Review of: The Practice of Dynamic Psychiatry. By Jules H. Masserman, M.D. (Pp. 790+xxx. 84s.) Philadelphia and London: W. B. Saunders Company. 1955.
The author of this textbook is well known for his work on experimental neuroses. His experiments were organized along Pavlovian lines, but his interpretations of the results were framed psychodynamically, in a way to fit in with the dominant trends of American psychiatry rather than in any accordance with the theories of conditioned reflexes. The same novel approach is brought fully into play in this textbook. Almost the entire interest of the book is centred on the neuroses, the amount of space given to organic and psychotic disorders being relatively trivial. The theoretical principles which are applied to obtain an understanding of the neuroses are those which the author used in his experimental work; though they contain elements derived from both Freud and Pavlov, they represent a synthesis which is his own. The emphasis of the book is on treatment by these principles - that is, an abbreviated form of psychotherapy; physical treatments are hardly discussed at all, though the place of drugs in aiding psychotherapy is considered at some length.
As a textbook of psychiatry this work is interesting but one-sided. Its purpose would appear to be the teaching of a special sort of orientation-that which would be most useful in subsequent psychotherapy, and which is applied from the first contact, through subsequent history-taking and examinations of all kinds, in diagnosis, classification, and prognosis. About one-third of the book is taken up with individual case histories, whose sole purpose seems to be to teach the practical application of the author's principles. It seems most doubtful whether psychotherapy can be learned from a textbook in this way.