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Harris, H.I. (1950). Psychoanalysis: Evolution and Development: By Clara Thompson, M.D. with the collaboration of Patrick Mullahy. New York: Hermitage House, Inc., 1950. 252 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 19:573-575.

(1950). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 19:573-575

Psychoanalysis: Evolution and Development: By Clara Thompson, M.D. with the collaboration of Patrick Mullahy. New York: Hermitage House, Inc., 1950. 252 pp.

Review by:
Herbert I. Harris

Psychoanalytic theory today penetrates so many other areas of thought that writers can with difficulty discuss any one aspect of it with precision and clarity. Dr. Thompson, in collaboration with Mr. Patrick Mullahy, has surmounted this difficulty in presenting a popularized discussion of the 'interpersonal-cultural' hypotheses of Sullivan, Horney, and Fromm. Her style is entertaining and highly personal. Despite her avowed intention to remain objective and unbiased it is plain that her loyalty to this school is undivided. This book is clearly not meant for the student looking for a carefully documented history of psychoanalysis. For this reason its subtitle, Evolution and Development, which words Webster states are synonyms, is somewhat misleading. Since, by Dr. Thompson's own admission (pp. ix and 193), it is extremely difficult to write on this subject in an objective fashion, it may be of interest to speculate why a body of scientific theory gives rise to so much bias. This reviewer thinks that two fairly obvious reasons deserve consideration.

The first of these seems to rest in the possibility that psychotherapy, whether psychoanalytically oriented or not, is an art and not a science. Like all arts it has a body of technical knowledge which its practitioner must master before he can produce an acceptable work. Faced with the rapidly changing and myriad variations in relationships that occur in one therapeutic hour, the practitioner is forced to rely largely on a skill which, based on the techniques he has mastered, will enable him to direct treatment in an optimally effective manner. A fairly close comparison would be the skilled pianists playing a Bach fugue at sight. Just as two equally skilled pianists would play such a composition differently on their first attempt so, too, do two equally skilled therapists conduct a therapeutic hour, as sound recordings made of such interviews show. Furthermore, the training of analysts by means of control analyses appears to be almost identical with the apprenticeship under a master that students of painting, sculpture and music undertake.

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