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August 16, 1976

Psychiatry and the Human Condition

Author Affiliations

The Ohio State University Columbus

JAMA. 1976;236(7):880. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03270080060041

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Iago Galdston stands for the tradition of the physician who relates his profession and his practice to the humanistic tradition of the West. In these 33 papers, all but one previously published and dating from 1944 to 1972, Galdston demonstrates the many ways in which civilization in general and the history and philosophy of medicine in particular pertain to our times and to his specialty, psychiatry. "The historical perspective," he writes (pp 123-124), "induces humility, inspires hope, broadens one's vision, and teaches one to be earnest in enterprise but not humorless in the face of reality."

Galdston's approach is Dionysian rather than Apollonian. Most of the papers are about general topics like the psychiatry of Paracelsus and "Our One-Generation Culture." The occasional case histories exemplify not clinical practice but such subjects as deprivation, existentialism, and the irrational in psychodynamics. A substantial portion of the book is devoted to explorations of