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Blau, A. (1950). Child Psychiatry: By Leo Kanner, M.D. Second Edition. Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas, 1949. 752 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 19:428-429.

(1950). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 19:428-429

Child Psychiatry: By Leo Kanner, M.D. Second Edition. Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas, 1949. 752 pp.

Review by:
Abram Blau

Even though it is a second edition, this is an entirely new book. The resemblance to the first edition (1935) goes little further than the title and author. Comparisons with the first edition are, therefore, out of order because the organization of the material and the approach are totally different. It is significant mainly as an example of the maturing of a point of view in little over a decade. Whether this change refers to the author alone or the field of child psychiatry in general is an interesting but really immaterial question.

One must admire this book for its wide and extensive coverage; its systematic organization; the knowledge of the literature; the wise selection of significant contributions; the common-sense approach; the broad practical experience; the sympathetic understanding of parents, children and physicians as people; and the easy style of writing (except for occasional words like 'encopresis' [p. 47], 'iatrogenic' [p. 373]).

Yet it falls somewhat short as a modern book on psychiatry in that it does not go far enough in applying the principles of psychogenicity which are basic to modern dynamic psychiatry. A hundred pages are assigned to neurological and other organic conditions. The approach is still considerably symptomatic rather than holistic. Thumb-sucking, nail-biting, nose-picking, and the like are discussed as habitual manipulations. Psychotherapy is presented along lines which might be more useful to the general practitioner and pediatrician than to the well-trained psychiatrist interested in the specialty within a specialty. Psychiatric social work, so important in parent-child guidance, receives only a chapter of two pages. Many psychoanalytic studies of children, except for the classical works of Anna Freud and Melanie Klein, are overlooked, as are also many of the contributions of the child guidance movement.

In this reviewer's opinion, a current book on child psychiatry—or any other psychiatry for that matter—has to be psychoanalytically oriented. The author seems to be on the way to a more tolerant view of psychoanalysis and a better understanding of its indisputable findings, with less emphasis on the finer debatable points found in every branch of science.


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