the second section presents selected readings on the subject. The bibliography is comprehensive.

The book clearly delineates the difficulties, importance, and beneficial use of familiar terms in the development of a scientific psychology. After reviewing the experimental work and theories on frustration (such as Rosensweig, Miller, and Maier and Ellen), the author shows how a scientifically useful concept develops out of a prescientific idea. Vernacular terms must be redefined for the evolution of theoretical and empirical concepts because 'the purpose of scientific theory is not to re-create the superficial chaos of nature but to describe the specific underlying relationships involved in complex situations'. Frustration 'may be defined as what is done to an organism; it may be used to explain relationships between a specific class of natecedents and class of consequent behaviors'.

The psychoanalyst will find it of interest to learn that more precise or exact definitions of these 'layman's terms' may lead to a different vocabulary and to more useful concepts to be used in psychotherapy, which is thereby enabled to progress in a more scientific way.

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