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The Leader pp 59-71 | Cite as

The Growth of Psychohistory

  • Charles B. Strozier
  • Daniel Offer

Abstract

Erikson’s Young Man Luther opened a whole new phase in psychohistory. It became a highly controversial and visible endeavor for the literate public: one New Yorker cartoon in the mid-1970s pictured the locked door of a psychiatric unit with the label “Psychohistorian” above a small window. Among professional historians, profound skepticism developed along with ambivalent curiosity. No convention program after about 1970 was worth its salt without one or more avowedly psychohistorical sessions. The leading historical journals began publishing articles that made clear their dependence on psychoanalytic theory. Interest in psychohistory among psychiatrists and psychoanalysts was less dramatic or intense and also less ambivalent. Psychoanalytic applications to history had had a longer established and more secure place; such applications now simply increased. In 1962, Bruce Mazlish published the first collection of psychohistorical essays, an approach to publishing in the field that has since become quite popular.1 Periodic reviews of the literature and assessments of the “state of the art” became de rigeur for anyone who claimed to be “in” psychohistory.2 Nearly everyone had studied the field to as far back as 1958, when Erikson published Young Man Luther and William Langer summoned historians to their “next assignment.” Some, however, especially psychoanalysts such as Heinz Kohut and Robert Lifton, took a broader perspective, and gradually historians, too, began to place psychohistory in a longer time frame.

Keywords

Atomic Bomb Cultural Revolution Vietnam Veteran Professional Historian Shared Theme 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    Bruce Mazlish, Psychoanalysis and History. The other important collections of essays published during the last two decades include: Explorations in Psychohistory: The Well-fleet Papers, ed. Robert Jay Lifton (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1974); Varieties of Psychohistory, ed. George M. Kren and Leon H. Rappaport (New York: Springer, 1976); Psychoanalytic Interpretation of History, ed. Benjamin Wolman (New York: Basic Books, 1971); and four collections edited by Lloyd DeMause (all of dubious value): The History of Childhood (New York: The Psychohistory Press, 1974); The New Psychohistory (New York: The Psychohistory Press, 1975); (with Henry Ebel), Jimmy Carter and American Fantasy: Psychohistorical Exploration (New York: Psychohistory Press, 1977); and Foundations of Psychohistory (New York: Creative Roots, 1982). The promises and problems of collections without a theme are illustrated in New Directions in Psychohistory: The Adelphi Papers in Honor of Erik H. Erikman, ed. Mel Albin (Lexington: Lexington Books, 1980); andGoogle Scholar
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  3. 2.
    It is only possible to mention here a few representative titles, arranged in chronological order. The best of the lot, an essay seldom read by historians but frequently cited and discussed by psychoanalysts, is Heinz Kohut, “Beyond the Bounds” (1960). Other essays include: Heinz Hartmann, “The Application of Psychoanalytic Concepts to Social Science,” Essays on Ego Psychology (New York: International Universities Press, 1964), 90–98Google Scholar
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  33. 3.
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  42. 8.
    The publisher, Oxford University Press, shared the galleys of the book with Charles Strozier before publication.Google Scholar
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    Note, for example, ibid., the discussion of Erikson, pp. 22-24 and of John Demos, pp. 119-121.Google Scholar
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    Note the discussion forum of Stannard’s book organized by Charles Strozier, Psychohistory Review, 9 (1980), 136–161.Google Scholar
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  52. 18.
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    See, for example, Gordon Fellman, “Leaf in a Storm: Jayaprakash Narayan as Politician and as Saint,” Psychohistory Review, 9 (1981), 183–213; and the essay by Muslin and Desai in this volume.PubMedGoogle Scholar
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    Brugger, ed. Our Selves, Our Past; Albin, ed., New Directions. Note two special issues of The Psychohistory Review: “American Culture,” 10 (1982) and “Psychological Studies of the James Family,” 8 (1979).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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