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Anthony, E.J. (1972). Family Process: Edited by Nathan W. Ackerman. New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1970. 431 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 41:291-293.

(1972). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 41:291-293

Family Process: Edited by Nathan W. Ackerman. New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1970. 431 pp.

Review by:
E. James Anthony, M.D.

This, says the editor tactfully, is not an anthology of 'best papers' but a collage of competently designed ones culled from multidisciplinary sources. It is in the nature of a Festschrift for a young movement that has good reason to celebrate its extraordinary growth within a short period of time. Like so many historical movements in their early days, there is a feeling of freshness and enthusiasm about much of the writing as if the exponents were self-consciously aware of their position in the vanguard of a new development. The editor, as major prophet, is entitled to his apocalyptic conception of this 'new vision of man and of the Family of Man'.

In keeping with the related movements dealing with individuals and groups, its theory is a by-product of therapy for the most part, the concepts being conceived in treatment and thereafter grafted to the framework of ideas. The result is a patchwork, with some parts a little more patchy than others. To make systematic and cohesive sense of the whole field demands the comprehensive genius of a Freud, and lacking this it remains, like the proverbial curate's egg, 'good in parts'. Characteristic of the shortcomings of a young movement, it is deficient in self-criticism and self-examination of disadvantages, liabilities, and failures.

The strengths are easy to detect in a volume as inclusive as this one. Family therapy is a reasonably effective short-term treatment especially under conditions of crisis such as the impact of mental illness on a family or extended family.

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