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Friedman, I. (1968). Self-Realization and Self-Defeat. By Samuel J. Warner Ph.D.Grove Press, Inc., New York: 1966 215 pp. $6.00.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 28(1):103-103.

(1968). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 28(1):103-103

Book Reviews

Self-Realization and Self-Defeat. By Samuel J. Warner Ph.D.Grove Press, Inc., New York: 1966 215 pp. $6.00.

Review by:
Irving Friedman, M.D.

Samuel Warner is a psychologist with a deep and abiding interest in persons who exhibit the paradoxical traits of self-defeatism. In his practice of psychotherapy he has been strongly influenced by the pioneering efforts of Karen Horney. The book deals with self-defeating trends seen in terms of interpersonal and intrapsychic phenomena. The organization and style of the book and the author's lucid exposition, all remind this reader of Karen Horney's works.

The question to which this book addresses itself is: How and why do we defeat ourselves? Although every person shows a certain uniqueness in his life style, experience has shown that all of us, to the extent that we employ neurotic methods of coping with the world, also make use of self-defeating ways of living. Warner illustrates this point well with examples, from his clinical practice, of persons with blatant self-defeatism. He stresses that this trend, resulting in stifling a person's creativity, is diametrically opposed to self-realization. He considers this phenomenon the essence of the neurotic's tragedy.

The major problem then becomes a struggle between self-defeat and self-realization. As Horney says in The Neurotic Personality of Our Time, “The basic evil in our culture is the lack of genuine warmth and affection.” This is what unleashes and maintains seething hostility in our patients, and starts them on the road to their neurotic solutions.

Warner's view is that “Each of us has a deep and intense need for existence characterized by ordinary decency and justice; when this need is frustrated, we react with bitter resentment.

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