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Der triebhafte Charakter, Eine psychoanalytische Studie zur Pathologie des Ich. By
Dr WILHELM REICH. Wien, 1925. Internationaler Psychoanalytischer Verlag. (Neue Arbeiten zur ärztlichen Psychoanalyse, No. Iv.) pp. 132. Price 6 marks.
The exploratory methods of psycho-analysis have proved fruitful in so many extra-territorial waters that one is apt to overlook the strictly empirical necessities which lead to fresh annexations from the realms of academic psychology. In the case of characterological studies, the growth of a new scientific method can be very plainly observed. Psycho-analytic discoveries concerning character were in the first instance a by-product of psycho-analytic treatment of the neuroses. These sporadic observations soon multiplied and were found capable of loose systematisation such as that sketched by Abraham in his Studien zur Charakterbildung (1924). At the same time investigation of certain cases proving refractory during analysis showed that the difficulty was due, in many instances, to the existence of character peculiarities, and from that moment character research became an empirical necessity. This however involved more detailed understanding of Ego-structure and until Freud published his latest views on the nature of the Ego, character study marked time. The present volume by Wilhelm Reich of Vienna signalises the immense impetus given to psychoanalytical characterology by the publication of Freud's Das Ich und das Es. Its claims on our attention do not depend solely on the author's presentation of a subgroup of character abnormalities (indicated in the title). Reich has given us a very clear exposition of the most recent Ego-psychology and has linked this up to his own investigations by a critique of previous character studies. Moreover he has chosen his material from a group the boundaries of which are not limited by current clinical standards. Many of the types described acted at times in a manner which, under existing social conventions, would be vaguely termed criminal or delinquent, and Reich has had an invaluable opportunity of observing the dynamics of treatment under these difficult conditions. Hence his views on treatment alone would entitle the book to careful consideration. It should be added that the author has a quick and speculative intelligence, a vigorous method of presentation and the courage and enthusiasm necessary for tackling a most involved subject.
As has been indicated, the essay, although ostensibly concerned with one variety of character abnormality, has of necessity to deal with other groupings and with character processes in general. It soon becomes apparent, however, that the classification adopted by Reich gives rise to difficulties in correlation. For example, he places his ‘instinctual' (triebhaft) character somewhere between the symptom neuroses and the psychoses, but does not consider that these comparisons of character abnor. malities with states of health, neurosis or psychosis are of much value. A majority of his cases have symptoms of all sorts and, in many of their reactions, correspond closely to schizophrenias. An individual's character may be termed ‘instinctual,' he says, when it is governed by actions and attitudes to environment which are dictated by the Repetition-compulsion (Wiederholungszwang). The impulses in ‘instinctual' character are of a direct unmodified type (oral, anal, sado-masochistic, etc.) as compared with the distorted or inhibited gratification of impulses in other character types. Reich holds the accepted view that the feature by which neurotic character as a whole can be distinguished from a symptom construction is the degree of localization of the latter. A character disturbance is diffused throughout the whole personality, but, when the manifestations are more or less uninhibited, they may be distinguished by the term triebhaft and hence regarded as a special form of neurotic character. His types, moreover, usually exhibit obvious perversions of a sado-masochistic sort. Reich endeavours to give his special terminology some general utility by contrasting his 'instinctual' (triebhaft) character with instinctually-inhibited' (triebgehemmi) character types.
Unfortunately difficulties of classification cannot be resolved by the creation of two large groups made up of the most heterogeneous elements. There are many obvious advantages to be gained by classifying character changes in terms of the degree of modification which the impulses have undergone. But the disadvantages are equally apparent. Although Reich always distinguishes carefully between a symptom and a character abnormality, he is unable to give effect to this in his main character groupings, with the result that whilst he examines instinct credentials at the door, neurotic symptoms and perversions fly in by the window. In the reviewer's opinion Reich has sacrificed valuable clinical and etiological distinctions for the sake of preserving mechanistic unities of a theoretical sort. He has evidently found himself hampered by current conceptions of character abnormalities and would have given himself more elbow-room had he scrapped the entire conception of the ‘neurotic' character as a main group.
