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July 28, 1975

Pity the Reader

Author Affiliations

Millbrae, Calif

JAMA. 1975;233(4):318-319. doi:10.1001/jama.1975.03260040012005

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To the Editor.—  There is a certain pleasure in watching two boxers slug it out (228:711, 1974; 231:579, 1975). If the spectator is lucky, a knockout will decisively clinch the outcome.But lacking a knockout, there can be endless discussion of points, which blows were indeed the most telling, and which way the fight ought to have gone. Perhaps this is sometimes for the best. It leaves more to talk about.Such seems to be the case in a recent verbal boxing match published in The Journal: the debate between Conn and Engel on the state of psychoanalysis today. To at least this interested reader, both pieces, taken at face value by a nonspecialist, are replete with distortions, evasions, and technical fouls that vitiate their credibility. Moreover, the disputants appear to be arguing at cross-purposes, with ulterior motives that can only be guessed at from the text.Engel doesn't want