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The Complete Guide to Hypnosis by Leslie M. LeCron

reviewed by Nathaniel Branden

As hypnosis continues to gain in scientific “respectability,” and its effectiveness as a therapeutic instrument becomes more widely known, there is greater and greater interest in the subject on the part of the general public. Clinical psychologist Leslie LeCron, who has written many well-known technical books on hypnotism, now offers a general introduction to the field for the non-professional.

Beginning with a general characterization of the nature of hypnosis, and the history of its development during the past hundred years, he proceeds to explore the many possible uses of this still poorly understood phenomenon, n such fields as medicine, dentistry, education and psychotherapy.

Although the book is primarily concerned with the uses of hypnosis there is a valuable discussion on the technique of hypnotic induction—with special emphasis on the technique of self-hypnosis—which many readers will find of interest and value.

The title is misleading in that the book is not “a complete guide,” but rather, as I have indicated, an introduction to the field; and not all of the author’s claims for hypnosis can be taken at face value. Nonetheless, the book makes fascinating and informative reading. It is an excellent supplement to Elman’s Explorations in Hypnosis, previously recommended. I think that many Book News subscribers will enjoy it.

[This review first appeared in the Fall 1971 issue (#7) of Academic Associates' Book News and was posted to Objectivist Living with the reviewer's permission on Tuesday, September 12, 2006. Comments and questions are welcome.]

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Hypnosis: Is It for You? by Lewis R. Wolberg, M.D.

reviewed by Nathaniel Branden

The title of this book is a bit deceptive; it might make one expect another “popular” book on hypnosis, of no special depth or significance. In fact, however, the book offers a superb review of the history of hypnosis and hypnotic phenomena, a summary of various leading theories concerning the nature of hypnosis, an excellent discussion of hypnotic technique, and a panoramic overview of the many possible applications of hypnosis, with particular emphasis on uses of hypnosis in the treatment of emotional disorders.

Written by one of the most distinguished authorities in the field, this book is at once a first-rate introduction to the field of hypnosis for those who have had no previous acquaintance with it, and a remarkably penetrating exploration of the various aspects of hypnosis that no practicing psychotherapist can afford to ignore.

I have often felt regret that so many psychologists and psychiatrists choose to remain ignorant of the immense potential value of hypnosis to their work, and entertain many of the same misconceptions concerning hypnosis that are generally found among fearful laymen who continue to associate hypnosis with the mystical and the occult. Fortunately, with every year that passes more work is being done in this field, more papers and books are being written, and more people are learning to appreciate the potential of hypnosis as a therapeutic instrument.

What I especially enjoyed about Dr. Wolberg’s book, aside from the fact that it is extremely well written, very lucid, very precise, is the fact that the book is filled with interesting and illuminating observations about human motivation, neurotic processes, personality development, and so forth. It is truly a book on psychology. In this respect, it is superior to other books that attempt to treat hypnosis in a narrower, more mechanical and therefore less illuminating way.

For anyone who has heard about hypnosis, is skeptical but curious, this is the book to read. For the professional, it is mandatory. For anyone who is interested in psychology, it is a delight.

[This review first appeared in the 1972 Mid-Season Bulletin (between issues #8 and 9) of Academic Associates' Book News and was posted to Objectivist Living with the reviewer's permission on Tuesday, September 12, 2006. Comments and questions are welcome.]

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The World of the Formerly Married by Morton M. Hunt

Reviewed by Nathaniel Branden

Approximately 25% of all marriages in the United States today end in divorce; another 25% end in separation. Very little of value has been written on the subject of the psychological pressures and problems associated with the break-up of a marriage, the nature of the world the formerly married inhabit, the struggle that takes place in their efforts to repair the emotional damage that almost invariably follows divorce or separation (even when divorce or separation is eminently desirable for a couple).

Morton Hunt is an exceptionally talented journalist who specializes in psychological and sociological subjects. In The World of the Formerly Married, he has written a much needed book and has thrown valuable illumination on a painful subject that has largely been confined to darkness.

In his “Prefatory Note,” Hunt writes, “This is a description of the special world of the separated and divorced in America, an eyewitness report on the mores, problems, and experiences of people who inhabit a half-secret subculture outside the realm of conventional marriage and family life. It is neither an analysis of the causes of divorce nor a guide to divorce law, but a picture of how separated and divorced people live.”

