J. F. BROWN and Kahl A. MENNINGER : The Psychodynamics of Abnormal Behavior

BY J. F. BROWN, PH.D. Professor of Psychology, The University of Kansas ; Chief Psychologist, The Menninger Clinic WITH THE COLLABORATION OF KAHL A. MENNINGER, M.D. Chief-of-Staff, The Menninger Clinic, on Part IV (Psychiatry)


Publication Information : Book Title : The Psychodynamics of Abnormal Behavior. Contributors : J. F. Brown – author, Karl A. Menninger – author. Publisher : McGraw-Hill. Place of Publication : New York. Publication Year : 1940.


In the brief period of a half century psychopathology, the study of isolated symptoms collected into a sort of curiosity cabinet labeled « The Morbid and Abnormal, » has changed into psychodynamics, the study of the integration and disintegration of the human personality. From the few incomplete descriptions of bizarre behavior which characterized the earlier writings on the subject, we have arrived today at the beginnings of a systematized dynamic science. To be sure we are only at the beginning, but I believe that the time has come to incorporate these systematic aspects in the textbook literature.

It is one of the chief shortcomings of textbooks that they are seldom abreast of the times. I have tried to make this one up to date by adopting the organismic solution to the psychosomatic problem and by treating each behavior disorder systematically in terms of its cause, significance, and economy. So far as I know, no such treatment exists in the textbook literature. By taking the organismic viewpoint of the mind-body problem as a starting point, much space can be saved, which previously would have been spent in debating the organic versus the functional viewpoint. As a slogan for the organismic position we may adopt the following : « Every sample of human behavior, normal or abnormal, presents both a physiological (or organic medical) and a psychological (or psychiatric) problem. » The evidence for this viewpoint will be given through this work. From this viewpoint the problems of psychologist versus psychiatrist, functionalist versus organicist, hereditarian versus environmentalist, will be seen to be meaningless. This viewpoint, furthermore, allows us better to clarify the relationship between psychology and psychiatry. I think we can foresee the time when psychology will occupy as respected a role in the medical and premedical curricula as does physiology today. The psychopathologist will be the research scholar, the psychiatrist the practicing physician. The organismic position is, further, basic to the new science of experimental psychopathology, where psychologist and psychiatrist may come together for really fruitful cooperation.

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