Psycho-Analysis: A Brief Account of the Freudian Theory by Barbara Low

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Barbara Low
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Psycho-Analysis: A Brief Account of the Freudian Theory

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Book review

OUR own reading public owes a debt to the British workers in psychoanalysis that one of their number has presented so helpful an account of the subject. The writer sets forth concisely, in the simple form that makes such a book of special practical value, the fundamental principles of psychoanalysis and the elementary facts of the unconscious mental life evidently from a thorough practical acquaintance with these on her own part. She speaks with no arbitrary authority but necessarily in the brevity of her work she states without too great elaboration of proof her own firm convictions. Hers is the authoritativeness which psychoanalysis is everywhere coming to assume, that of undeniable practical effect convincingly witnessed and candidly stated.

Besides offering to general readers an opportunity to obtain a well ordered presentation of psychoanalysis as a form of psychology, profound in its theory and deeply practical in a variety of applications, the book affords also a stimulating review of the subject to those already trained in these fundamental facts. For both classes of readers there is the refreshment of a broad cultural basis on the part of the author. This enables her to comprehend psychoanalysis, more completely than its critics have been able to accept it, as a movement issuing out from the slow evolution of humanity and as related to every branch of human culture. It is therefore not entirely new nor is it an arbitrary graft of some capricious mind. Its place in development of thought is rather that of a deeper psychology than has heretofore been propounded and a scientifically utilized method of illumination of the hidden meanings of human life. It explores the deepest recesses of the mind and follows out the mechanisms by which psychic impulses express themselves. This gives it its peculiar relation to readjustment of mental content and activities in the case of mental disturbances.

These things Low has presented in her discussions. She touches upon the history of the psychoanalytic movement, one purpose in so doing being to make clear Freud’s own fundamental structure on which he has based the work. She describes the mental life, as existing chiefly in the unconscious, which comprises the field of psychoanalysis and gives it its practical significance. In treating thus of the mental life in its conscious and unconscious portions she mentions the factors of repression, censorship, the conflict of ego interests and social interests, the partial resolution of the conflict which permits of antisocial manifestations or of psychoneuroses, or the more complete solution which results in sublimation. She presents anew the part of the dream in the mental life serving also as a means of understanding it and thus leads into the matter of treatment and of the social and educational function of psychoanalysis. This review is enlivened in its more technical details by frequent illustration of the workings of the mental life and also by constant recognition of the mutual light which the special psychoanalytic method and general culture throw upon one another.

Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, Volume 53

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