As a marriage counselor, I have found this book of considerable value. It is written with the sensitivity, color and perceptiveness of a novel. Hunt provides the reader with a graphic picture of what it feels like to stand at the terminal point of a disintegrated marriage, to face the world as a single person after having been married perhaps ten or twenty years. In helping separated or divorced couples to understand more clearly the nature of the special problems to which they may be subject, Hunt provides them with the means of better coping with such problems. His presentation is so sympathetic, so enlightening, so psychologically astute, that I believe the book will be read with interest and appreciation by a much wider audience than those who happen to suffer from the predicaments and difficulties about which he writes.

[This review first appeared in the Fall 1969 issue (#2) of Academic Associates' Book News and was posted to Objectivist Living, with the author's permission, on Sunday, October 1, 2006. Comments and questions are welcome.]

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The Action Approach by George Weinberg

reviewed by Nathaniel Branden

Occasionally (not often) one encounters a book on psychology which, while it does not present any radically new theory or system, is remarkably instructive and valuable by the sheer power of its “common sense.” Dr. Weinberg’s The Action Approach is such a book.

Dr. Weinberg is firmly of the conviction that people can change—and that the key to change lies in modifying their volitionally controlled actions.

“There’s no sense in blaming yourself,” he writes, “for the fact that you can’t enjoy sex, or that you’re lacking in confidence. If you blame yourself for anything, it must be for actions, since you can control them.” Dr. Weinberg is very adept at showing “how the seemingly small choices a person makes today determine the way he is going to feel about himself and the world tomorrow.”

Early in life, a person may form certain mistaken conclusions; as a consequence he begins to experience certain neurotic emotions; under the influence of those emotions, he begins to take certain harmful or self-destructive actions. Those actions subsequently have a “feed-back” effect, confirming and deepening his mistaken conclusions and intensifying his neurotic emotions. As an adult, he is seldom able to correct his condition merely by recognizing the error in some of his early conclusions—because by now he has established an emotional and behavioral habit-pattern that invades and affects many areas of his life. How is he, then, to reverse the process and move in the direction of psychological liberation? By working at modifying his actions, Dr. Weinberg answers—so that the “feed-back” from those actions begins to work for him in a positive rather than a negative way. It is thus that a healthy re-orientation of his view of himself and of the world is achieved.

This is, of course, not all there to the process of psychotherapy or basic psychological change—but it is a central and indispensable element. It deserves much more attention than many psychotherapists grant it.

Addressed to the general reader as well as to the psychological profession, this book should be of wide interest and value. It can be read with profit by everyone interested in personal development.

[This review first appeared in the Fall 1969 issue (#2) of Academic Associates' Book News and was posted to Objectivist Living, with the author's permission, on Sunday, October 1, 2006. Comments and questions are welcome.]

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Man and Aggression by M. F. Ashley Montagu

reviewed by Nathaniel Branden

The religious doctrine of Original Sin has presented itself in many guises apart from the official Christian doctrine. One such guise is the Freudian theory of an inherited “Id.” Another is the concept of man’s “aggressive drive”—a twentieth century form of Augustinianism advanced by the eminent ethologist Konrad Lorenz (On Aggression), and popularized by such writers as Robert Ardrey (African Genesis, The Territorial Imperative). This view of man as a “natural killer” has gained a wide degree of publicity and public acceptance.

In Man and Aggression, edited by anthropologist Ashley Montagu, fourteen scientists in the fields of biology, anthropology, ethology, etc., undertake a devastating critique of the attempt to explain destructive aggressiveness in human beings by reference to instincts. In his Introduction, Professor Montagu quotes an Old English proverb, “Let him make use of instincts, who cannot make use of reason.” Montagu’s point is that explanation via instincts represents the easy way out for theorists who do not care to inquire into the actual causes of behavior, or—in the case of human destructive aggressiveness—do not care to recognize that such a trait is acquired, is learned, and hence can be unlearned.

Unfortunately (and incredibly), certain advocates of capitalism believe themselves to have found in the Lorenz-Ardrey doctrine a sanction and support for their own views concerning the importance of private property. And, predictably, some of the critics of the Lorenz-Ardrey position are evidently of an anti-capitalist persuasion. But the political issue is totally irrelevant to this issue and should never have been raised by “conservatives” in the first place. Their fascination with the Lorenz-Ardrey position is, if anything, an embarrassment to rational defenders of capitalism.

What is important about Man and Aggression is that is provides valuable clarification concerning the untenability of recourse to instinct as a device of psychological explanation—and, in addition, by exposing the gaping loopholes, non sequiturs and ignoring of contradictory evidence, in the Lorenz-Ardrey position, the book effectively refutes this latest version of Original Sin.

