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November 16, 1970

The Discovery of the Unconscious: The History and Evolution of Dynamic Psychiatry

JAMA. 1970;214(7):1331-1332. doi:10.1001/jama.1970.03180070095033

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This is a fascinating history of one of the most important scientific developments of the past two centuries—dynamic psychiatry. Although much of the material is familiar, almost everyone will find new information and new facts here. Professor Ellenberger has done a tremendous amount of research, combining material from philosophy, literature, social history, and many other fields to explain the growth of psychological understanding.

The first third of the book describes the 18th- and 19th-century background. Here we read about exorcists, magnetizers, hypnotists, philosophers, psychological experimenters, investigators of dreams. We see the continuing influences of the thought of successive eras—the Renaissance, the Baroque, and especially the Enlightenment and Romantic period.

Four long chapters on Janet, Freud, Adler, and Jung constitute the main body of the book. Here are excellent summaries of the life and work of each. Janet, who did not establish a school, had little or no contact with the