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Barbu, V. (1950). The Commonsense Psychiatry of Dr. Adolf Meyer. Fifty-two selected papers. Edited, with biographical narrative, by Alfred Lief. 677 pp. 1948. McGraw-Hill Book Co., Inc. $6.50.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 10(1):70-72.

(1950). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 10(1):70-72

Book Reviews

The Commonsense Psychiatry of Dr. Adolf Meyer. Fifty-two selected papers. Edited, with biographical narrative, by Alfred Lief. 677 pp. 1948. McGraw-Hill Book Co., Inc. $6.50.

Review by:
Valer Barbu, M.D.

Dr. adolf meyer has long been considered the “dean of American psychiatry.” His life work covers a long span of years, from the early 1890s to 1941 when he retired as professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University at the age of 75.

From the beginning he was keenly interested in fundamentals and in his psychobiology he attempted to create a scientific basis for psychiatry. In the 1890s he was far ahead of his time when he began to work persistently toward a complete recognition of the importance of personality factors in psychiatric disorders. He was opposed to the fixed and fatalistic psychiatric nosology of his time and in the course of years he developed his own concept of the relatively flexible reaction-types, calling for a formulation which gives due attention to the observable facts of the case, objective as well as subjective, psychological as well as physical—and expressed in everyday language, with caution against the unwarranted use of high sounding abstractions, whence the name “commonsense psychiatry.” Although he made basic contributions to most areas of psychiatry and wrote many papers, he never published a book. He worked constantly on fundamental questions and offered his answers publicly, but he was never quite satisfied, believing that everything could be improved upon by further effort and a book would perhaps suggest finality.

Through his capacity to see essentials clearly, Meyer's work took on an aspect of a philosophy of psychiatry.

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