Usdin, Gene, ed.
OVERVIEW OF THE PSYCHOTHERAPIES. New York: Brunner/Mazel, 1975. $8.50.
The contributing authors to this new volume from the American College of Psychiatrists present a lucid and unpretentious overview of our current concepts of psychotherapy, and how these fit into both our clinical needs in treating patients and the social context in which both patient and doctor function. In a relatively concise and, certainly, interesting manner, articles are presented on psychodynamic psychotherapy, behavioral therapy, group therapy, psychopharmacology, and family therapy; and an attempt is made to show how each relates to the other and to the basic conceptual framework of modem psychiatry. Throughout the volume the needs of the individual remain paramount, as is stated by Jerome Frank, M. D., in his article "An Overview of Psychotherapy":
"As institutions of American society, all psychotherapies, despite their diversity, share a value system which accords primacy to individual self-fulfillment or self -actualization. This includes maximum selfawareness, unlimited access to one's own feelings, increased autonomy and creativity. The individual is seen as the center of his moral universe, and concern for others is believed to follow from his own selfrealization. Thus, psychotherapies assume mat an individual can truly realize his full potentialities only to the extent that he permits and encourages those about him to do the same."
He goes on to further define the role of the various psychotherapies and the treatment of several groups of human sufferers, including the psychotic, neurotic, psychologically shaken, unruly, and the discontented "who suffer from ennui or struggle with the philosophical issues of existence."
A clinical exercise presented by Dr. Hyman L. Muslin acts as the focus of attention for several other points of view, specifically the psychodynamic psychotherapeutic point of view by Dr. John C. Nemiah, the orientation of the learning therapies by Drs. Lee Birk and Ann Brinkley-Birk, the behavioral therapies by Dr. George Saslow, and the group therapies by Dr. Morton Lieberman. In each case, the appropriateness of various psychotherapeutic techniques is viewed as specifically relating both to the presented clinical material and to the general psychiatric population, m addition, Dr. Lieberman focuses on the various self-help groups that have recently arisen in our society, under the leadership of both professionals and nonprofessionals. He touches briefly on the formal grouptherapy movement, particular self-help movements (such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Synanon), the human-potential movement (including sensitivity training and encounter groups), as well as consciousness-raising groups. He sees each of these as fulfilling certain basic human needs, although differing in their specific applicability to subgroups in our population.
In his discussion of psychopharmacology, Dr. Shervert H. Frazier, Jr., presents a concise and reasonably comprehensive overview of this vital area of modem psychotherapy.
The article by Dr. Peter A. Martin on the psychotherapy of marital partners is excellent, taking the position that "the durability or disruption, and the success or failure of a marriage, has little to do with the normality or neurosis of either partner. ... It is the dovetail of needs that is decisive. Reciprocal needs foster a good fit, clashing ones result in disharmony." He goes on to say that "therapy is then directed to reestablishing a former fit, creating a new fit, creating a fit for the first time, or recognizing that no fit is possible with a particular couple."
In the last part of the volume, Dr. Joseph Zubin presents a biometrie approach to the diagnosis and evaluation of therapeutic intervention in schizophrenia. I found the article both stimulating and exciting. He also presents what he describes as a highly controversial point of view. It seems, however, that it is a point of view that more and more workers in the field of schizophrenia have come to embrace. It is the view that "the ecological niche in which man finds himself does determine his well-being, his genetic makeup does limit his potential, his developmental past and learned behavior do confine his future, his internal environment and neurophysiological makeup do control his behavior. And, in fact, we might agree with Dubos that all of these forces are merely the 'stage props' for the drama that man is to enact on the stage of life. However, we have left out perhaps the most important determinant of man's stage behavior - his ability to be a selfstarter, to alter developmental trends, to modify his internal environment as well as his neurophysiological equipment." It seems to me that it is to the ability in man to be a self-starter, to alter developmental trends, and to modify both his internal and external environment that all the psychotherapies are directed. This volume presents an enjoyable and stimulating overview of the psychotherapies and can certainly be highly recommended.