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Sherman, M.H. (1971). The Wish for Objectivity: The Discovery of The Unconscious: The History and Evolution of Dynamic Psychiatry. Henri F. Ellenberger. New York: Basic Books. 1970.. Psychoanal. Rev., 58(1):126-134.

(1971). Psychoanalytic Review, 58(1):126-134

Special Book Review

The Wish for Objectivity: The Discovery of The Unconscious: The History and Evolution of Dynamic Psychiatry. Henri F. Ellenberger. New York: Basic Books. 1970.

Review by:
Murray H. Sherman, Ph.D.

Dr. Ellenberger set himself the task of writing a history of psychiatry that would be very different from any of our existing texts. He states that his book “is intended to be a history of dynamic psychiatry, based on a scientific methodology, with a detailed and objective survey of the great dynamic psychiatric systems, notably those of Janet, Freud, Adler and Jung” (p. v). Those readers who are surprised at the inclusion and position of Janet's name will have ample ground to explore Ellenberger's reasons.

One of the difficulties in this volume is that the author nowhere defines precisely what he means by dynamic psychiatry, nor does he in any way indicate its relationship to psychoanalysis. Presumably he intends to cover those psychiatric systems that emphasize the unconscious but he also includes references to psychosurgery, metrozol therapy and electric shock treatment. Despite the book's title, Ellenberger deals with the concept of the unconscious in only a descriptive sense of the term, not in a dynamic or other meaning. Nor, in fact, does he make a direct comparison of the various senses in which “unconscious” was used by Freud, Jung, Adler, and Janet. He also fails to explore the reasons why each of these men reached his own particular view of the unconscious.

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