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Gillespie, W.H. (1942). Conceptual Thinking in Schizophrenia: By Eugenia Hanfmann and Jacob Kasanin. (Nervous and Mental Disease Monographs, New York, 1942. Pp. viii + 115. Price $2.50.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 23:183-183.

(1942). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 23:183-183

Conceptual Thinking in Schizophrenia: By Eugenia Hanfmann and Jacob Kasanin. (Nervous and Mental Disease Monographs, New York, 1942. Pp. viii + 115. Price $2.50.)

Review by:
W. H. Gillespie

This book presents the results of a careful and well-controlled piece of research into the problem of schizophrenic thought disorder. It is based on the work of Vigotsky, and the test material consists of the 'concept formation test' originated by Ach. This is an ingenious sorting test; in performing it the subject betrays the level of his thought processes, whether concrete or conceptual. Vigotsky considers the loss of conceptual thinking to be the basic disturbance in schizophrenia (though he is careful in his paper to deny any ætiological significance to it); but he does not present conclusive experimental evidence.

The present research is based on the application of the concept formation test to (a) 62 schizophrenics of varying clinical types and educational attainment, (b) 50 college graduate controls, (c) 45 state hospital attendant controls, (d) 24 patients with organic brain disease. The authors have worked out a detailed and consistent technique and method of scoring (though the latter, as in so many psychological tests, is very arbitrary); and they find that it is necessary to distinguish not less than three grades of thinking, as opposed to Vigotsky's simple division into conceptual and concrete ('complex') thinking. They find, in fact, that thinking in true abstract concepts is practically confined to the college-trained subjects; other normal subjects generally reach only the intermediate grade of partially conceptual thinking. It is therefore essential to make allowance for a person's educational level; thus, the college-trained schizophrenics do on the average about as well as the attendant controls, but much less well than the college controls.

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