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Rose, S. (1960). Metamorphosis. Ernest G. Schachtel. M.D. 344 pp. Basic Books, Inc., New York, $6. Am. J. Psychoanal., 20(2):225-227.

(1960). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 20(2):225-227

Metamorphosis. Ernest G. Schachtel. M.D. 344 pp. Basic Books, Inc., New York, $6

Review by:
Sidney Rose, M.D.

Dr. Ernest Schachtel undertakes a difficult but worthwhile project in his attempt to answer the question: How does adult man become what he is? In recognizing the tremendous scope of this subject, he limits himself to some crucial factors in the development of emotions, perception, attention, and memory, and from this perspective he views the broader question of human development. While many of the concepts previously have been expressed by others, he has successfully incorporated them with his own original contributions and has produced a well-integrated, important, and stimulating book.

Dr. Schachtel follows the now-powerful trends which emphasize constructive elements inherent in the developing human being. Freud's negative view, wherein he saw reduction of tension as pleasure, is too narrow. The child does not develop its senses and capacities merely to avoid painful reality, but actually ventures forth to encounter reality with curiosity, eagerness, and delight. It is the frustration of this drive to self-realization that leads to sickness, rather than “the frustration of the need to return to an excitationless state.” The child enjoys its active capacities for discovery and exploration, but the wonderful potentialities of the child are all too often thwarted and destroyed by the cultural demands transmitted to it through parents, teachers, and others.

At each stage of development there is an embeddedness in the milieu—ties which have to be dissolved as the growing being advances to the next stage into a different milieu. First there is the embeddedness in the womb, then the mother-child ties. These are followed by the family-child bonds which are replaced in complex ways by the culture and later in the social system.

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