The term ‘neurotic character' arose quite naturally. During the psycho-analytic study of neuroses certain character traits were observed. These were found also in * normal'individuals and were held to be due to the imprint left on the Ego during the various stages of libido development. But the neuroses and narcissistic neuroses themselves were found to be associated with disturbances of particular stages of libido development. So that an exaggeration of certain 'normal' character traits might suggest the existence of a predisposition to certain neuroses. In actual fact exaggerated character traits seemed to provide a neurotic 'atmosphere' in many cases, e.g., exaggerated anal traits in obsessional neuroses. When patients presented no striking obsessional symptoms but were found on analysis to present exaggerated character changes of an obsessional type, it seemed simplest to call this pathological state a ‘neurotic character state' or an example of 'obsessional character. Following these lines of observation, it was easy to find evidence of hysterical, manic-depressive character traits, etc. It was clearly essential to understand why one person might present marked character changes with minimal symptom formation or another alternating character difficulties and neurotic symptom reactions; the more so indeed since there are grounds for assuming that repression does not play the same part in character as in symptom formation. There were of course many drawbacks to this clinical subdivision. It is easy to recognize a manic-depressive type of character but a “pervert'character is somewhat of a contradiction in terms (perversion implying direct gratification of component sexual impulses) and of course many other character changes involving environment, e.g., criminality, etc., elude the clinical classification altogether. In Reich's system these are all roped in, but, on the other hand, the dynamic relationship between character and symptom formation goes largely by the board. It could, for example, be asserted with a degree of plausibility that some of his cases were cases of perversion associated with marked character abnormalities rather than examples of triebhaft character associated with perversions.
Apart from this one must examine very carefully his contention that an 'instinctual character grouping can be based safely on the relation of the condition to the Repetition-compulsion. It is true that the more unmodified the instinct drive, the nearer we approach to this compulsion, in the sense that instinct is itself a blind repetition, a stereotyped response operating irrespective of ultimate suitability. But the same can be said of habits, which Ferenczi regards as midway between instincts and conscious adaptations. On Reich's basis a great number of habits which conform in every respect to the admittedly wide standard of 'normality' would have to be included in his ‘instinctual' group.
On the other hand it must be admitted that his method of classification has many advantages from the point view of presentation. It enables the author to give a very instructive review of the processes of Ego-development and of the relations of the Super-ego to instinct modification in normal, neurotic and character cases respectively. If at times some obscurities appear, as, for example, in the relations of the Instinctual Ego (Trieb-ich) to the Real Ego, or where an identical reaction is regarded at one point as normal and at another as a neurotic characteristic (see reactions to the Father-ideal), these deficiencies are more than offset by the clarity with which the subject as a whole is treated. Indeed the only blemish on the presentation is due to the necessity already indicated, viz., that of constantly distinguishing not only symptom and perversion formations from character formations but the function of the former from the function of the latter. For example, when Reich remarks that “in sharp division between the sadistic impulse and guilt we see the typical mechanism of 'instinctual character,'” we are once more faced with confusion between the relations of a neurosis, a perversion and a character change respectively. Indeed it would seem that having called into being an 'instinctually. inhibited' character to act as foil to his ‘instinctual' character, the author rather callously neglects half of his progeny. At any rate in most of his tables of comparison, 'instinctual character is rarely contrasted with ‘inhibited' character, but invariably with symptom formations, with which, from the point of view of function, no character sub-grouping need be compared.
