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Blank, H.R. (1967). Thinking without Language. Psychological Implications of Deafness: By Hans G. Furth. New York: The Free Press, 1966. 236 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 36:617-619.

(1967). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 36:617-619

Thinking without Language. Psychological Implications of Deafness: By Hans G. Furth. New York: The Free Press, 1966. 236 pp.

Review by:
H. Robert Blank

Professor of Psychology at the Catholic University of America and Director of its Center for Research in Thinking and Language, Furth has provided an instructive and challenging book.

Concise chapters are devoted to historical considerations and current problems in work with the deaf, psycholinguistics, theories of cognition, and experimental methodology. A series of ingeniously conceived experiments are reported; for example, on cognitive functions of deaf children as compared with normal and mentally retarded children, and on memory and perception with hearing and deaf adolescents. Studies of identical twins are critically reviewed.

These impressive clinical and experimental findings lend support to the hypothesis that 'intellectual functioning cannot depend basically upon language'. The severe linguistic incompetence of most congenitally deaf persons (and those deafened in childhood before the attainment of verbal competence) and their meager numbers among college students and in the professions are not attributable to inexorable crippling effects of deafness on the development of the intellectual functions. Some limited experience with deaf children and schools for the deaf also support Furth's conviction that their severe difficulties in learning and other problems are results of the imposition on them and their families of frustrating verbal language standards and 'oral' educational techniques in schools for the deaf.

Furth recommends that the mothers of deaf infants be taught sign language which the infants can easily learn. This is essential for a normal development of their object relationships, curiosity, and self-esteem.

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