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Strean, H.S. (1972). Radical and Militant Youth: A Psychoanalytic Inquiry. Robert Liebert. New York: Praeger, 1971. 257 pp.. Psychoanal. Rev., 59(3):489.
(1972). Psychoanalytic Review, 59(3):489
Radical and Militant Youth: A Psychoanalytic Inquiry. Robert Liebert. New York: Praeger, 1971. 257 pp.
Review by: Herbert S. Strean
The radical behavior of college students has been attacked and defended by all—faculty, students, parents, and community-minded citizens; experts in various disciplines such as sociology, history, and political science have been advancing many hypotheses to explain it. Robert Liebert, a practicing psychoanalyst and a faculty member of Columbia College and Columbia's College of Physicians and Surgeons has made an additional and valuable contribution.
On the scene during the Columbia uprising of 1968, when he was in continual contact with student activists, Liebert draws on data supplied by the students themselves whom he interviewed, their written accounts, and clinical material from student-patients supplied by several psychoanalysts. His empirical data is underpinned by theories of Freud, Erikson, Keniston, Lifton, Coles, and others.
After presenting a rich sociological analysis of the university as a social system in his first chapter, “Why the University?” Liebert describes the “Non-activists” and “the Rebels.” He then takes a careful look at the communes and student interactions with parents, faculty, and the police. His volume explains that psychoanalysis alone cannot supply the answers to student radicalism, though there are unique, individual factors in radical activism. The complete understanding of the individual rests on an application and understanding of the student's social, political, and historical context. For example, Liebert demonstrates how differences between blacks and whites at Columbia and in the larger society made occupying or deciding not to occupy a building quite different for black militants and white radicals.
For those who are interested in the college student, whether they be parents, psychoanalysts, educators, or students, this book is highly recommended, For those seeking narrow sociological, political, or psychoanalytic explanations of student rebellion, it is not.
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