by Harry Oosterhuis ‧ RELEASE DATE: Dec. 1, 2000
Krafft-Ebing’s archives are fascinating in their own right; the author’s meticulous scholarship and inviting prose...
Long regarded as a prim and repressive Victorian, psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing (1840–1902) emerges in this analysis as an innovator in the scientific study of sexuality.
Oosterhuis (Gay Men and the Sexual History of the Political Left, not reviewed, etc.) culled through the archives of Krafft-Ebing’s patient files, lost in an attic for 90 years, to research the psychiatrist’s relationship to his patients and to understand his views on abnormal sexualities. The bulk of this account focuses, first, on medical and psychiatric ideas about sexuality in the 19th century; second, on Krafft-Ebing’s professional strategies to advance the field of psychiatry in the changing social atmosphere of the late 1800s; third, on his collection of case histories; and, fourth, on the wider cultural context in which the doctor and his patients attempted to give valid social meaning to sexual experiences denigrated by contemporary values. A short chapter, “Krafft-Ebing’s Legacy,” concludes the study. The author’s reach is vast, but it does not exceed his grasp: Victorian science and the then-budding field of sexuality studies come alive through his probing analyses and nuanced interpretations. The case studies, moreover, provide an engrossing read and deep insights into the conditioning of Victorian morality: “Von R” desired to be “the servant of my servant”; “Dr. Phil G” perplexed the authorities of the time by defending his homoerotic desires; “Sara A” suffered a “hysteric neurosis” coupled with an “erotic madness” in her passionate love for a family friend. Krafft-Ebing’s responses to these and many other patients illuminated both the burgeoning science of psychiatry and the nascent resistance to sexual policing.Krafft-Ebing’s archives are fascinating in their own right; the author’s meticulous scholarship and inviting prose complement them: a superlative achievement in the study of sexuality. (4 tables; b&w photos)
Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2000
Page Count: 304
Publisher: Univ. of Chicago
Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2000
Share your opinion of this book
by Daniel Kahneman ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 1, 2011
Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...
A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.
The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.
Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011
Page Count: 512
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2011
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011
Share your opinion of this book
by Paul Kalanithi ‧ RELEASE DATE: Jan. 19, 2016
A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...
Awards & Accolades
Best Books Of 2016
New York Times Bestseller
Pulitzer Prize Finalist
A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.
Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.
Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016
Page Count: 248
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2015
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015
Share your opinion of this book
Hey there, book lover.
We’re glad you found a book that interests you!