[This review first appeared in the Holiday 1969 issue (#3) of Academic Associates' Book News and was posted to Objectivist Living, with the author's permission, on Sunday, October 1, 2006. Comments and questions are welcome.]

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The Great Psychologists: from Aristotle to Freud by Robert I. Watson

reviewed by Nathaniel Branden

I cannot remember reading a history of psychology with as much pleasure as I derived from The Great Psychologists. Its author has chosen to tell the story of the development of psychological thought—from Thales, Plato and Aristotle to Watson, Wertheimer and Freud—in terms of the leading figures who have decisively affected men’s thinking about man. This biographical approach gives to the development of psychological thought an intellectual drama which it seldom captured in the standard histories.

Especially interesting to this reviewer was the treatment of the psychological theories of Plato, Aristotle and Aquinas—which are treated with greater clarity and in more detail than one usually encounters. The books’ broad coverage gives the reader a panoramic view of the historical development of psychology, told in terms of broad essentials. The Great Psychologists, with its wide range of interesting information about the major historical figures who shaped psychological thought, is a book that can be enjoyed and read profitably not only by students of the psychological sciences but by untrained laymen who wish to understand where the science of psychology stands today and how it evolved to that point.

[This review first appeared in the Holiday 1969 issue (#3) of Academic Associates' Book News and was posted to Objectivist Living, with the author's permission, on Sunday, October 1, 2006. Comments and questions are welcome.]

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Man vs. the Welfare State by Henry Hazlitt

reviewed by Nathaniel Branden

The first book I read in the field of economics, twenty years ago, was Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson. It is still the best introduction to the subject. Now, Mr. Hazlitt has written a new book which is, in effect, a sequel to that earlier work: Man vs. the Welfare State. It is a worthy successor.

Henry Hazlitt is surely one of the clearest writers on the subject of economics; he has an admirable ability to make the most complex issues readily understandable, to achieve simplicity without simplification. No special knowledge of economics is needed for Man vs. the Welfare State. It can be read with profit by everyone.

“In America today,” writes Hazlitt, “most of the older generation—and many of the young—stand appalled at the nihilism of the self-style Now Generation and its demand for unattainable reforms, or merely for the sheer destruction of whatever is established.” Hazlitt sees that nihilism as a reaction against the failure of “liberal” politicians and intellectuals to deliver the instant Utopia they have been promising for decades. The purpose of his latest book is to demonstrate why the statist policies of these “liberals” inevitably lead to socially and economically harmful results.

Here are the titles of some of the chapters in the book, which indicate the kind of issues to which Hazlitt addresses himself: Salvation Through Government Spending—“We Owe It To Ourselves”—Consequences of Dollar Debasement—The High Cost of Wage Hikes—Price Controls—Who Protects the Consumer?—Famines Are Government-Made—Runaway Relief and Social Insecurity – Fallacies of the Negative Income Tax—Soaking the Corporations—Can We Guarantee Jobs?—Government planning vs. Economic Growth—The Case for the Gold Standard—The Fallacy of Foreign Aid—The Task Confronting Libertarians.

The contents of this book should be mastered by every person concerned with the present struggle between freedom and statism. The book provides indispensable intellectual ammunition for those engaged in that struggle, on the side of individualism, individual rights and political freedom.

[This review first appeared in the June 1970 issue (#4) of Academic Associates' Book News and was posted to Objectivist Living, with the author's permission, on Sunday, October 1, 2006. Comments and questions are welcome.]

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2 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

Reprise

This thread began before I entered these OL hallowed gates. I did not even know NB reviewed books or articles after Armageddon.

For some reason the word, "hallowed" made me think of the Harry Potter franchise.  Someone has come out with Harry Potter shoes for kids.

I don't want to see a "redo" of the same Potter series but some new movies with updated content would be fun to watch. Come on J.K. Make another movie and another billion dollars. We'll all go. I promise. 

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6 hours ago, Peter said:

This thread began before I entered these OL hallowed gates. I did not even know NB reviewed books or articles after Armageddon.

For some reason the word, "hallowed" made me think of the Harry Potter franchise.  Someone has come out with Harry Potter shoes for kids.

I don't want to see a "redo" of the same Potter series but some new movies with updated content would be fun to watch. Come on J.K. Make another movie and another billion dollars. We'll all go. I promise. 

NB reviewed many books for Academic Associates.

--Brant

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