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Symbolic Life

The book contains a presentation of states of nervous anxiety, buttressed by an abundance of case material: in Part I, Anxiety Neuroses, in Part II, Anxiety Hysteria.

The clinical boundaries for either group are flung far afield, taking in much more than existing clinical methods have accounted for.

Anxiety neurosis, especially, is enriched by many new categories of disease, the symptoms of which are taken to be equivalents of anxiety.

By its very nature anxiety hysteria has fluctuating boundaries and tends to merge with other forms of hysteria.

Part III is concerned with the general diagnostics of anxiety states as well as general therapy and, specifically, the technique of psychotherapy.

Now, what makes the book especially attractive is the fact that Stekel, a pupil of Freud, very laudably makes the first attempt to enable a larger medical public to gain insight in the psychological structure of the neuroses.

In his case histories, Stekel does not confine himself to presenting only the surface (as has hitherto been usual), but, following the most intimate individual reactions of the patient, gives a penetrating picture of the psychogenesis in each case and its further progress during the therapeutic effect of the psychoanalysis.

He analyses many cases with great skill and rich experience and in great detail, while others are presented only in psychological outline, which the psychological layman may have difficulty in following.

Such outline presentations, unfortunately, cannot be avoided if the book is not to become inordinately long, even though such cases are hard to understand and can easily lead to misconstruction and to the reproach that the author indulges in rash interpretation.

On the basis of this method, which specifically considers every individuality on its own terms, Stekel can demonstrate that without exception states of nervous anxiety are determined by psychosexual conflicts of the most intimate nature, thereby once more confirming Freud’s assertion that neurotic anxiety is nothing but a converted sexual desire.

Up to now we suffered from a lack of case material in the light of Freudian analysis.

To an extent Stekel’s book fills this gap.

It is very readable and therefore must be highly recommended to all practising physicians, not merely to specialists, for open and hidden neuroses are legion and every physician has to cope with them. ~Carl Jung, CW 18, Pages 490-491