THE CHANGING NATURE OF MAN by J. H. van den Berg

THE CHANGING NATURE OF MAN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Dr. van den Berg is a Dutch psychiatrist and professor, and his inquiry into the changing nature of man, which is a reflection of societal change in the world in which he lives, reverses the established, empirical concepts of Freud, introduces an original approach to the problems of 20th century man and the practical demands placed on the 20th century psychologist. (How shall I handle my wife, my child, my employee? questions which did not exist in earlier centuries.) Dr. van den Berg's book is based on the premise of change- which in itself invalidates earlier, presumably timeless, psychiatric thinking. His early chapters (some of the most stimulating) deal with the child, before the 19th century when the child was not a child, when he was exposed to adult sexuality and death and therefore forced into an earlier maturity, to the period (since Rousseau) which has established the gap between generations, and finally the child's world of today- a protracted infantilism- even into the married postadolescent phase, anomalous as it is. His second principal argument is the refutation of Freud-and Breuer's- theory of neurosis (and the unnecessary insistence on the past when dealing with problems occurring in the present). van den Berg argues that today's patient is suffering from illness which is not individual but of a social nature; with the disintegration of the small group (the family) there is the disconnection of the individual- adrift and at a loss; and what was once a simple, airy landscape, is now an overcrowding of the inner life..... There are many ideas here, many insights, many illuminations which occasion thought (and perhaps some argument) and certainly a great admiration for the tremendous literary frame of reference in which they are presented. Dr. van den Berg is as much a humanist as a scientist.

Publisher: Norton