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Wangh, M. (1969). The Eleventh Hour—Book Review Essay on Sanity and Survival. Psychoanal Q., 38:463-472.

(1969). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 38:463-472

The Eleventh Hour—Book Review Essay on Sanity and Survival

Martin Wangh, M.D.

'We have got to understand, as we never understood before, why it is, psychologically and biologically, that men and nations fight.' Thus Senator J. William Fulbright cries out in the Introduction to this book by Jerome D. Frank. Rarely do we find a political figure urging us to the study of a particular scientific book. However, Senator Fulbright is a rare man, and the present condition of mankind is such that the usual isolation of the scientific world from the pragmatic social world is a luxury which, if indulged, may lead still in our time to the end of our present civilization. Alas, this 'at-handness' of absolute disaster has not yet been fully grasped by many—politicians, scientists, and plain citizens. At least so it would seem, unless we remind ourselves of the constant, insidiously infiltrative power which denial wields over man's perceiving and thinking. Indeed, this is the chief merit of Dr. Frank's exposition: directly confronting our denial, he persists in keeping us face to face with the enormity of mankind's presently available self-destructive power. He does not allow himself to be beguiled by the 'computer-izers' who still think in terms of traditional warfare, with attack and retaliation—even though they reckon the victims in the millions. This has to be stressed all the more as recent revelations about the tank-accumulated stores of poison gas indicate that billions of people could be turned into corpses at one 'dusting' (New York Times Magazine, August 25, 1968). Frank—and Fulbright supports him—thinks that the traditional system of intersocial conflict and population regulation, of which war may hitherto have been a vital part, cannot be salvaged; other regulators of human conflict and intraspecies aggression will have to be found.


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