Medicine: Freud? Fiddlesticks!

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Victorian aunts had their own cure for the neurotic. "Fiddlesticks," they would cry, tapping a silver-headed cane firmly on the ground. "Just pull yourself together, dear, and you'll be all right." This outlook, combined with some Nietzschean notions about will power, is the essence of the psychological method practiced by Chicago's Dr. Abraham Low. Vienna-born Dr. Low, 63, who is associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Illinois, heads a growing movement (2,000 members) called Recovery, Inc., and dedicated to a kind of correspondence-school psychotherapy.

The Freudian idea that the neurotic patient is controlled by drives beyond his conscious understanding is repugnant to Dr. Low. Says he severely: "It is inconceivable that adult human life can be ordered without a Will." The Will that orders the lives of his patients is strictly Dr. Low's own.

Coffee & Cake. Recovery, Inc. (a nonprofit organization in which members are nevertheless encouraged to make "freewill offerings") somewhat resembles Alcoholics Anonymous, but instead of keeping members off the bottle, it keeps them listening to Low. The patient joins a local Recovery chapter, meets at least once a week with fellow members to exchange symptoms over coffee and cake. He is assigned the telephone number of a cured "senior" to call when in trouble. Dr. Low treats members through lectures, reinforced by Recovery's 400-page bible, Mental Health Through Will-Training (5,000 copies sold to date), a newsletter, and long-playing records of Low's exhortations at Recovery meetings.

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