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Grotjahn, M. (1949). 400 Years of a Doctor's Life: Collected and arranged by George Rosen, M.D., and Beate Caspari-Rosen, M.D. New York: Henry Schuman, 1947. 429 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 18:114-115.
(1949). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 18:114-115
400 Years of a Doctor's Life: Collected and arranged by George Rosen, M.D., and Beate Caspari-Rosen, M.D. New York: Henry Schuman, 1947. 429 pp.
Review by: Martin Grotjahn
As a rule physicians retain a certain loyalty for their teachers and continue to learn from them. In this process of learning, identification plays an important part. The autobiographies of famous physicians often show the development of this identification clearly. The devotion of physicians to reading their teachers' autobiographies continues in less obvious form the process of identification started in student days.
The autobiography of a physician schooled in clinical observation and 'emotional restraint' will offer some difficulties to the analytic reader who must learn to read through the resistances. After he has learned to analyze these resistances he will find in them considerable material for the study of medical motivation.
This book succeeds to a large extent in showing the great physicians as they saw themselves. Illustrative passages are reprinted without condensation from the autobiographies of eighty different doctors, men and women, from eleven countries, their life stories covering a span of four centuries, and every conceivable specialty in the vast field of medicine. The quotations are prefaced by short biographical notes and historical data, to place the quotation in the proper perspective of medical history and relate it to the life of the author.
Reprinted, for instance, is that part of Harvey Cushing's War Diary, where in some of the most moving words ever written by a physician, he tells of the death of the only son of the great physician, Sir William Osler. Another classic is Benjamin Rush's account of yellow fever in Philadelphia in 1793.
The chapter, Early Years, contains among others, Daniel Drake's description of his childhood in Kentucky, Adolf Kussmaul's early religious training, Oliver Wendell Holmes' boyhood, and Havelock Ellis's recollections of his second year of life. Freud is quoted in the chapter, The Medical Student, and at length from his autobiography in a later chapter, The Practice of Medicine. Of special interest is The Doctor as Patient, reminiscent of Alfred Grotjahn's book of the same title: it contains Johann George Zimmerman's observations of his herniotomy without narcosis; Wenzel Krimmer's account of his trachoma; William A.
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