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Tip: To review the bibliography…

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It is always useful to review an article’s bibliography and references to get a deeper understanding of the psychoanalytic concepts and theoretical framework in it.

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Rapaport, D. (1950). Cybernetics or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine: By Norbert Wiener. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1948. 194 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 19:598-603.

(1950). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 19:598-603

Cybernetics or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine: By Norbert Wiener. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1948. 194 pp.

Review by:
David Rapaport

This book, which deals with principles believed to be common to all self-regulating (homeostatic) mechanisms—'in the flesh and in the metal'—is difficult reading. The mathematics of Chapters II, III, IV is heavy; the connection between the chapters is very loose; there is no index; the printing and proofing is poor; and last but not least, the content and language are extremely uneven.

It is hard to perceive to whom this book is addressed. If it were addressed to scientists other than mathematicians and physicists, Chapters II, III, IV certainly should have been given a more didactic and explanatory treatment, and the other chapters would have required more than the passing familiarity with other sciences revealed by Wiener's comments on psychology, psychoanalysis, and psychiatry. One of Dr. Wiener's main practical propositions is (pp. 8–9) that the 'boundary regions of science offer the richest opportunities'; and that, for example, in the border region of physiology and mathematics 'ten physiologists ignorant of mathematics will get precisely as far as one physiologist ignorant of mathematics', and therefore 'proper exploration of these blank spaces on the map of science could only be made by a team of scientists, each a specialist in his own field, but each possessing a thoroughly sound and trained acquaintance with the field of his neighbors'. Judging by this book the thesis has serious limitations.

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