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Piro, L.J. (1975). Interpretation of Schizophrenia by Silvano Arieti, Basic Books, New York, 1974, second edition, 756 pages, $22.50. Am. J. Psychoanal., 35(3):287-289.

(1975). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 35(3):287-289

Book Reviews

Interpretation of Schizophrenia by Silvano Arieti, Basic Books, New York, 1974, second edition, 756 pages, $22.50

Review by:
Louis J. Piro, M.D.

The first edition of this scholarly work was published in 1955. This second edition comes nearly two decades later, but it does not merely cover additions to the literature as if they were but the accretions of time. The whole book has been recast, as well as enlarged. It is still vitalized by an author who is not penurious about sharing with peers the various and sundry niceties of his very real approach to the treatment of the schizophrenic patient. One feels Arieti's genuine warmth, a warmth that resembles what we have heard of Harry Stack Sullivan and Frieda Fromm-Reichmann, whom he seems to have known quite well.

This is not the type of book that lends itself to a synopsis; the amount of material is too vast for that. Historical references enhance pages already abundant in wisdom. For example, Arieti tells us that Kasanin coined the term “schizo-affective psychosis” in 1933, fifteen years before Fromm-Reichmann gave us the concept of the schizo-phrenogenic mother and almost twenty-five years before Lidz and his associates described the father of a schizophrenic patient as being insecure in his masculinity and in need of great admiration for the sake of bolstering his shaky self-esteem.

Arieti distinguishes between the compliant and the schizoid person. He draws the following distinction: the former complies so that he may please; the latter complies to avoid displeasing. In talking about the schizoid personality and the stormy personality, terms that occur frequently, he mentions that self-esteem and self-identity are impaired in both but that self-identity is more impaired in the stormy personality.

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