Jimmy Carter and American Fantasy: Psychohistorical Explorations

Jimmy Carter and American Fantasy: Psychohistorical Explorations

Jimmy Carter and American Fantasy: Psychohistorical Explorations

Jimmy Carter and American Fantasy: Psychohistorical Explorations

Excerpt

Psychohistory as a profession is now barely five years old. Although psychoanalytic studies of history began with Freud, and although our Bibliography of Psychohistory lists almost a thousand items, the actual birth of psychohistory as an independent discipline belongs only to the 1970s, when we started our first professional journal, our first separate institutes, and our first international association. The number of college courses given in psychohistory has jumped from two to over two hundred in the four years since we began The Journal of Psychohistory , and important psychohistorical works are now appearing regularly, attracting widespread -- if often violently hostile -- attention from the general public. For better or for worse, psychohistory as an independent discipline has begun in earnest.

The popular image of psychohistory, however -- as a club with which to hit the unsuspecting famous over the head -- has nothing to do with what modern psychohistory is about. First of all, although childhood continues to be one main focus of our studies, our professional training demands we achieve an empathy with those we study which precludes the kind of simplistic psychiatric labeling that has often been the style of past studies. Secondly, our studies more and more concentrate on group , not individual, psychohistory, focusing on shared psychological patterns -- a focus which considers the old-fashioned psychobiographical approach as too limited to explain real history.

That our new science of psychohistory is radically innovative, and challenges old ideas of political history, we readily admit. That it is anchored in a growing body of empirical evidence, however, is our only claim to respect. That these psychohistorical explorations will be fruitful -- not only in new insights, but also in helping to avoid the very disasters we ourselves have predicted -- is our fervent hope, one which we know every reader will share.

Lloyd deMause

Henry Ebel . . .

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