The Leader, the Led, and the Psyche: Essays in Psychohistory

The Leader, the Led, and the Psyche: Essays in Psychohistory

The Leader, the Led, and the Psyche: Essays in Psychohistory

The Leader, the Led, and the Psyche: Essays in Psychohistory

Excerpt

Is the use of psychology in historical studies legitimate? Put this way, it is obvious that the question is, in fact, rhetorical; for all history is necessarily psychological (it is also much else). How could it be otherwise? Historical inquiry deals with human beings rather than, say, with "natural history"; it concerns itself necessarily with desires and motives--and therefore with the psyche and the psychological.

Thus, the real question becomes: what sort of psychology is the historian to use? The possibilities are many, ranging from seat-of-the-pants psychology (the preferred posture of conventional historians) to various forms of academic and clinical psychologies.

In my view (and that of some others), the most useful psychological method to be applied to historical materials is the psychoanalytic. Psychoanalysis is a general psychology, as well as a therapeutic procedure, which assumes the existence of unconscious as well as conscious mental processes and gives them a very powerful role in human behavior indeed. In addition to paying attention to the unconscious, psychoanalysis is also historical and developmental in its perspective and thus lends itself readily to the way . . .

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