The Psychology of Emotion, Morbid and Normal

The Psychology of Emotion, Morbid and Normal

The Psychology of Emotion, Morbid and Normal

The Psychology of Emotion, Morbid and Normal

Excerpt

In addition to its academic, or literary, raison d'être, every book has its human origin. The latter is generally a matter of personal interest; yet, if the author be not wholly responsible for the material he presents, he is under an obligation to disclose as much of the history of the work as may enable the reader to apportion credit or disfavour with fairness. In this instance my duty is unusually urgent for two reasons. Many of the essential data I am now reporting were brought to light by the arduous and patient labour of others. From this standpoint I am merely the mouthpiece of a group of psychiatric investigators working with a particular method. To them, and not to me, is due whatever praise may be allotted for the originality of the observations. On the other hand, throughout the text there are a number of generalizations, theories, speculations—call them what you will—which my collaborators would not claim to have fathered and for which they would, perhaps, not care to stand sponsor. Yet even here it is impossible to discriminate accurately between ideas that I have elaborated and those which I alone originated. When one is in daily discussion with another over work that lasts for years, it is impossible to say which one first suggests that vague direction in enquiry which, months later, crystallizes out in theory. Since, in honesty, I do not know where my peculiar contribution begins, and since I am convinced that alone I could have produced very little of what follows, I am under obligation to tell something of the genesis and development of this book, if not of its tribulations.

I joined the staff of the Psychiatric Institute of the New York State Hospitals in January 1913. At that time Dr. August Hoch had been Director for three years, having succeeded Dr. Adolf Meyer in that position. Both of these pre-eminent psychiatrists had the same point of view in clinical research: that it must begin with painstaking record of what patients say and do, regardless of the pertinence of these observations for any particular theory, and, further, that descriptions of mental symptoms must be put into terms of common speech, so far as is possible, because technical labels tend to obscure individual differences of reactions. In other words that case histories should describe real people and not diseases. Every worker in the Institute was trained to follow these rules. As a result a large mass of material was available for study, equally useful in the elaboration of new theories or of old. Conspicuous among the earlier workers was Dr. George H. Kirby (now Director . . .

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