This might be regarded as a captious criticism were it not for the subject matter of the fifth chapter. This opens with the question: How does the 'instinctual' character come to exist alongside of persistent amnesias and repressions? Reich answers this by pointing out that, in normal cases, the impetus to instinct-modification, which is introjected from environmental influences in the form of the Super-ego, coalesces organically' with the Ego. This is not an immediate process and there is a normal phase during which the Super-ego is for the time being 'isolated.' In cases of ‘instinctual' character, this ‘isolation' proves permanent. It implies a miscarriage of dynamic repression and is itself, according to Reich, the equivalent of an act of repression. At this stage the author distinguishes between dynamic and systematic repression. Detached from their context, statements of this sort are liable to produce a feeling of bewilderment. It is only fair to say that many of the phenomena Reich describes and appraises theoretically have already been observed and given theoretical correlation by Freud when sketching the reactions of the Ego to Id-excitations and to Super-ego control. A typical example is that of the conflict in melancholia. It would seem however that Reich has been rather overcome by the strength of the opposing forces in his 'instinctual' character cases and has felt the necessity for a more vivid nomenclature. Or again, he may have been seduced by the charms of topical presentation. Freud however has shown us an example of caution in this respect when refraining from attempts to represent the position of the Super-ego in any topical diagram. At any rate, unless Reich uses the term "systematic'in a different sense from that given by Freud in his description of the Unconscious, any distinction of a 'systematic' from a dynamic' repression seems remarkably like a confusion of thought. It is difficult to see how a system can be legitimately compared with a mechanism. Besides, it was unnecessary to find any original answer to the question Reich asks himself at the beginning of the chapter. Freud has already told us why character changes may exist alongside amnesias and repressions, i.e., that the processes are distinct, repression playing only a minor part, if any, in character formations. A more fundamental problem might have been stated thus: By what re-arrangement of forces does the individual with pathological character changes adapt the processes of 'normal' character formation to meet miscarriages in repression?
On the matter of technique one can have nothing but admiration for the skill and courage Reich has shown in handling his cases, to say nothing of gratitude for any suggestions he makes. These are mainly concerned with the necessity in such cases of a preliminary pedagogic phase in analysis to stabilize Super-ego abnormality. One hopes to get further information on this method in future publications from the same author. Perhaps in the interval the question of psychotic character traits will have been sufficiently ventilated to eliminate confusion as to character groupings or at least to obviate recourse to questionable if attractive additions to metapsychological terminology.
EDWARD GLOVER. The Influence of Tobacco Smoking on Mental and Motor Efficiency. By CLARK L. HULL.
(Psychological Monographs, No. 150.)
Investigations of the effects of tobacco on physiological or psychological processes have been fairly numerous. Those of a statistical nature have been fairly satisfactory as to method, the most carefully conducted, however, being that by Meylan of Columbia in 1910, in which the investigator declined to draw conclusions from his own data when he found them complicated by the fact that among his subjects (College men) the smokers tended more than the non-smokers to be the athletes and the fraternity men, both of which groups ranked low intellectually. The contrasting experimental investigations generally suffered from faulty mathematical treatment or insufficient precautions for elimination of accidental factors.
In a monograph issued by the Psychological Review Co. on The Influence of Tobacco Smoking on Mental and Motor Efficiency, Dr Clark L. Hull commences with a critical review of the researches that have so far been made. In an appendix, he himself corrects the results of defective methods of calculation which he found in several studies. For example, he shows that when the obstacles encountered by Meylan have been allowed for by modern methods of statistical analysis, proper computations from his data show that over and above the effects of athletics and fraternities, tobacco-using is represented by a reduction of 34 points in scholarship, but with a large percentage of probable error. The statistical method, however, remains always open to the criticisms that we can never be sure that other complicating factors like athletics and fraternities may not be present, and especially that, in comparing two separate groups of persons such as smokers and non-smokers, we can never be sure but selective factors may have been operative.
When, however, we come to the experimental method of investigation we are confronted by the task (which previous investigators have not surmounted) of conceiving an adequate method of control. Obviously, if the subject knows when he has been given the dose of nicotine and when the control dose, the results will be complicated by his expectations—and by any secret desires to influence the results.
Dr Hull therefore devised an exceedingly ingenious procedure and apparatus. These were proved by the subjects' introspections to have successfully hidden from all but one of the nineteen subjects experimented on (subsequently to preliminary work while perfecting the technique) the direct objects of the experiment and whether the subject was merely ‘smoking’ a control dose consisting solely of warm air. The data from the one exceptional subject were discarded.
On entering the laboratory, the subject saw various appurtenances of smoking, matches, etc., lying about, and a pipe being scraped and filled with tobacco. His heart beat was first measured. After that he was set at a series of tests, of which the real object was merely to ascertain his normal reactions for that day (since ability generally varies from one day to another) in order that all post-dosage performances might be measured in terms of this day's norm.
But the subject was misled into the belief that these preliminary tests were to be used as the measure of his non-tobacco performance, and that the subsequent tests were to measure his tobacco performance. He was now asked, on a spurious plea, to keep his eyes closed while being given the tobacco dose. 'Lest he should forget' this, a heavy blindfold, with big pads at the sides of the nose, was slipped over his head.
