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December 18, 1967

Sense and Symbol: A Textbook of Human Behavioral Science

JAMA. 1967;202(12):1111. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03130250093032

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Toss down a handful of beads, said William James, and you can perceive any pattern you wish simply by ignoring some of the beads. Descartes divided his beads into body and soul, joined in holy matrimony, as it were, by the pineal gland. The author of this textbook, a psychiatrist at Northwestern University, perceives a far more complex pattern.

Man, he holds, is composed of three "systems" (biological, psychological, and sociocultural) featuring nine "functions" (thinking and affect are two), mated not by the passé pineal but by the versatile hypothalamus, the redoubtable limbic system, and the majestic neocortex.

Nor is Descartes a match for Miller with respect to number of beads. The more than 1,000 references—some philosophical, many scientific — are drawn from every specialty dealing even remotely with man: anthropology, psychiatry, existentialism, ethology, and others. Its aim is to integrate these many disciplines and lay the foundation for a