Page 64 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 24

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56
J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
Psychology, Personality, The Psychology of Common Sense,
and
History of Psychology and Psychiatry,
are some of the other books
which stamp him as an influential writer on problems o f per­
sonality and character. These reveal him as a scholar
sui generis
who followed no particular school, a non-conformist with great
synoptical ability and an eminently practical orientation.
Roback’s books bespeak great erudition and evidence a per­
sonal, idiomatic approach to and fascination with colorful
biographical incident. Roback was greatly interested in the
neglected fringe areas of physiognomy and graphology, and oyer
the years the tests he devised have discovered future scientists
by accurately predicting success in this field. (His broad scientific
background is displayed in the comprehensive essay “ The Jew
in Modern Science,” included in
The Hebrew Impact on Western
Civilization,
1951.) He was also interested in folklore, philology,
and linguistics, as witnessed by his book
Destiny and Motivation
in Language,
published in 1954 and the basis of Joseph Berger’s
somewhat extravagant pamphlet
The Destiny and Motivation of
Dr. A. A. Roback.
Chronicler of the Jewish Spirit in Human Culture
Roback the psychologist is inseparable from the chronicler
and staunch proclaimer of the Jewish spirit in human culture.
His
History of American Psychology
(recently re-issued as a
paperback) has a chapter on Gestalt psychology, a discipline to
which Jews have made striking contributions. He asks: “ How
can it be considered a German product if its engineers and
fashioners, with one or two exceptions, were candidates for the
Majdanek and Auschwitz gas chambers, precisely because they
were singled out as un-German by blood?” His book on William
James (1942) contains a chapter on James’s attitude toward Jews
and his Jewish associates. In a book called
Psychorama
(1942), a
term Roback coined to describe “ the particular mental process
or sequence which relates historical events to one another, with
a view to focusing the future in the light of human motives,”
he offers a wealth of Jewish lore. In these sketches and
causeries
reprinted from many periodicals—Roback authored over
2,000
articles on an astounding variety o f subjects—the author ex­
presses his conviction that “ the Jews are the barometer o f the
international situation—indeed, the touchstone of personality.”
This volume contains, among other things, a critique of Freud’s
Moses and Monotheism
(in his later volume
Freudiana
Roback
reprinted letters from Freud in which he managed to draw him
out on the subject of his Jewishness in a way not vouchsafed to
anyone before or since); a fragment of Roback’s long vendetta