ODYSSEY OF THE SELF-CENTERED SELF by Robert Elliot Fitch

ODYSSEY OF THE SELF-CENTERED SELF

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KIRKUS REVIEW

We are all rakes in search of religion- be it Zen, Analysis, Pantheism, God, or just plain pleasure. With gingerish contrariness and herculean detachment, author Fitch goads us through the maze of our search, with illustrations from Voltaire, Thackeray, Huxley (apparently his favorite) and a host of other writers, reviewers, cartoonists and philosophers. He asserts that historically man has ordered his religion around a series of objective realities beginning with God, moving to Nature, Humanity, Society, and here and now- the Deity of the Self. Modern man's sickness is ""his abdication of moral responsibility, his egoistic concentration upon the self in self-pity"". He roasts the mass of analysands who, self-absorbed already, run to the doctor to be told they must love and accept themselves more wholeheartedly. He deplores our absence of moral values, our ""misplaced compassion""- we have more sympathy with the murderer than with the murdered. As examples, he gives us thumbnail sketches of modern martyrs- and at this point the reader may question Mr. Fitch's misplaced compassion. He goes a long way to stir up the sludge of murky thinking about moral values and psychotherapy, but he seems to discount the catalyst which is the element in therapy- love for a fellow human being and concern for his welfare. However, the author has a facility for witty and staggering statements about modern life that will startle and arouse, even where it does not persuade.

Pub Date: March 22nd, 1961
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace