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Schimel, J.L. (1973). Personal Psychopathology: Early Formulations: Harry Stack Sullivan (with an Introduction by Helen Swick Perry), W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1972, 390 pp., $12.50. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 1(3):319-322.

(1973). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 1(3):319-322

Personal Psychopathology: Early Formulations: Harry Stack Sullivan (with an Introduction by Helen Swick Perry), W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1972, 390 pp., $12.50

Review by:
John L. Schimel

Personal Psychopathology is presumably the last of the posthumous works of Harry Stack Sullivan. It was originally written during the period of 1929-1932, and privately circulated. Helen Swick Perry suggests, in her introduction to the book, that Sullivan's decision not to publish it for a wider audience “represented his first major failure”. Nevertheless, the developing ideas presented in this book had a wide and manifold effect on American psychiatry. Those who studied or worked with Sullivan and who were influenced by his thinking include Frieda Fromm-Reichmann, Edith Weigert, Dexter Bullard, Clara Thompson, Erich Fromm, Otto Will, Harold Searles, Don Jackson, etc., and their students. Sullivan's ideas have been so pervasive that Leston Havens of Harvard has suggested that Sullivan “almost secretly” dominates the field. Redlich and Freedman have characterized him as “America's most original modern psychiatrist”. A reading of Personal Psychopathology reveals the foundation for these views.

Historically, this book lies between two other posthumous works, Schizophrenia As A Human Process and The Fusion of Psychiatry and Social Science. The former contains a selection of papers published before and contemporary with Personal Psychopathology and the latter includes papers published during the remainder of his life. Personal Psychopathology was Sullivan's only attempt to systematize at length his formulations of human development and behavior. Conceptions of Modern Psychiatry, originally a series of five lectures delivered in 1939, was first published in Psychiatry in 1940 and, in 1945, appeared in book form. Conceptions should be read (or reread) in conjunction with Personal Psychopathology as it illuminates the continuing development of much of Sullivan's thought.

So what is this book? It would be easy enough to list the table of contents for the reader of this review.

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