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Freedman, D.A. (1977). Understanding Other Persons: Edited by Theodore Mischel. Totowa, New Jersey: Rowman and Littlefield, 1974. 266 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 46:698-700.

(1977). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 46:698-700

Understanding Other Persons: Edited by Theodore Mischel. Totowa, New Jersey: Rowman and Littlefield, 1974. 266 pp.

Review by:
David A. Freedman

To read from time to time a volume of psychologically oriented essays which have no relation to the psychoanalytic point of view can be enlightening. It is in this spirit—that is, as an opportunity to explore "how the other half thinks"—that the present volume can be recommended. Not the least of its virtues, in this regard, is its underscoring of the depth and persistence of the behavioristic/phenomenalistic/positivistic point of view among the philosophers and academic psychologists even of today. Apparently, it is only in the relatively recent past that this orientation has been seriously questioned by large numbers of students of behavior. For this reviewer, at least, it comes as a sobering discovery that many thinkers in psychology still do not find it possible to deal comfortably with the fact of intrapsychic processes.

How to account for this "psychic amaurosis" among obviously intelligent, thoughtful people is a question the analyst reading such essays as these cannot avoid. A cognitive factor which may have some explanatory significance is the lack on the part of any of the authors of direct personal experience in the clinical management of disturbed individuals. These writers are academic psychologists and educators. For the clinician their cogitations have the quality of armchair speculations without the corrective modulation of exposure to problems of the real world. It is of more than passing interest that for them the point of departure—the origins of the impetus which has belatedly led them to consider such issues as how to account for empathic capacity and the operation of internalized representations—does not include a consideration of the findings of psychoanalysis.

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