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October 1961

The Informed Heart: Autonomy in a Mass Age.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1961;5(4):420-421. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1961.01710160100014

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The distinguished director of the University of Chicago's Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School has again written an important and stimulating book on a topical subject. His is not a theoretical contribution but a solidly documented thesis based on personal experiences in a Nazi concentration camp, work with emotionally disturbed children, and decades of "hard thinking."

The author's own quest for certainty first led him to philosophy and then to psychoanalysis, which soon disappointed him in that it failed to solve his quest for a good life and to further the achievement of human potentialities. Work with autistic children and life in a concentration camp convinced Bettelheim that psychoanalysis neglects the positive goals of self-realization and individuation that come from the experiences of living under stress.

Bettelheim deals essentially with the concept of autonomy and the consciousness of freedom: "One's sense of identity, the conviction of being a unique individual,

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