The Neurologist's Point of View, by I. S. Wechsler
This collection of papers of the last twenty years, by the clinical professor of neurology at Columbia University, breathes a humor, tolerance, and irony that come from respect for the eons of natural evolution and millennia of history and wariness of the cultural conceits of a few decades. The main themes that recur through the book are the potentialities of neurosis in the historical nature and situation of the Jew; scorn for the pretension and mediocrity of the attempts to flatten out mankind into a dull “normalcy”; and evaluation, mainly laudatory, of the work of Sigmund Freud.
Technically, by “the neurologist’s point of view” Dr. Wechsler means the following: as a scientist strictly of the structure and function of nervous and brain tissue, a neurologist must believe that all mental and emotional disturbance has to show physical traces; at the same time, with regard to most patients, in the present state of knowledge it is often impossible to demonstrate such disturbances and almost always impossible to treat the íllness on a physical basis. Therefore the neurologist, or at least Dr. Wechsler, employs the best means at his disposal, especially the verbal techniques of psychoanalysis, but with the mental reservation that this is not strictly scientific and that some day much of the analytic theory will seem like gibberish. (That tissue-traces will progressively become demonstrable is certain; but whether or not they must necessarily become the central feature in the treatment of mental and social disorders seems to me to depend on a philosophical assumption that the doctor does not go into.) What a curious and subtle attitude this is: a pragmatic realism, a skepticism of all words and symbols and anything but observable facts—tolerance, and yet the single-minded aim to reduce everything to what can be seen!
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