In intellectual and academic circles, Ernest van den Haag is respected for his brilliant mind, his outspoken and often highly controversial assertions, and a very unacademic, sharp, biting style.
Passion and Social Constraint, before its adaptation into a book for the general reader, was part of an enormous textbook, which Dr. van den Haag wrote with Professor Ralph Ross called The Fabric of Society. It received an (unprecedented) rave review in the New Yorker: "àthis book is everything a text book should not be--cynical, witty, up-to-date, and shamelessly opinionatedà Altogether a rare treat." It attracted the attention of the experts in psychology and sociology and the devotion of students and will now have enormous appeal to the layman who wants insight into who he is: sexually, psychologically, and individually.
In Passion and Social Constraint, Ernest van den Haag is deeply concerned with the necessity and difficulty of being an individual in a society which tends more and more to standardize every facet of life. Be deals with anxiety; sex, and the problem of-who is normal; the status of women; the authority of parents; the family as an industry in present-day America conflict and power, and who gets what; the "furnished souls" of popular culture; arid why it is that science cannot give us a measure for happiness or for despair. Van den Haag' s style will delight you (some of his phrases are destined for Bartlett), though his judgments will, sometimes stir you to anger.