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Brenman, M. (1949). Medical Hypnosis: By Lewis R. Wolberg, M.D. New York: Grune & Stratton, 1949. Two Volumes. 962 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 18:385-386.

(1949). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 18:385-386

Medical Hypnosis: By Lewis R. Wolberg, M.D. New York: Grune & Stratton, 1949. Two Volumes. 962 pp.

Review by:
Margaret Brenman

It is extremely difficult for a reviewer engaged in a given field of research to appraise critically the work of a fellow investigator grappling with precisely the same problems. This task becomes doubly difficult when the reviewer has had firsthand contact with the intensity, ingenuity and devotion of that colleague's investigations. Perhaps, under such conditions, the attempt should not even be made, especially when the work in question stimulates in the reviewer many negative as well as positive reactions. More precisely, while this reviewer feels that these two comprehensive volumes contain a rich mine of clinical material, and invaluable verbatim instructions on hypnotic technique, the over-all effect is somewhat confusing and sometimes even misleading.

The author attempts to include far more than is really possible even in nine hundred and sixty-two pages. The first volume contains the history, phenomenology, theory and technique of hypnosis, as well as a bird's-eye view of the dynamics of all of the major psychological illnesses, of the applications of hypnosis to each of these, and of the basic principles of psychotherapy. The second volume includes an extended discussion of the use of hypnosis as an aid to various psychotherapeutic approaches (reassurance, persuasion, re-education, psychoanalytic therapy, etc.) and a wealth of verbatim material from therapeutic sessions.

The author does not take it for granted that his readers may be reasonably familiar either with the dynamics of psychological disturbance or with the standard psychotherapeutic procedures. This may have been a realistic and wise decision if the aim is to provide a beginner's textbook; for the more advanced reader these detailed discussions slow things up considerably, especially when they concern peripheral problems.

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