The experimenter now held a pipe to the subject's lips, from which the subject took three puffs, without inhaling. The pipe was withdrawn and re-presented according to a definite rhythm during twenty-five minutes or about the time needed to thus smoke one pipe. This constituted the daily dose. After this, the blindfold was removed, and the subject was made to repeat his previous tests three separate times, the last time being an hour and forty-five minutes after the dose.
On only about half the days was the pipe smoked by the subject, the one he had seen filled with tobacco. On the other days, this pipe was lit and smoked by the experimenter himself, in order to provide the requisite sounds and odour to deceive the subject. On these control days, the subject was given an exactly similar pipe, into the bowl of which had been fitted a clever electric heater. Porous asbestos
plaster, which had been dampened, a few hours before, with some drops of water, provided exactly the requisite humidity and resistance to suction and even an imitation of its sound. Tobacco smoke has probably no taste (salt, acid, bitter or sweet) apart from its odour. Its slight 'bite' on the tongue was imitated by a small amount of overheat.
Confirmed smokers puffed this device with satisfaction, and even blew ‘smoke rings'! Introspections, afterwards signed by the subjects, showed that in no single instance did they suspect that they were not smoking tobacco. One smoker got most enjoyment on the control evenings, and said it would be hard to quit under such (control) conditions. Another commented upon the satisfaction felt afterwards. A third, a non-smoker, felt that such satisfaction as he found from one of the control nights *constitutes a real habit.' These statements are strong testimony to the perfection of Hull's apparatus and technique. Beyond that, they witness to the important rôle played in smoking, by suggestion, oral erotism, etc.
Numerous other precautions were taken, such as engaging the subjects for 20 days of experimentation and then excusing them after the 18th day to avoid disturbances due to excitement at having reached the end of an arduous experiment. But I will now briefly give Hull's results. In these the smallest reliability considered seriously is one yielding 1 chance of error in 20.
Heart rate is (as was also found by both Payne and Dowling) uniformly stimulated by smoking, the effect being still evident after 1 hour and 43 minutes. Habituation to tobacco has little effect towards establishing a tolerance here.
The heart also, after smoking, is also more susceptible to the influence of excitement.
Tremor of the hand is markedly increased during a period of 1 hour and 23 minutes. Habituation seems actually to increase this effect.
Rate of tapping, on the other hand, is perhaps slightly improved in non-smokers, though slightly decreased in smokers, for one hour.
Resistance to fatigue from tapping is also greater in non-smokers after smoking, and for 1 hour and 40 minutes. There is a lesser effect in smokers.
Speed of cancellation may be slightly inhibited by tobacco.
Accuracy of cancellation, however, seems to be increased in approximately the same small ratio that speed is lost. (Reliability, 15 to l.)
Speed or oral reaction to freshly learned material is improved 1 per cent. by smoking. (Reliability, 15 to 1.)
Rate of adding figures is decreased 2.77 per cent. in non-smokers. But in habitual smokers it is improved 5.21 per cent., a complete reversal of effect outlasting 14 hours.
Accuracy of continuous mental addition is slightly lessened with non-smokers. The effect on smokers is uncertain.
Auditory memory span for digits shows loss of 5 per cent. or 6 per cent. in nonsmokers, which loss is as great 1 hour 20 minutes after smoking as immediately after. Among smokers, the loss is about half as great.
Rate learning of geometrical characters and nonsense syllables is rendered 9 per cent. less efficient in both non-smokers and smokers, by a pipe. Recovery occurs in an hour.
In formulating his conclusions from these tests, Hull considers chiefly the results obtained with habitual users of tobacco, on the ground that “the effect of tobacco on people who don't use it is not in itself a practical problem.” This means that the effects of the drug are rather minimized by him. On this point there occurs to me the only adverse criticism I shall venture to offer upon this careful investigation. Namely, where use of tobacco has developed a tolerance, or where the smoker as compared with the non-smoker appears to perform actually better under the stimulation of nicotine, we cannot be sure but that his gains at these times are the result of temporary easement of an unnatural craving set up by previous uses of the drug, and hindering him whenever it is not in process of satisfaction. It would seem that this point can only be settled by experiments in which the cumulative effects of smoking can be studied over a period of months or years.