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Johnson, F. (1969). The Americanization of the Unconscious. John R. Seeley. New York: International Science Press, 1967. viii + 456. Psychoanal. Rev., 56B(2):353-355.
(1969). Psychoanalytic Review, 56B(2):353-355
The Americanization of the Unconscious. John R. Seeley. New York: International Science Press, 1967. viii + 456
Review by: Frank Johnson
Seeley's book comprises thirty essays, addresses and scientific articles he has done during the past seven years. Many of these have been published elsewhere and, considering the variety of issues covered in these separate pieces, the author has been reasonably successful in arranging them into three topical sections and two major themes.
The first section, entitled “The Revolutions: Psychiatric and Sociological,” is chiefly concerned with depicting the relatively radical accommodations that are being thrust on these two fields by a series of broad changes in American life. The second, and in some ways the most satisfactory, section is entitled “The Psychoanalytic Stance of Social Science.” The third section, “Social in Psychodynamic Perspective,” is a melánge of interesting but unconnected essays on education, the public school system, the law, the family, and the relevance of these to sociology and mental health.
Two major themes dominate the book. The first involves a display of the ways in which theories of unconsciousmotivation have left a mark on academic and public institutions in American life. The second theme is a rhetorical plea for the development of a high-level human science embodying some sort of fusion of existing social and psychological sciences.
Oddly, the announced theme of the work, the “naturalization” or Americanization of psychoanalysis, is dealt with explicitly only in the first chapter. Seeley cites the national characteristics of meliorism, optimism and pragmatism as having had a positivistic and practicalizing effect on Freudian theory. The basic result, of course, has been the accentuation and development of ego psychology by a number of both émigré and native theoreticians. The association of these revisionists with the complementary theoretical work of American social scientists (Cooley, G. H. Mead, J. M. Baldwin) is summarized but not developed by the author.
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