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Tip: To review The Language of Psycho-Analysis…

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Prior to searching a specific psychoanalytic concept, you may first want to review The Language of Psycho-Analysis written by Laplanche & Pontalis. You can access it directly by clicking here.

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Williams, A.H. (1973). Licensed Mass Murder: A Socio-Psychological Study of Some Ss Killers: By Henry V. Dicks. London: Chatto Heinemann for Sussex University Press. 1972. Pp. 283.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 54:362.

(1973). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 54:362

Licensed Mass Murder: A Socio-Psychological Study of Some Ss Killers: By Henry V. Dicks. London: Chatto Heinemann for Sussex University Press. 1972. Pp. 283.

Review by:
A. Hyatt Williams

This study of the way in which the personality of the middle and lower ranks of the Nazi hierarchy, involved in their extermination programme, felt and thought is a masterpiece of interviewing technique. Dr Dicks first gives a remarkably lucid and accurate synopsis of the psychodynamic principles which are essential prerequisites for the understanding of his later formulations. He also gives a wide survey of the relevant literature. Dr Dicks's outstanding contribution, however, is the way in which he correlates the material, makes inferences and reaches conclusions which are highly significant, and which in a very practical way could be of great use in ensuring that our feelings that 'it must never happen again' can be effective.

An interviewer of superb skill, Dr Dicks gives in considerable detail the data which he obtained from interviewing eight Nazi officials who had been convicted for their role in Hitler's genocidal programme. Their cases were already well-documented from a legal viewpoint. Dr Dicks investigated what these men felt about what they had done and how their views about themselves and their former actions, involving mass murder, underwent certain transformations and rationalizations with the passing of the years. I found this a most interesting book from the view point of my work with convicted murderers and also from the viewpoint of a practising psychoanalyst. The way in which the author handled the awful truth delicately and realistically entitles this book to a far wider readership, however, than the purely technical one.

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