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Fried, E. (1974). The Will to be Human. Sylvano Arieti. New York: Quadrangle Books, Inc., 1972. 279 pp.. Psychoanal. Rev., 61(2):305-306.

(1974). Psychoanalytic Review, 61(2):305-306

Book Reviews

The Will to be Human. Sylvano Arieti. New York: Quadrangle Books, Inc., 1972. 279 pp.

Review by:
Edrita Fried

According to whether the reader insists on systematically integrated data and thoughts or allows himself to relish a relatively unassorted profusion of knowledge and ideas by an erudite and creative mind, Arieti's new books will either impress and stimulate or confuse. For here is a whirlpool of observations and theories clustering around such topics as Skinnerian conditioning, personal freedom of choice, clinical analogies between individual pathology and social behavior patterns, philosophies that deal with the human condition, and approaches to the problem of will.

The author has long been immersed in the study of various forms of schizophrenia and is known for his brilliant observations and deductions concerning this condition, and I found the parallel that he perceives between the impact of mental disorders on the individual and on the world particularly interesting. For example, Arieti maintains that the individual coming from a home where suspicion reigns and is directed at him assumes, as a citizen of the world, a paranoid role with a concomitant distrust of all governmental actions. He perceives the psychopath as an expert in “ripping off,” in modeling for others the skills of doing evil. In Arieti's words, “There are relations between prepsychotic experience and social hostility.”

What cause the enormous abuses and exploitations we find in our society? Here is a sampling of the points Arieti emphasizes: the unrestricted release of drive energies, encouraged by Freud and Reich; the longstanding, erroneous assumption that aggression is merely a destructive force (an idea which has been refuted by the psychoanalytic ego psychologists); the conspicuous absence of trust; and the fear of freedom. Special emphasis is given to the distinction between a consciousness or sense of responsibility experienced as imposed from outside and hence basically “authoritarian,” and a consciousness experienced as basically arising from the self and called humanistic.

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