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Gillespie, W.H. (1943). Psychopathology: The Sexual Perversions and Abnormalities. By Clifford Allen. (Oxford University Press, London, 1940. Pp. xii + 193. Price, 7 s. 6 d.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 24:79-80.

(1943). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 24:79-80

Psychopathology: The Sexual Perversions and Abnormalities. By Clifford Allen. (Oxford University Press, London, 1940. Pp. xii + 193. Price, 7 s. 6 d.)

Review by:
W. H. Gillespie

This book is intended to fill a gap in the education of medical students by explaining 'from a biological point of view the aberrations of sexual behaviour'. This is surely a laudable intention, but it is difficult to commend the execution. Much may be excused in war time, but this book, published in 1940, was no doubt written to a large extent before the war; in any case it shows unpardonable signs of hurried and careless composition; there are innumerable inaccuracies in the references; the style, frequently bad, descends at times to such depths as 'the duty of we, who are fortunate to be normal' (p. ix). More important, the thought itself is careless and full of question-begging, e.g. 'The adoption of one set of theories is foreign to any scientific point of view.' (p. vii.) It is clear, also, that the author does not read with reasonable care and understanding, and this reading disability manifests itself chiefly in relation to psycho-analytical writings. We read, for example, on p. 46: 'Then there is an Oedipus stage in which the child concentrates all its affection on its mother and hates its father. In doing so it tends to identify itself with its mother and so reacts in a feminine manner (i.e. it is homosexual), so that this stage is one of homosexuality.' The author adds naïvely in a footnote: 'It is impossible here to do justice to the whole intricate system of psychology elaborated by Freud. For a simple account see the writer's Modern Discoveries in Medical Psychology.' 'Simple' is hardly an adequate description of this kind of distortion.

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