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January 30, 1954

Basic Problems in Psychiatry

JAMA. 1954;154(5):459. doi:10.1001/jama.1954.02940390083042

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This readable little book is an outgrowth of a lecture series for the house staff and community physicians, given at the Jewish Hospital of Brooklyn. The six contributors and the editor, all qualified psychiatrists and psychologists, bring from their varied clinical and research experiences a critique of present day psychiatry. W. Horsley Gantt summarizes the results of Pavlovian conditioned reflex experiments. Paul Hoch compares the various "schools" of psychiatry. Other authors discuss the influence of culture, the validity of psychological tests, the choice of psychosomatic symptoms, and the limitations of psychiatry. The result is somewhat uneven and definitely individualistic. Two contributors append a bibliography. The book might be considered a minority report aimed at the complacency of those who believe that psychiatry already knows most of the answers. The plea of the editor is for a common sense approach based on data verifiable in the laboratory. Psychiatrists will find the

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