W HILE THE BRIEF autobiographical sketch contained in the foreword of this volume gives some idea of Dr. Allers' long and diverse experience, it gives no indication at all of his vast learning and scholarly attainments. They, as befits a modest and learned man, only become apparent upon closer acquaintance with him.
The author's knowledge of existentialism, philosophy, psychology and psychiatry are hinted at in the text of this work, but it should also be noted that Dr. Allers is equally proficient as a linguist, a physiologist, a theologian and as a neurosurgeon, for he worked in this rôle in World War I, and the book which he wrote concerning gunshot wounds of the head is still regarded as authoritative.
The lectures covered herein were delivered to an appreciative audience of physicians, psychiatrists and psychologists at the Institute of Living, where he appeared as a distinguished visiting professor in the spring of 1959. Even a casual perusal of the contents of this volume gives evidence of the breadth of learning and ability mentioned above. His demonstration of unitary learning is fascinating as he extracts the essence of disparate doctrines and relates one discipline to another.
The author finds significance in the coincidental rise of psychiatry and existentialism in a post-war world. He sees in it, in addition to other things, the manifestation of a very basic and widespread trend in the present age -- the wide preoccupation of the times with the consideration of "man qua man."
Though we have advanced greatly, the author sees in our present technological civilization a destruction of individual-