By F. ELKISCH
PSA CHIATRY AND CATHOLICISM, by Vanderveldt and Odenwald (MeGraw-Hill, 47s.).
THIS book is the result of the close co-operation of priest and doctor. It will be extremely useful to anyone who wishes to have a comprehensive but fairly simple outline of one of the many new problems facing Catholics today.
The problem dealt with here is that created by the widespread activity displayed by psychiatrists and the many successes they justifiably claim. It is a significant fact that in 1956 the mental hospital population in the United States decreased by 7.000, while in the preceding years there had been a steady yearly increase of 10,000 to 12,000.
Psychosurgery (chiefly leucotorny), medical treatment (e.g. tranquillisers), and psychotherapy, in its many forms, are discussed in this book with the intention of showing whether and to what extent an infringement of moral law is taking place.
VOR those still reluctant to
acknowledge the value of modern psychology in the treatment of people who break down under the stress and strain of this non-religious age. it will be most interesting to learn that the
merely materialistic approach to psychological difficulties is definitely on the decrease.
In recent years there has been "an increasing trend among psychotherapists to concern themselves with the moral. religious and spiritual conditions of their patients" (p. 184) and the author, quoting from a Viennese psychologist, Dr. Caruso, says that "the objective
of psychotherapy is, after all, not to free the individual from neurosis at any price but to make him capable of bearing his condition in the right spirit" (p. 185).
Every aspect of psychic disorder could not he dealt with in a comparatively short book, but one wishes that an attempt had been made to include the problem of homosexual tendencies among women. This problem is gaining in importance because of the increasing number of unmarried and lonely women and because of the ignorance, generally existing amongst Catholics, of what affectionate expression is allowable and what, frequently, is not a sinful
act but a legitimate sign of affection or tender motherly feelings.
Unfortunately, the price could be prohibitive for many people who, otherwise, could have benefited by gaining a fuller understanding of these problems which exist in so many families today.