Review of Conscience and Society by Ranyard West.

Ellsworth Faris

Dr. West gave up a career of medical re-search to study and practice psychoanalysis, in which field he must be reckoned as an authority. This book, written while the roar of the bombs of the blitz jarred his writing-table, is an attempt to answer the question of the possibility of preventing future wars. His discussion is so objective and so scientific that it might have been written ten years after the conflict when history will have corrected the mendacities of propaganda, pro and con.

The conclusion is that a world-wide Saw must be erected upon human nature as it is and not as our various prejudices make it out to be. He describes the general prejudices of man about himself and others and the special distortions of certain key types of mind. The first chapter is a concise but adequate account of the views of Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau, in which the philosophical views of each are related to the inherent bias of their minds. There follows a review of human government as seen throughout the ages from Burke and Bosanquet to Machiavelli and Duguit, not neglecting Grotius.

Part II is psychological, discussing the theories of human nature and also the actual behavior of man, in which summaries of typical rases from the author's own patients are summarized, one of them running to two hundred hours. In this connection occurs the fairest, most objective, and at the same time most devastating estimate of Freud's theories of normal human nature that this reviewer has ever seen.

There follows a psychological theory of law which emphasizes the impossibility of a man (or a group or a nation) being judge in his own cause, and the necessity of external compulsive law. It is a tribute to the freedom of the press in England that, in the midst of war, a book can be published with the same objectivity as if it were written in 1938, when Churchill said in an open letter addressed to the Chancellor of Germany: "I have always said that, if my country should be defeated in war, I hoped we should have a Hitler to lead us back to our place among the nations." West considers prejudice as one of the causes of our woes, defining it as "the whole system of conscious and unconscious misinformation by which every belligerent people is mentally bludgeoned into the first stage of loyal hatred, which sup-poses a malevolence and brutality to oppose the innocence and rectitude of ourselves, and so builds up and frees that very brutality against us."

He compiles some test questions to illustrate the quiet suppression of half the truth. This is his questionnaire, part of it:

Q. 1. The head of what great nation threatened a small neighbor struggling to maintain independence with war "immediate and terrible" unless it agreed to come at once into its empire? A. (1)England 1921 vs. Ireland; (2) Germany 1939 vs. Czechoslovakia.

Q. 2. What nation persisted in aggressive war against a small people in defiance of public opinion throughout the world? A. (1) England 1901 at vs. South Africa; (2) Germany 1939 vs. Poland.

Q. 3. What great power broke its pledges to a lesser whose claims it had sponsored and guaranteed? A. (1) England 1919 vs. Italy; (2) Italy. 2935 vs. Abyssinia.

The author adds: "The very list arouses bitterness against the compiler."

There is a chapter on loyalty in which it is brought out that the national state which is at present dominant in power is able to command the loyalty of the citizen and to conscript him to fight, though he may be opposed to all wars or to the particular war in which he is compelled to engage. It is contended by the author that loyalty to a world state is possible. "It is not our loyalty or our conscience that is at fault, it is our intelligent'."

International law is held to be an unreal

( 253) fiction. There can be no law without an impartial tribunal to adjudicate and enforce, and international law depends on promises (treaties)which are often disregarded in times of peace and always violated by both sides in time of war. Sovereignty is, likewise, a fiction, and all claims to sovereignty by the national state must be given up. This might be accomplished (1) by voluntary abnegation, (2) by compulsion exercised by two or three powerful states, or (3) by revolution, just when it will be possible to bring this about, no one can say, but the alter-native is a recurrence of wars, and no national state can be said to be securing the welfare of its people which allows the present anarchy to continue.

Of special interest to students of social psychology is the discussion in chapters ii and iii. The .prestige of Freud and the profession of the author lead him to examine the views of human nature advocated by the founder of psychoanalysis. It has been a long time since the defections of Adler, Jung, and Otto Rank denied the fundamental contentions of their teacher. But Jung altered the technique, and Adler shortened it so that many American devotees insist that only Freudians are en-titled to be called psychoanalysts. But Dr. West, Ian Suttie, and others who employ the orthodox technique and who have practiced for years with hundreds of cases are in sharp disagreement with Freud, not on the treatment of neurotics but on the psychological theory of fundamental nature which so Largely interested Freud. It becomes necessary to seek for the explanation of the contradiction. And for the present discussion it has a special relevance, since the abolition of war would be impossible if normal men are as aggressive and as destructive as Freud imagines them to be.

Space will permit here only a bare enumeration of the considerations advanced by the author to account for the fallacies of Freud. In the first place his assumptions are not to be taken at face value but are shown to be the reflection of the mental type to which Freud belonged. Being himself the type called "aggressive-obsessional," Freud was able to complain with great bitterness of the treatment he received from others and to make his estimate of that treatment a- basis' of his unfavorable theory of human nature.

The second point is the indictment of Freud as a scientific thinker. When he had discovered by his new technique that a limited number of neurotics of a certain special type gave accounts of some exciting events of a sexual nature, he made two significant blunders. He allowed the assaults that some of his few hysterical patients were led by his method to imagine they had suffered to deceive him into thinking that they had actually occurred. This is a minor fault, but every dentist is trained to protect himself against the sexual imagination of patients under gas. But the more serious fault of Freud as a scientific worker was to convert what should at most have been a provisional hypothesis, awaiting years of experimental support, into an affirmation, arrived at not by scientific reasoning but by intuition. We find, then, at the outset, that Freud is highly untrustworthy as a scientific worker."

The third point concerns the selection of the cases which are analyzed. With minor exceptions these are (1) neurotics under treatment by doctors; (2) physicians and educators being trained to use the method; and (3) dilettanti who persuade the analyst to accept them as subjects. But, since most of these would probably be of a neurotic tendency, it is clear that the conclusions of psychoanalysis about normal human nature, about what West calls "plain people," are highly questionable.

The conclusions of West, Suttie, Hadfield, and their colleagues, all of whom are qualified practioners of the unmodified technique, differ fundamentally from those of Freud. Aggressiveness and death-wishes are repudiated, love is held to be social and not necessarily sexual, innate hostility to parents is denied, and the view that the family pattern persists in the attitudes toward society is replaced by the position that the social nature of the child manifests itself first in the family-a thorough-going reversal. They conclude that nothing fundamental in human nature prevents the organization of a peaceful world. Many more important things are in this book which sociologists will read with great interest and much profit.

Lake Forest, Illinois


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