PREDICTING THE PAST: Memos on the Enticing Universe of Possibility by Humphry Osmond

PREDICTING THE PAST: Memos on the Enticing Universe of Possibility

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Brief ""memos,"" as he calls them, form the text of this popularization by psychiatrist Osmond, best known for his early work with Abram Hoffer on psychedelic drugs (Osmond's adjective) and on megavitamin therapy for schizophrenia. Here, he is concerned with the rules and roles that govern people's lives--with particular relation to the problems of sick, dying, or mentally-ill patients. He also touches upon larger questions of how citizens in democracies or dictatorships cope with their leaders. None of this, however, quite coheres. The psychiatrist frequently pegs his analyses of individuals to a theory of personality types he calls typomethectics, based on ways of perceiving the world. He conceives of four normal variants: the thinking type; the feeling-type; sensation-type (manipulative, powerful); and the intuitive-type (persuasive, inspiring, charismatic). The practitioner provides a sample of the tests he and colleagues have developed to diagnose and catalogue the misperceptions of schizophrenics. Many of the brief comments make good sense and reveal Osmond's respect and compassion for the sick and troubled. His prejudices are set forth clearly: while he believes that Freud was right in some explanations (of homosexuality, for example), he is strongly anti-Freudian and strongly chemically grounded--seeing the cause of some mental illness in food additives and sugar. For the most part, however, the book is less didactic and more thought-provoking: how can we spot potential assassins? what is the morality of sex-change surgery? of suicide? Along the way, Osmond analyzes such diverse figures as Nixon, Ezra Pound, and Lee Harvey Oswald. Pleasantly clear, non-preachy pieces, then (the typomethectic jargon notwithstanding); but random and diffuse in content.

Pub Date: Nov. 23rd, 1981
Publisher: Macmillan