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Esman, A.H. (1982). Psyche and Society. Explorations in Psychoanalytic Sociology: By Robert Endleman. New York: Columbia University Press, 1981. 465 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 51:469-470.

(1982). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 51:469-470

Psyche and Society. Explorations in Psychoanalytic Sociology: By Robert Endleman. New York: Columbia University Press, 1981. 465 pp.

Review by:
Aaron H. Esman

For decades interested parties have sought, with indifferent success, to arrange a marriage between psychoanalysis and the social sciences. The difficulty, as Robert Endleman, a psychoanalytically trained sociologist, explains in this rather curious book, has been either the pretension of each discipline to "imperialism," in which it seeks to impose its frame of reference on the other, or "separation," in which each has insisted on the purity and immiscibility of its own doctrines. Endleman's stated aim is to arrive at an "integrationist" position whose fundamental propositions are these:

1. Any social science requires an underlying psychology of the individual human being, essentially a psychology of the nature of human nature, and

2. Any adequate psychology of human beings also requires an understanding of social processes and of the patterns and processes of culture and how these in turn affect the individual human personality (p. 15).

Illustrative examples of such "integrationists" are anthropologists Róheim, La Barre, Devereux, Anne Parsons, and Muensterberger (whom Endleman erroneously describes as a non-clinician).

In pursuit of his own effort at "integration," Endleman attempts no less than an explanatory account of human evolution, drawing from a wide range of sources in paleontology and evolutionary biology as well as from his own chosen fields to account, more or less plausibly, for the evolutionary emergence of such human characteristics as bipedal locomotion, language, the frontal coital position, the oedipus complex, and the incest taboo. He emerges, in his own terms, with a rewritten Totem and Taboo, devoid of Freud's Lamarckianism and resting instead on Róheim's concepts of cultural origins and intergenerational transmission. This reviewer is not competent to assess the sociological data, but Endleman does appear to be knowing and effective in his application of psychoanalytic concepts and developmental theory. One can question some of his formulations and syntheses—particularly his account of the frontal coital position as a return to the primal nursing posture—but his ideas are challenging and his scholarship is impressive.


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