VITAL BALANCE by

VITAL BALANCE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In psychiatry, as in everything else, there are the upbeat boys and the downbeat ones; Karl Menninger and his two colleagues belong markedly with the former. They are therapists and optimists as against, in their words, the pathologists and pessimists. This is a massive, holistic look at psychiatry yesterday, today, tomorrow. Its style swings between the cluttered, clinical jargon of the professionals (for which apologies and remedies are tendered) and the comfortably concerned accent of the newspaper editorialist. But it is also very up to date, drawing on extensive experience-primarily that of the famous Menninger Clinic. Moreover it pumps for a ""total push"", a revolution in mental health thinking and technique, the social employment of a sort of emotional preventive-medicine. Throughout the key concept is that of consolidation, or what the authors call the ""unitary"" view. All states and syndromes are seen as stages in a single process, of constant adaptation, of organization, disorganization, reorganization with the ego as system-regulator and the instincts incorporated in dual-drive motivations. The aggressive drive is the ""dangerous and disturbing one, to the environment, to the organism, and to their essential interrelations"". Of course Freud is invoked, at times subtly, at others self-servingly. There are too many ""explanations"" which do not explain away. Nevertheless a work of much interest and inspiration, some importance.

Publisher: Viking