• Charles B. Strozier
  • Daniel Offer


It is fashionable to date the beginning of psychohistory in 1958 with William Langer’s Presidential speech, “The Next Assignment,” to the American Historical Association, and with the publication in the same year of Erik Erikson’s Young Man Luther.1 In one sense the year marked an important change, with the call of the president of the historical association to professional historians to consider motivation in a psychohistorical context and with the publication of what was undoubtedly the first good psychobiography, one that was based in the historical sources and was well written and intelligently conceived. The field since then has sprouted subfields, competing journals, and organizations and has gained some sense of its method. It has influenced the teaching of history at a number of institutions of higher learning and separated itself decisively from its origins as an incidental activity of psychoanalysts after hours. And, finally, psychohistory itself has perhaps influenced culture and politics. A certain psychological self-consciousness pervades contemporary political discourse.


Cognitive Dissonance Theory Professional Historian Psychological Interpretation American Historical Review Unique Moment 


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  1. 1.
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    In 1979 Charles Strozier edited a special issue of The Psychohistory Review, 7 (1979), entitled “Non-psychoanalytic Ventures in Psychohistory.” The issue includes articles by Peter C. Hoffer, “Is Psychohistory Really History?,” J. Harvey Asher, “Non-Psychoanalytic Approaches to National Socialism,” Ur Wernic, “Cognitive Dissonance Theory, Religious Reality, and Extreme Interactionism,” and William Merrill Downer, “A Psychological Justification of Anarchism: The Case of Paul Goodman.” The issue also includes a bibliographic listing of non-psychoanalytic psychohistory put together by William Gilmore.Google Scholar
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    This definition represents Charles Strozier’s adaptation of Faye Grosby’s definition. See Faye Grosby, “Evaluating Psychohistorical Explanations,” Psychohistory Review, 7 (1979), 6–16.Google Scholar
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    Walter C. Langer, The Mind of Adolf Hitler (New York: Basic Books, 1967 [1943]).Google Scholar
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    Bruce Mazlish, In Search of Nixon: A Psychohistorical Inquiry (New York: Basic Books, 1972)Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles B. Strozier
  • Daniel Offer

There are no affiliations available

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