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Harris, H.I. (1949). An Introduction to Clinical Psychology: Edited by L. A. Pennington, Ph.D. and Irwin A. Berg, Ph.D. New York: The Ronald Press Co., 1948. 595 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 18:88-89.

(1949). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 18:88-89

An Introduction to Clinical Psychology: Edited by L. A. Pennington, Ph.D. and Irwin A. Berg, Ph.D. New York: The Ronald Press Co., 1948. 595 pp.

Review by:
Herbert I. Harris

This volume appears to be a hastily assembled collection of papers purporting to outline the field for the student of clinical psychology. It is full of theoretical and practical contradictions. While such disagreement may show that clinical psychology is an actively growing profession, the reviewer believes that it will confuse the student. For example, in the opening chapter Cattell says that the goal of clinical psychology is 'the bringing of the mentally abnormal back to health', thereby identifying clinical psychology with psychiatry. In the next to the last chapter Yacorzynski states 'the primary objective of the psychologist … is to contribute to our knowledge and understanding of mental illness', which implies a major emphasis on research. Such contradictions are found throughout the book. In the chapters on testing which are, for the most part, the best written and informative, Sargent says, 'Projective media … may also be used as adjuncts to other types of treatment'. This moderate statement is countered in the chapter on Client-Centered Therapy by the statement, 'the use of psychometric tests can interfere with the process of therapy'. One is reminded of the definition of clinical psychology as 'anything the clinical psychologist happens to be doing at the time'.

This reviewer is bemused by the exotic verbiage that is sprouting around the performance of psychotherapy by psychologists. 'Client-centered therapy' is a case in point. 'Structuring' is a meretricious term if examined closely, and has qualities comparable to the time-worn 'idiopathic' used by medical men to appear omniscient when baffled. Psychologists have long protested the complicated terminology of psychiatry and particularly psychoanalysis which, they have claimed, prevents the free communication of ideas between the professions. It seems that in the attempt to develop areas for their own activities they are being equally culpable, the more so since it is apparent throughout the book that most of the significant formulations employed can be traced with little effort to the original observations of Sigmund Freud. This reviewer laments the superficiality that appears to be developing as much in psychiatry as in the psychology depicted in this book. As sources recede in time it becomes increasingly difficult for writers on clinical matters to relate their findings and observations to these sources.

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