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Sobel, I.P. (1949). Psychiatry for the Pediatrician: By Hale F. Shirley, M.D. New York: The Commonwealth Fund, 1948. 442 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 18:103-103.

(1949). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 18:103-103

Psychiatry for the Pediatrician: By Hale F. Shirley, M.D. New York: The Commonwealth Fund, 1948. 442 pp.

Review by:
Irwin Philip Sobel

This book is admittedly written for medical students and pediatricians who lack basic training in child psychiatry. The style is fluent and there are passages of wit and charm. The attitude toward the child is a genuinely kindly one. A thoroughly modern and healthful point of view toward the rearing of infants and children is presented. Many of the misconceptions which the laity so grimly cling to are tactfully corrected. The harm resulting from parental demands which the child's normal emotional and intellectual immaturity prevents it from fulfilling is clearly emphasized. The section on psychometric examinations is concise and helpful.

Unfortunately, the book is written in two dimensions. A great number of behavior problems are covered, spatially at least, but there is no depth. Only a few sketchy pages are allotted to the psychoanalytic point of view. The book produces no emotional impact on the reader. Tact has been substituted for force. Closely related words strung along in a sentence lull the reader, whereas what actually is needed is one word to create an effect. It is the type of book which arouses few objections but little enthusiasm. A pediatrician might agree that the author's conclusions make good sense, but would gain little basic insight into the child's personality and probably none into his own reactions toward his patients' difficulties. The book's limited objectives could be better attained in half the length. Numerous subheadings confuse rather than clarify.

Nevertheless, the book does have a certain merit. The pediatrician's strategic position enables him to exert a beneficial effect upon the child's personality. To accomplish this he needs some understanding of psychodynamics and a workable knowledge of modern concepts in child psychiatry. Unfortunately, not many pediatricians possess these qualifications today. Any book, however superficial and purely intellectual its approach, which focuses the pediatrician's attention upon his responsibility to help his patients attain and maintain mental health, has definite value.

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