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Kaplan, D.M. (1964-65). The Influence of Freud on American Psychology. By David Shakow and David Rapaport. Psychological Issues Monograph No. 13. New York: International Universities Press, 1964. pp. 243.. Psychoanal. Rev., 51D(4):134-135.

(1964-65). Psychoanalytic Review, 51D(4):134-135

Book Reviews

The Influence of Freud on American Psychology. By David Shakow and David Rapaport. Psychological Issues Monograph No. 13. New York: International Universities Press, 1964. pp. 243.

Review by:
Donald M. Kaplan

In 1955 David Rapaport was approached by Heinz Hartmann to write a chapter on the influence of Freud on American psychology for a centenary volume Hartmann was then preparing. Familiar with David Shakow's competence with the subject, Rapaport went on to invite Shakow to collaborate on the chapter. The chapter never appeared. A draft was completed, but the collaborators were dissatisfied. The subject was too large for a chapter and they proceeded to do a monograph. Off and on, for the next five years, they worked together on the project. A final revision was barely completed when Rapaport died. Deprived of a co-worker who was perhaps the leading student of psychoanalysis, Shakow struggled on alone for two more years and completed the monograph. Suffice it to say, he discharged a cruel responsibility heroically. The monograph is extraordinarily good.

The authors had set themselves no less a task than a detailed description of the early reception of Freud's theories and their subsequent infiltration of the zeitgeist of American academic psychology. They begin with a discussion of the very problem of assessing an influence of a revolutionary theory upon an academic establishment. Freud's influence was often indirect and anonymous. Notions existed which were parallel to Freud's interest; when was Freud's influence a novel force, when was it synergetic? And what are the possible ways for a theory to gain attention? There is a terse comparison of the initial receptions of Freud's and Darwin's theories. Also, an introductory chapter is devoted to the whole question of types of scientific programs and commitments with an eye toward preparing the reader for what psychoanalysis was to encounter in the way of psychology's program across the Atlantic. (The painstaking scholarship, complexity of thought, and absorbing footnote commentary of the opening chapters establish a high order of exposition which is admirably sustained throughout.)

The body of the monograph is an historical treatment of this encounter. It is a narrative, engrossingly documented, of the various attitudes which American psychology has struck against the impact of Freud—enthusiasm, suspicion, hostility, denial, permissiveness, mockery, tolerance—everything but indifference. Any idea that one or another quarter of psychology was spared this impact is untenable.

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