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Shoenberg, P. (1976). Destruction by Automobile. Accident or Suicide? Edited by Norman Tabachnik. Springfield, Ill.: Charles C. Thomas. 1975. Pp. 288.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 57:372.

(1976). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 57:372

Destruction by Automobile. Accident or Suicide? Edited by Norman Tabachnik. Springfield, Ill.: Charles C. Thomas. 1975. Pp. 288.

Review by:
Peter Shoenberg

This book presents research carried out by a group of psychoanalysts and psychologists from the Los Angeles Suicide Prevention Centre and the Southern California Psychoanalytic Institute. Their intention was to evaluate the presence and significance of possible suicide-like factors in automobile accidents so as to apply that understanding to the prevention of car accidents. A team of psycho-analysts, (themselves evaluated for their own bias) interviewed three groups of hospitalized subjects matched for age and sex, comprising a group of severely suicidal subjects, a group of drivers injured as a result of one-car accidents and finally a control group of post-appendicectomy patients. Their interviews included a number of specific questions aimed at eliciting information of a psychodynamic nature so as to reveal whether certain predefined self-destructive modes of thinking, experiencing and behaving were present in the subjects from the different groups. Significant 'others' who had been closely involved with these subjects were interviewed by an independent team so as to assess the reliability of the information obtained by the psychoanalysts. The psychoanalysts' own tape-recorded interviews on the subjects were also independently assessed by two separate teams of lay raters and psychologists.

Contrary to their expectations, the authors found no clear evidence of significant self-destructive traits in the car accident subjects, except with respect to alcohol consumption.

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