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Brenman, M. (1949). Case Histories in Clinical and Abnormal Psychology: Edited by Arthur Burton and Robert E. Harris. New York and London: Harper & Brothers, 1947. 680 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 18:238-240.

(1949). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 18:238-240

Case Histories in Clinical and Abnormal Psychology: Edited by Arthur Burton and Robert E. Harris. New York and London: Harper & Brothers, 1947. 680 pp.

Review by:
Margaret Brenman

The most provocative communication in these six hundred and eighty pages is the introduction by Henry Murray. The great sweep of his preliminary discussion, together with his acute critique of the book, make its contents seem on the whole quite pedestrian. It is difficult to imagine how the editors could keep this collection of case discussions, written by clinical psychologists and psychiatrists, and intended for students, from being an anticlimax; yet one feels disappointed that the contrast is so sharp.

Most of these forty-three presentations consist of clinical histories, usually including a strictly phenomenological description from the psychiatrist's record, a detailed presentation of the psychodiagnostic studies made by the psychologist, and a final discussion. Others are simply sketches of 'typical' cases from various nosological categories. A few give an account of the course of psychotherapy conducted by the clinical psychologist. There is great unevenness throughout; some of the papers demonstrate admirably high levels of competence both in clinical description and in psychodiagnostic evaluation, while others seem embarrassingly naïve and superficial.

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