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Beldoch, M. (1973). The Science of Behavior and the Image of Man: By Isidor Chein. New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1972. 347 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 42:475-476.

(1973). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 42:475-476

The Science of Behavior and the Image of Man: By Isidor Chein. New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1972. 347 pp.

Review by:
Michael Beldoch

Professor Chein's book is exceptionally ambitious in its scope. Among other topics it deals with the nature of man, the nature of reality, the meaning of freedom, and the function of science. Its sixteen chapters include those with such titles as Man or Robot, Behavior, Mind, and Related Concepts, Some Reflections on Reality, and Verity vs. Truth in the Scientific Enterprise. It is primarily a philosophical work addressed to professional psychologists and especially to those engaged in research. Written at a time when, according to Chein, the movement in academic psychology is still in behavioral revolt against E. B. Titchener (1867-1927) and the latter's concern with consciousness and experience, the book is likely to be read as an 'answer' to B. F. Skinner's recent Beyond Freedom and Dignity. As such it will be of little interest to psychoanalysts who hardly need philosophical or research support to understand the limitations of Skinner's position.

Chein does make considerable use of psychoanalytic language and concepts in attempting to marshal arguments in favor of a humanistic definition of man and science. Two of his chapters are titled Ego and Superego, and The Id, but the arguments contained therein range very broadly and do not follow any psychoanalytically coherent form. Some readers may object to the occasionally dogmatic language the author employs, as when he asserts that 'the moral aspect of human nature is as much contained in the ego as in the superego', or when he describes the theory of the repetition-compulsion as 'an abortion' that led Freud into 'conceptual disaster'.

The primary focus of Chein's polemic is the scientific enterprise itself as practiced by American academic psychology.

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