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Dr. Stern, a practising psychiatrist, created a furor in 1951 with his bestselling Pillar of Fire about a Jew's conversion to Catholicism. His current book which attempts to reconcile Catholicism and psychiatry is likely to produce its storms in both the medical and religious worlds. Dr. Stern is right in the middle, and is trying to sell Catholic Christianity to the psychiatrists, and psychiatry and psychoanalysis to the Church. Along with most modern psychiatrists he believes that we are moving away from the 19th century scientific dogma that everything can be solved by mathematical science; intuition and values must enter the realm of individual psychology as they entered the realm of social sciences. His argument to the Church is that psychiatry recognizes the mystery of human consciousness beyond science and quite opposite to the strictly materialistic Marxian dialectic and also opposite to scientific positivism. Just as physics does not tell us the nature of energy, in the same way psychiatry will never tell us of the nature of desire and pleasure, although scientific observation in both fields can add to our understanding of their workings. Dr. Stern argues that many psychiatrists, starting with Freud, happened to live in a materialist period and therefore pooh-poohed religion, but that there is nothing in their medical findings inherently anti-religious. Unlike most modern psychiatrists he says that geniuses and saints who have seemingly acted hysterically or compulsively did not actually do so and the difference is simply in the results of ""By their fruits you shall know them"". An interesting book dealing with a touchy and important problem of finding place for religion and psychiatry in our day.

Pub Date: Oct. 29th, 1954
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace