TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Book-in-Progress on Psychobiography: In Search of the Inner Life
by James William Anderson, Ph.D.
- Interview with Paul H. Elovitz, an Author and Editor of The Many Roads of the Builders of Psychohistory
by Ken A. Fuchsman
- What Is at Stake with the New Documentary “Who’s Afraid of Alice Miller?”
by Marc-André Cotton
- Celebration of Two Recent Publications: Movies, Rock & Roll, Freud and The Many Roads of the Builders of Psychohistory
- The Dawn of Everything as Cultural Phenomenon, or Pre-Publication Sensation of an Anarchist Perspective on Human History
by Ken Fuchsman
- What’s JASPER? Interview with Burton N. Seitler, Ph.D., JASPER’s Editor-in-Chief
by Ken Fuchsman
- Bulletin Board
- IPA Contacts
1. Book-in-Progress on Psychobiography: In Search of the Inner Life
by James William Anderson, Ph.D.
“Even the harshest critics of psychological biography concede that the application of psychology to biography makes sense… But, as even the fiercest proponents of psychobiography admit, psychobiographical studies tend to be reductionistic, narrow, and disparaging. A marked disparity exists between the potential and the execution of psychobiography.”
More than four decades ago, while in graduate school at the University of Chicago, I typed out those sentences. They became the opening words of the paper that initiated my career as someone trying to figure out for myself and share with others what it takes to use psychology to create a convincing, penetrating, readable study of a life. Now I am writing a book, to be published by Oxford University Press, in which I discuss what I have learned in those 40-plus years. I am pleased to have the opportunity to describe in Psychohistory News my book-in-progress.
As the title of the book suggests, I am interested in the kind of psychobiography that attempts to delve into the inner life of the person written about. Although teaching part-time at Northwestern University, I primarily work as a psychotherapist and psychoanalyst. Just as I learn about the inner motivations, strivings, and preoccupations of my patients, I look to discover such workings of the minds of my psychobiographical subjects. I discuss in the book how psychobiographers might gain entrée to the internal worlds of their subjects.
Initially, I thought of the book as a successor to two books that I have cherished for many years: Life Histories and Psychobiography: Explorations in Theory and Method by William McKinley Runyan (Oxford, 1982) and Uncovering Lives: The Uneasy Alliance of Biography and Psychology by Alan C. Elms (Oxford, 1994). I do indeed draw on the insights of those authors, but I realize now that neither of them looked in-depth at “methodology,” that is, what is involved in writing high-quality psychobiography. So my study will be the first full-length book that searches into key topics that I will now briefly describe.
Back in graduate school, when computers were relatively new and I wrote that initial paper on methodology, I heard the phrase “garbage in, garbage out.” It meant that no matter how many operations the computer could do on the material fed into it, the results could be no better than the quality of that material. The same principle applies to psychobiography. The resulting work can be no better than the information on which it is based. Research, therefore, is the foundation of psychobiography, as it is for virtually any kind of history. If anything, research matters especially for psychobiography because we are trying to learn about the intricate workings of the mind, and not just any information from the person we are studying enables us to get there.
We rely, of course, on materials such as letters, the subject’s memoirs, and interviews with the subject or those who knew the subject. But there is also a special category of material that a psychobiographer prizes. I’ll mention here one of my favorite anecdotes. Leon Edel, well before he even considered working on a biography of novelist Henry James, was studying James’s little-known plays. Edel was given permission to look for play manuscripts in the unsorted boxes of James’ papers at a Harvard library. He found the manuscripts, but he also noticed several odd pages in which James’s secretary had written down some psychotic ramblings voiced by James in the period after he’d had a severe stroke. James apparently thought he was Napoleon. These transcripts intrigued Edel, and he made a copy of them. Years later, when Edel had decided to write a biography of James and returned to the library for his research, he learned that the pages had been thrown out. But since he had copies, he was able to make use of them. They proved to provide a valuable doorway into James’s secret view of himself as being an all-conquering hero. The subject’s fantasies—also material such as dreams, Freudian slips, humor, and art—offer the psychobiographer a glimpse into the subject’s hidden inner world.
Mentioning what Edel called James’s “life-myth,” I turn to the topic of narrative identity. Perhaps the chief original contribution of the book will be a consideration of how an understanding of narrative identity benefits the psychobiographer. For that topic, I am fortunate that my friend and colleague, Dan McAdams, who is the foremost contemporary personality psychologist (in my opinion, and in that of many others), is writing the chapter with me. Dan’s research has shown that people have a view of themselves that they reveal in the stories they tell about their lives. One goal for a psychobiographer is to analyze the subject’s stories to get at the person’s self-identity.
Consider, for example, a passage Henry James wrote to his brother William when he found himself despairing over his fear that he could not afford $10,000 to buy the home he deeply desired to live in. Such a home, he commented, was the least he deserved. Many of his fellow authors, “the ‘literary’ fry,” live in “splendour,” he wrote. And yet, he went on, “I feel that I may strike the world as still, at 56, with my long labour & my genius, reckless, presumptuous & unwarranted in curling up… in a poor little $10,000 shelter.” As a result, he concluded, “I do feel the bitterness of humiliation, the iron enters into my soul, & (I blush to confess it,) I weep!” We can learn a lot about James from this little story he tells about himself. He feels himself to be a genius, far above many contemporary novelists—something like a Napoleon of letters—but his painful disappointment that others haven’t appreciated him overwhelms him so that he is reduced to tears.
Always with psychobiography, we have to take culture into account. Obviously, if someone studies a person from a different culture—such as Erik Erikson writing about Mohandas Gandhi—the author must be aware of the differences in customs, values, assumptions, and so on. But anytime we examine someone from an earlier era, we have to consider that that person lived in a substantially different culture from ours. With James, for example, what did homeownership mean at that time, how were novelists honored and how were they paid, and just what was the value of $10,000 in 1899 when he wrote the letter?
Psychobiographers can go wrong if they don’t acquaint themselves with the culture of the person they are studying. But I also disagree with those who claim it is impossible to understand someone from the past. By possessing familiarity with the subject’s culture, a psychobiographer can empathize with that person. Distance in time does not keep us from relating to the joys, sorrows, fears, concerns, and aspirations of our subjects.
Use of Theory
Another of the ways psychobiographers can go wrong—and this is probably the most common error—is by foisting a psychological theory onto a subject. I cannot count how many psychobiographies have failed because the author blanketed the poor, defenseless subject with the Oedipus complex or some other psychological construct that the author happened to fancy. Here is an extreme example I came across recently. Rudolph Binion, in his study of Lou Andreas-Salomé, a novelist who was close to Friedrich Nietzsche, Freud, and Rainer Maria Rilke, asserts he knows the “source of her psychic growing pains.” Based on the flimsiest evidence, he tells the reader that the source was “a craving for her father excited by excretion and attended by darkling visions of reentering his bowel-womb to repossess his penis.” Binion has concocted a far-fetched theory based on two of Freud’s concepts—the anal stage and the idea of girls believing they have been castrated—plus speculation about people having a desire to go back to the womb
I warn psychobiographers to use theories; don’t let the theories use you. Theory should open up, not close down; provide new questions, not easy answers; complicate, not simplify; and produce possibilities, not reductions.
Psychobiographers’ Relationship with Their Subjects
Yet a third way psychobiographers can run aground is by having a relationship with their subject that throws them off course. Sigmund Freud, who collaborated with William Bullitt on a psychobiography of Woodrow Wilson, admitted in the preface that he hated Wilson; predictably, the resulting work drips with contempt for the American President. A similar problem results when the author idealizes the subject; the resulting work is unrealistically favorable and fails to provide a balanced portrait of the subject. Consider the priest and psychoanalyst William Meissner writing a study of Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the order, the Jesuits, to which Meissner belonged. The subtitle is a dead giveaway: “The Psychology of a Saint.” (To be fair, Meissner provides much convincing analysis of Ignatius, but still, his admiration of Loyola’s faith colors his depiction of the saint.)
Having such psychological involvement with a subject can be a problem. But to choose a subject and persist in studying that person in-depth, psychobiographers have to possess a powerful attraction to the individual on whom they lavish all that effort. Moreover, psychobiographers have to relate intimately to the subject; they have to be able to put themselves into the subject’s shoes to understand that person. Authors have a dilemma, the need for a deep connection, but the danger is that such a connection will result in a fatally biased work. Hence I recommend that psychobiographers be aware of themselves, of their feelings, likes, dislikes, hates, and loves. Then they have a chance of writing penetrating but fair and balanced profiles of their subjects. Psychobiography is not the product of a machine making a depiction of a robot; it consists of one human being engaging with another.
The Art of Interpretation
All of that is preliminary, in a sense. The psychobiographer is self-aware, has a sense for cultural differences, is on the outlook for finding narrative identity, knows how to utilize theory, and has gathered sufficient research materials of the right kind. Then the author has to do something with all that material, has to interpret it and to read into what is significant and what is chaff about it.
There are some guidelines that the psychobiographer can follow. Especially useful are the Alexander-Demorest Indicators of Salience, created by Irving Alexander and extended by Amy Demorest. (Here also I have some help; Demorest is providing for the book a description of the system.) The Alexander-Demorest approach counsels the author to look in the material for indicators of what is important and worth paying attention to. For example, an item that comes up frequently is likely to be significant. Yet omission can also indicate importance; if some episode is left out that ought to be present, then a psychobiographer concludes it almost surely matters. Another example of an indicator of salience is uniqueness: something that is odd or unexpected.
Runyan has provided criteria for evaluating interpretations. He notes that the psychobiographer considers the logical soundness of an interpretation and how consistent it is with the full range of available evidence. The bottom line, though, is that interpretation is an art. Psychobiographers have to rely on their intuition, experience in studying lives, and lifetime of observing and understanding people. I’ll add too that immersion in great literature helps. Sigmund Freud, Karen Horney, D. W. Winnicott, and Erik Erikson were among the most perceptive psychologists, but none of them had the penetrating understanding displayed by William Shakespeare, George Eliot (Marian Evans), or Leo Tolstoy.
Psychobiography of Creative Artists
Mentioning those authors takes us to the next topic. I look at creative artists, as they are of particular interest to psychobiographers. There is a special fascination about these figures; it seems mysterious that a person can create a novel, painting, opera, or film. I present a framework for the study of these apparent magicians, which I illustrate by looking at playwright Arthur Miller and novelist Edith Wharton.
Miller was intrigued by a note Tolstoy made in his diary: “Art is a microscope which the artist fixes on the secrets of his [or her] soul and which shows to people these secrets that are common to all.” Elaborating on Tolstoy’s comment, Miller observed, “Tolstoy said that we look in a work of art for a revelation of the soul of the artist. For an artist to put his [or her] soul in a work of art, he [she] can’t act. It has to be for real.”
Relying on their self-knowledge, Tolstoy and Miller both held the view that artists draw on their inner selves. I would phrase it this way: in creating their work, artists rely on that which haunts, obsesses, troubles, and moves them. It seems to me that it could not be otherwise. What could possibly feed artists’ imagination except for their inner concerns, conflicts, and preoccupations? I endeavor to provide a framework for viewing the psychology of artistic creativity.
Psychobiography of Fighters for Justice and Equality
There is a second category of subjects whom I look at: people who made a major impact through struggling against oppression. I focus on three women from different eras: anti-slavery activist Sojourner Truth; the indefatigable first-lady, Eleanor Roosevelt; and psychologist Carol Gilligan. I consider how, fueled by their own travails, they transformed their personal difficulties into making a difference for others who suffered in similar ways.
I will end with another of my favorite anecdotes. B. F. Skinner believed that behaviorism, of which he was a major and perhaps the founder, bested other psychological theories. He was a fervent opponent of psychoanalysis. He wrote a three-volume autobiography in which he insisted behaviorism was the superior way of understanding himself, indeed, of understanding all people. Buried in the three volumes was his account of the following incident. As a young man, he was devastated when his girlfriend, whose name began with the letter N, dumped him. He describes how he reacted: “For a week I was in almost physical pain, and one day I bent a wire in the shape of an N, heated it with a Bunsen burner, and branded my left arm. The brand remained clear for years.” Skinner does not even try to use his psychological framework to describe what motivated him. I imagine he knew that would be futile. Because people act in such ways as the love-struck Skinner did, the kind of psychology I advocate for the psychobiographer is indispensable.
 Anderson, J. W. (1981). The methodology of psychological biography. Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 11: 455-475; p. 455.
 Skrupskelis, I. K. & Berkeley, E. M. (1994). The correspondence of William James: Volume 3. Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, pp. 78-79.
 Binion, R. (1968). Frau Lou: Nietzsche’s wayward disciple. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, p. 6.
 Freud, S. & Bullitt, W. C. (1966). Thomas Woodrow Wilson: A psychological study. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
 Meissner, W. W. (1992). Ignatius of Loyola: The psychology of a saint. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
 Gussow, M. (2002). Conversations with Miller. London: Nick Hern, p. 18.
 Skinner, B. F. (1979). The shaping of a behaviorist: Part two of an autobiography. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, p. 137.
James William Anderson, PhD, is Professor of Clinical Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University. A faculty member at the Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute, he is a past President of the Chicago Psychoanalytic Society. He has written about the methodology of psychobiography and has published psychobiographical studies of William and Henry James, Woodrow Wilson, Edith Wharton, D. W. Winnicott, Henry A. Murray, and Frank Lloyd Wright.
2. Interview with Paul H. Elovitz, an Author and Editor
of The Many Roads of the Builders of Psychohistory
By Ken A. Fuchsman
PHE: This book is mostly about 37 out of the many hundreds of people who have contributed to the field of psychohistory in the last half-century. They come from many different backgrounds and write about a great variety of subjects that extend from applied psychoanalysis, political psychology, and psychobiography to psychohistory. Here is what two of the seven colleagues who wrote endorsements for the volume said:
Pamela Steiner of Harvard writes that The Many Roads of the Builders of Psychohistory “will impress the reader with the rapid and overdue development of the fascinating interdisciplinary field” of “psychohistory,” as well as “a needed reference and much more.”
Claude-Hélène Mayer, a full-time psychology professor at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa, writes that it’s “a ride through the landscape of psychohistory with all its facets, giving insights into the life and work of extraordinary scholars. It is a milestone on the road of psychohistory.”
KAF: How is the book divided, and what does each category add to our understanding of psychohistory?
PHE: After the general introduction and following each separate overview to a variety of subjects, it is divided according to the primary discipline of the author. Thus, we have 12 historians, 11 psychologists, three medical doctors, three independent scholars, two anthropologists, a political scientist, a literature professor, and a social worker. Many are trained in multiple fields. In their work, there is a distinction between psychoanalytically trained historians and those who are strongly influenced by psychological and psychoanalytic insights. There is even greater variation among the psychologists with those who are psychoanalytically trained inclining to approach their subjects differently than those who come from academia.
KAF: What can the readers of this book hope to learn about the varied lives and careers of these scholars?
PHE: Readers will learn a great deal about the careers, contributions, and lives of the psychohistorians, as well as the methodologies of these talented colleagues. A few have gone into great depth in describing their journeys within psychohistory. For example, the title of my chapter, “The Struggle to Understand My Road to Psychohistory: Moving Away from Anxiety, a Low Self-Image, and Childhood Fears to a Life of Intellectual Leadership,” reveals this approach.
KAF: In my reading of the book’s essays, one thing that stands out to me is that many were shaped by the intellectual milieus of the 1960s and 1970s. What are the things in the book that stand out to you?
PHE: The 60s and 70s were a period of enormous openness to change intellectually as well as socially and politically. In this period, Americans began to speak more openly about psychology, specifically child abuse, gender, post-traumatic stress disorder, sexuality, and trauma. Despite the conservative reaction to these fertile decades, contributors deepened our knowledge of the applied psychoanalytic and psychological paradigm. The diversity of the roads that these colleagues took to psychohistory interests me as does the large variety of their contributions.
KAF: Given the essays in this book, if you were to write a supplement to your The Making of Psychohistory: Origins, Controversies, and Pioneering Contributors (Routledge 2018), how would what is contained in this volume add to the history of psychohistory?
PHE: In referring to The Making of Psychohistory, I usually have to catch myself that I have not unconsciously referred to it as The Makers of Psychohistory. I have always seen psychohistory as a group achievement. It was always my intention when Routledge published the first history of our field to solicit as many autobiographical articles as possible by my fellow builders of the field. My colleagues have written about their journeys including their major challenges, accomplishments, experiences, and ongoing projects in psychohistory. The contributors may or may not see themselves primarily as psychohistorians or even as psychohistorians at all, but these colleagues contribute significantly to the growth of our field.
KAF: In the history section, one notable thing is the number of contributors who studied under historian and psychoanalyst Peter Loewenberg. What has made him such an influence and mentor?
PHE: Peter Loewenberg’s contributions to psychohistory are enormous. Certainly, Geoffrey Cocks, Nellie Thompson,* David Lee,* Jack Fitzpatrick, David James Fisher,* and others have been influenced directly by Peter or by his work (*=not included in this volume). At our 44th annual International Psychohistorical Association (IPA) conference Peter, at the age of 90, gave a brilliant presentation combing political birth order, peace studies, psychology, and psychobiography. He has been a significant influence on me, encouraging my involvement in reaching out beyond the IPA and including me in his activities.
KAF: A number of the contributors discuss how Erik Erikson’s writings were their first experiences with psychohistory and psychobiography, which helped draw them to the field. What made him such an influence, and to these writers, a giant in psychohistory?
PHE: Erikson’s writing was an enormous influence on colleagues because he was such an influential psychoanalyst who demonstrated that psychohistory could be done. Personally, I preferred Norman O. Brown’s study of Martin Luther to that of Erikson. The main problem was that Erikson’s ambivalence about the field led him to not want to use the term psychohistory, which influenced Robert Jay Lifton to generally not use the term after co-editing Explorations in Psychohistory: The Wellfleet Papers in 1974. Lifton functioned as a psychohistorian but rejected it as a separate field of inquiry.
KAF: It seems to me there is an elephant in the room. A good number of the contributors talk about Lloyd DeMause as an inspiration, facilitator, and divider. DeMause stands out as someone who both brought psychohistory to public attention and alienated many once drawn to him. In particular, a number mentioned his theory of the fetal origins of history. Describe what this is and why it turned so many in psychohistory away from Lloyd DeMause?
PHE: Lloyd’s legacy is enormous and quite mixed. I can’t say enough about his contributions to our field: He brought together a talented group of colleagues first at Institute for Psychohistory and then when he founded the IPA. When I suggested in 1975 that we should not wait a whole year for another summer meeting of the Institute for Psychohistory workshop but instead meet every month or every other month to develop the paradigm of psychohistory, Lloyd readily agreed. For seven years he provided a meeting space in the impressive seminar room of his publishing company on Broadway in Manhattan. In terms of publications, his “The Evolution of Childhood” is an extraordinary piece of scholarship that broadened our knowledge of childhood historically. The History of Childhood Quarterly, soon to be transformed into the Journal of Psychohistory, provided a forum that grew the psychohistorical community. At its height, Lloyd reported having 8,000 subscribers. He created Psychohistory Press and even a newsletter for a talented jobless colleague to edit. Lloyd published extensively and encouraged colleagues to do the same.
However, to have a realistic history of the organized psychohistorical field, you must recognize the ways in which, as well as being an inspiration and facilitator, he tragically drove away colleagues. Lloyd came forth with ideas that he introduced by beginning sentences like, “You’re going to think this is outlandish or crazy, but through my research, I’ve discovered…” and then introducing terms such as fantasy analysis, the fetal origins of history, etc. While we were trying to digest and determine the validity of his ideas just as “psychohistory as a science,” he would go off and declare the fetal origins of history based on a theory and only fragmentary evidence.
Lloyd often took our breaths away. When he announced the fetal origins of history, one of a group of three Boston historians who drove down for institute meetings broke out laughing and went into a fetal position on the floor. While still influenced by psychohistory, Marty Quitt and his extraordinarily bright medieval historian friend gave up editing this newsletter and distanced themselves from the field. As a publisher of newsletters, Lloyd had learned that shock draws people’s attention, but in an academic endeavor, it also drives people away. If readers want to know more about deMause’s contributions and negative impact on the reputation of psychohistory, they should read some of the autobiographical accounts in The Many Roads.
KAF: Another recurring motif is the experience of those who experienced trauma in their native lands and then came to America. This includes those impacted by the Holocaust or living in the Soviet Union, among others. How has the experience of living through European traumas shaped important psychohistory approaches? What have the experiences of these immigrants taught us about what should be important within psychohistory?
PHE: The traumas created by Hitler and Stalin drove large numbers of Jews and others to America where they made enormous contributions to science, psychoanalysis, and many other fields. Refugee intellectuals firmly established psychoanalysis in America and played key roles in developing the ideas of survivor’s guilt, post-traumatic stress disorder, psychogeography, identity formation and crisis, and so forth. Erik Erikson, Erich Fromm, Peter Loewenberg, William Niederland, and Judith Kestenberg are a few who come to mind. Early in the days of the Psychohistory Forum, refugees from Europe, including many Holocaust survivors, played a major role in our activities. Inna Rozentsvit and Peter Petschauer are good examples of talented, hardworking immigrants who are contributing to our field of psychohistory. Inna carries the traumas inflicted on her family by Stalin while Peter has had to struggle with the impact of the Nazis on his family and the farm family who cared for him in the German Alps.
KAF: This book is a major contribution to psychohistory. Paul, you have reason to be proud of originating and putting this volume together. Anyone interested in psychohistory needs to read this book.
PHE: Thanks, Ken, for encouraging colleagues to buy and read the book. The price has deliberately been kept low at $24.99 for the paperback and $19.99 for the e-book.
Paul Elovitz, PhD, has a doctorate in history and was trained and practiced as a psychoanalyst. He is the author of The Making of Psychohistory, founded and directs The Psychohistory Forum, and is editor of Clio’s Psyche, which he also founded.
Ken Fuchsman, EdD, is past president of the International Psychohistorical Association, is content editor of the Psychohistory News, and is an emeritus professor from the University of Connecticut. He is the author of Movies,Rock & Roll, Freud, and co-editor of a book on Donald Trump and one on Michael Eigen.
3. What Is at Stake with the New Documentary “Who’s Afraid of Alice Miller?”
by Marc-André Cotton
On Saturday December 4th, 2021, the Object Relations Institute (ORI) and the International Psychohistorical Association (IPA) will jointly present the documentary Who’s Afraid of Alice Miller, followed by an online discussion with film maker Daniel Howald and main protagonist Martin Miller, and lectures on the topic of intergenerational transmission of trauma the next day (see the program at https://events.orinyc.org/alice/).
Alice Miller, the world-famous advocate of children, is at the center of a controversy involving her son Martin, who denounced the abuse he suffered in his family and uncovered his parents’ family secrets. But on the other hand, Martin Miller is also a psychotherapist who supports her mother’s theories on trauma. On Sunday, he will make a lecture explaining this apparent contradiction and his comprehension of his own traumatic past with Alice Miller as a mother (for an update on this controversy, read Marc-André Cotton, The Secret History of Alice Miller, Psychohistory News, Vol. 40, No 2, Spring 2021, https://regardconscient.net/earchives/2105thesecrethistoryofalicemiller.html).
Indeed, one might be tempted to say that Alice Miller had some good ideas but did not put them into practice. That there was a public character and that we discover here a dark part of herself, almost a lie. In reading her books, we have all built up an idealized image of this unconditional advocate for childhood. We have resonated with her message and projected onto her our own unresolved suffering. In particular that of not having been heard in our deepest wounds when we were children. Alice Miller opened our eyes to what could have been, to what should have been. The feeling of betrayal can be all the stronger and in order not to remain fixed on this image of an ideal mother, we must put things in perspective.
Like each of us, Alice Miller had a family history and a life path. She was about thirty years old when she discovered psychoanalysis. Her entire childhood had been marked by a strict religious family environment that she compares to a narrow mountain valley in her introduction to her third book Thou Shalt Not Be Aware (1981). With psychoanalysis, she suddenly found herself in a vast plain that made her want to become aware of the imprisonment of her childhood. It was not until twenty years later that she discovered the spontaneous practice of painting, and even later that she wrote The Drama of the Gifted Child (1979), where she began to tell her story.
My own lecture will focus on the importance of her works that has changed our understanding of psychotherapy and helped open eyes to the extends of ordinary educational violence she coined as Poisonous Pedagogy, and to its dire consequences. She also helped democratize the idea that we need to do some work on our childhood as parents to better support our own children in their emotional needs. It is a multidimensional perspective that originates in the heart of the child’s repressed experience within his or her family circle, and leads to the most cruel collective dynamics, such as National Socialism, which directly impacted her as a Polish Jew born in the interwar period. Alice Miller supported our psychohistorical movement early on, welcoming the research carried out by Lloyd deMause and others, in the 1970’s.
I will focus on her critics of the Freudian theory of drives she came to disapprove of gradually. Indeed, as Alice Miller familiarized with John Bowlby’s attachment theory, she came to endorse the distinction between true and false “Self” as introduced by Winnicott. It was the spontaneous practice of painting that allowed her access to her own truth, from 1973 on. This approach also helped her to free herself from the intellectual and conceptual constraints in which her education and training had confined her. Including those of psychoanalysis, which she openly criticizes in Thou shalt not be aware: Society’s betrayal of the child, published in 1981.
I’ll talk about the originality of her therapeutic approach—her “theory of trauma”—which is a true Copernician revolution putting the child’s feelings at center stage for the analytical work. Today, the psychodynamics of trauma have been corroborated by neuroscience. In the 1990’s, the discovery of mirror neurons gave a better understanding of the child’s permeability to his or her parents’ repressed emotions, for instance. Traumatic amnesia is also a well-studied phenomenon, as are the dissociative processes resulting from post-traumatic stress disorders. All this information is available to the general public.
Alice Miller deplored the fact that society as a whole resolutely sides with the adults and ignores the reality of child sacrifice. Fortunately, this is no longer entirely true for the most severe abuses. But the tendency to minimize the emotional experience of children is still widespread and impacts all of our societies. She saw this collective denial as a way of protecting ourselves from our own suffering as children, in particular through the development of what she called “shield theories”—intellectual constructs that justify reproducing what we have suffered from, such as the drive doctrine derived from a strictly Freudian heritage.
Marc-André Cotton is the IPA’s International Vice-President and an active member of the IPA’s Parenting Working Group. Marc-André is also a founder of French Website Conscious Perspective (https://regardconscient.net/edefault.html) and a contributor to the PEPS magazine that focuses on positive parenting.
“And what is more painful to a child than to suffer from the mother’s unconscious?” (Alice Miller)
by Krystyna Sanderson
I’m both excited and anxious about my presentation in December as it will be the first time in my life that I’ll be talking about how my mother’s WWII trauma affected her and how it was transmitted to me. As a psychoanalyst I believe in the power of healing when there are witnesses that one trusts. Martin Miller’s very public disclosure about his mother’s war trauma was transmitted to him made a huge impression on me and gave me courage to look at how my mother’s trauma affected her and then me. I hope and trust that it will help others to get in touch with their intergenerational trauma. I believe honesty begets honesty and truth begets truth.
Marc-André Cotton is the IPA’s International Vice-President and an active member of the IPA’s Parenting Working Group. Marc-André is also a founder of French Website Conscious Perspective (https://
Dr. Krystyna Sanderson is a licensed psychologist and psychoanalyst working with individuals and couples. She is an instructor at the Psychoanalytic Training Institute of the New York Counseling and Guidance Service and at the Blanton-Peale Graduate Institute and the Harlem Family Institute. At the IPA, Krystyna founded the Transgenerational Transmission of Trauma Working Group
4. Celebration of Two Recent Publications: Movies, Rock & Roll, Freud and The Many Roads of the Builders of Psychohistory
On January 15th 2022 there will be a one-day virtual conference entitled Movies, Rock & Roll, Freud. It will consist of two presentations on rock, two on film, and two on Freud. Psychoanalyst and historian David James Fisher will speak on Leonard Cohen’s song, Famous Blue Raincoat. Analyst Jack Schwartz will also speak on rock music. Historian Geoffrey Cocks will talk about Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, and noted psychoanalyst Susan Kavaler-Adler will address the 1939 version of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. Ken Fuchsman will present on the relationship of Sigmund Freud’s late 1890s theories with his own emotional ambivalence about fathers. The title of this conference is connected to Dr. Fuchsman’s recent book, Movies, Rock & Roll, Freud published by ORI Academic Press. For any questions, to register, or for more information email . This conference is co-sponsored by the International Psychohistorical Association, the Object Relations Institute and the Psychohistory Forum.
On Saturday, February 12, 2022, there will be a second publication celebration. It will be for The Many Roads of the Builders of Psychohistory (2021, ORI Academic Press), edited by Paul Elovitz, featuring 32 autobiographies of contributors to psychohistory and much else. In this book, Dr. Elovitz divides the writers into a variety of categories: professional historians, academic and clinical psychology, medicine, additional social science fields, humanities, as well as independent scholars. Fifteen of the contributors are psychoanalytically trained and ten are by or about scholars who have doctoral degrees in history. Presentations will be from colleagues of varied backgrounds. Following these papers, there will be a discussion amongst those with different training and experience to see how their training impacts how they approach psychohistory and what each believes is central to the field. For more information or to register, contact Ken Fuchsman at . This event is sponsored by the International Psychohistory Forum, the Object Relations Institute, and the Psychohistory Forum.
5. The Dawn of Everything as Cultural Phenomenon, or Pre-Publication Sensation of an Anarchist Perspective on Human History
by Ken Fuchsman
It is not uncommon for authors whose works combine a study of the past with a certain angle on human psychology to avoid calling their work psychohistory. What is strikingly unusual is for such works to become prepublication sensations. David Graeber and David Wengrow’s The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity, which has psychohistorical characteristics, has had articles appear in prominent periodicals about their book before its November 9, 2021 publication date. This includes a reportorial piece in the New York Times, a review in The New Yorker, another in The Atlantic, a long review in The Nation, and two more in The Guardian, amongst others.
Whatever the reasons, this early interest in an academic work such as The Dawn of Everything is extraordinary. According to the New York Times, there was such a pre-publication demand that the publisher ordered 75,000 more copies. On the Amazon’s charts for best-selling books, a few days before the official release date, The Dawn of Everything was #10, ahead of books by Katie Couric, Huma Abedin, and Matthew McConaughey. Then the New York Times on November 4th published an opinion piece attributed to Graeber and Wengrow entitled “Ancient History Shows How We Can Create A More Equal World.”
One reason for all this attention to Graeber and Wengrow’s work is that it makes such bold claims about not only our history but also our prospects. Another is that in the last quarter of a century, works claiming to cover the full scope of human history have become quite popular. Since the 2015 release of his Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Israeli historian Yuval Harari has turned this subject into a cottage industry. He followed Sapiens with Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, as well as 21 Lessons from the 21st Century, and the recent Sapiens: A Graphic History, Volume 2: The Pillars of Civilization. Globally, the original Sapiens has sold 16 million copies. Harari is in the footsteps of geographer Jared Diamond’s various books on the deep human past beginning with 1997s Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, which won the Pulitzer Prize, sold over 2 million copies, and has been succeeded by a number of Diamond’s books that are variations on related themes. This is not to exclude Bill Gates, who helped popularize the theme of deep history as promulgated by Australian historian David Christian.
Graeber and Wengrow’s new book fits into a contemporary intellectual/cultural trend. As Jared Diamond’s work on the deep past was not written by a historian, the same is true for authors of The Dawn of Everything. The recently deceased Graeber was an anthropologist and Wengrow is an archeologist.
In addition to the quality of their research and their distinct points of view, a reason for the attention to their book is the notoriety and eminence of David Graeber. He was initially widely known for his central role in the Occupy movement and summarily dismissed from his anthropology faculty position at Yale for no stated reason, but which many assumed was for his political stances and his works, Bullshit Jobs: A Theory and Debt: The First 5,000 Years.
What follows below is not a review or critical analysis of the 700 page The Dawn of Everything but a review of what some of these aforementioned periodicals say about this book. It is sort of a cultural report about a work that can be called psychohistory in the broad sense but has not been so categorized in any of these articles.
Three of the aforementioned pieces begin by focusing on David Graeber. Former Yale English professor William Deresiewicz’s review in the October 18th The Atlantic is subtitled “A brilliant new account upends bedrock assumptions about 30,000 years of change.” Deresiewicz mentions that without knowing anything about Graeber, he cold-called called this Yale anthropologist to help him with a project related to his own literature specialty. The one-time English professor writes, “Five minutes into our lunch, I realized that I was in the presence of a genius…. I had never experienced anything like it before. I quickly went from trying to keep up with him, to hanging on for dear life, to simply sitting there in wonder.”
Deresiewicz continues by commenting that Graeber “established himself not only as among the foremost social thinkers of our time—blazingly original, stunningly wide-ranging, impossibly well read—but also as an organizer and intellectual leader of the activist left on both sides of the Atlantic, credited, among other things, with helping launch the Occupy movement and coin its slogan, ‘We are the 99 percent.’”
In a similar vein, Northwestern University historian Daniel Immerwahr started his review in the October 4/11, 2021 issue of The Nation by evaluating the Occupy movement in downtown Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park and Graeber’s central role in it. Immerwahr says that Graeber was “a major anthropological theorist…. a free-range thinker specializing in questions of hierarchy and value but interested in virtually everything.” The Northwestern historian also says that the anthropologist’s “academic career had faltered when he was denied tenure and effectively locked out of the US academy.” Graeber did find academic refuge in England.
New York Times journalist Jennifer Schuessler’s October 31st report is entitled “What If Everything You Learned About Human History Is Wrong?” Schuessler writes that Graeber was an “anthropologist and anarchist activist who became famous as an early organizer of Occupy Wall Street.” She also describes him as someone who “had been hailed as one of the most brilliant minds in his field.”
The book itself originated out of mutually stimulating exchanges between Graeber and Wengrow first in New York and then in London. They had so many stimulating interactions with each other that before they knew it, they had begun thinking of and then writing The Dawn of Everything, which took a full decade to complete.
Of the five pre-publication actual reviews of the book already mentioned, two were written by historians, one by a former English professor, and two by journalists. We will have to wait to see what anthropologists and archeologists say about Graeber and Wengrow’s magnum opus.
The New Yorker’s review of The Dawn of Everything by journalist Gideon Lewis- Kraus appeared online on November 1, 2021, and in print in the November 8th issue. He sees the book as “a lively, and often very funny, anarchist project.” It “is an almost hallucinatory vision of the human epic as a series of idiosyncratic digressions.” The authors “reject the logic of technological or ecological determinism.” They detail how human history before and even during the appearance of settled agricultural communities took diverse, often innovative forms, and that there was no intrinsic development from agriculture to hierarchical, stratified societies. Agricultural settlements could develop systematic achievements and cities without turning to administrators to get things done.
Lewis-Kraus asks “if cities didn’t lead to states, what did?” He then says that Graeber and Wengrow “think it involved the extension of patriarchal domination from the home to society at large.” Later, the journalist quotes Graeber and Wengrow, “Humans may not have begun their history in a state of primordial innocence, but they do appear to have begun it with a self-conscious aversion to being told what to do.” Graeber and Wengrow see much of human history as a rebellion against patriarchal authority in the name of liberty and freedom. Lewis-Kraus says the authors “define freedom as the freedom to move, the freedom to disobey orders, and the freedom to imagine less hierarchical ways of organizing ourselves.”
If The New Yorker journalist is accurate, then Graeber and Wengrow’s perspective seems to parallel Erik Erikson’s view that American male “descendants of the Founding Fathers… continued to cultivate the role of freeborn sons.” They were “in fear of ever again acquiescing to an outer or inner autocracy.” Graeber and Wengrow then seem to present an Oedipal view of human psychology: humans both develop patriarchal institutions and rebel against being ordered around. Graeber and Wengrow’s leftist anarchist focus on not obeying orders has an affinity with conservative libertarians who maintain that the government has little or no right to place restrictions on individual freedoms.
Lewis-Kraus says that to the authors of The Dawn of Everything, “the first step forward is a reminder of the past we deserve.” This seems to imply looking backward to a time when social inequality and deference to authority were not the order of the day.
The other journalist to review The Dawn of Everything prior to the book being in print was Andrew Anthony in The Guardian on October 18, 2021. Anthony says this is a “richly provocative book” which is also “a boldly ambitious work that seems intent to attack received wisdoms and myths on almost every one of its nearly 700 absorbing pages.” Anthony says the authors “maintain, prehistory was a time of diverse social experimentation, in which people lived in a variety of settings, from small travelling bands to large (perhaps seasonally occupied) cities and were wont to change their social identities depending on the time of year.” He sees Graeber and Wengrow as portraying prehistoric communities as making their own decisions on how to live rather than being compelled to live in certain ways. They were “masters of their own trajectory,” Anthony says. Our human predecessors, Anthony attributes to the authors, had “a shared sense of freedom: of movement, to disobey command.” To Andrew Anthony, the strength of the book is how Graeber and Wengrow lead us to rethink our assumptions.
There are limits to their exposition. Anthony says that both anthropology and archeology are fields prone to speculation and that Graeber and Wengrow too often fall into that trap. To him, these also collaborators never give a satisfactory answer to how and why so many human cultures came to leave their freer way of life to “become ‘stuck’ in a system of hierarchies and conspicuous inequalities of power and consumption.” Anthony’s criticism seems to raise Erich Fromm’s question as to what would lead so many to embrace an escape from freedom.
There are few such reservations in William Deresiewicz’s review. He details how Graeber and Wengrow describe the conventional view of our history from being hunter-gatherers to agriculture, cities, civilization, and eventually the modern era of industrialization, capitalism, large state and bureaucracies, where following orders is par for the course. Graeber and Wengrow, Deresiewicz says, “demolish” the notion that our species is “passive” when confronting “material forces.” The history these scholars present is “far more interesting: textured, surprising, paradoxical, inspiring” than the versions that preceded it. For there is no step-by-step advancement in human activities.” For “complex symbolic behavior” were present in the early periods of human history. Our predecessors consciously organized societies, apportioned work, distributed power, and practiced politics. When agriculture emerged, it was, Deseriewicz writes, “merely one element within a mix of food-producing activities.” When cities appeared, he writes, many showed “no sign of centralized administration: no palaces, no communal storage facilities, no evident distinctions of rank or wealth.” The state itself, the authors claim, may not be inevitable.
Deseriewicz finds that “anarchist values” are “everywhere implicit” in The Dawn of Everything. Still, the authors recognize we are enmeshed in a world of authority. The former English professor writes, “How did we get stuck?” the authors ask—stuck, that is, in a world of “‘war, greed, exploitation [and] systematic indifference to others’ suffering’? It’s a pretty good question.” Graeber and Wengrow want to know how “people started losing that freedom to imagine and enact other forms of social existence.” Deseriewicz is not sure what realistic alternatives there are, then says, “But stuck we certainly are.” He embraces Graeber and Wengrow’s critique that humans in the industrial world of exploitation, war, and indifference to suffering are often the main characteristics of our contemporary human industrialized world and that in the process our freedom has often been undermined. Is The Dawn of Everything then in the same tradition as Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents?
Oxford historian David Priestland’s review for The Guardian is dated October 23, 2021. Priestland seeks to place the work in an intellectual and historical context. He mentions not only recent works such as those of Harari but also psychologist Steven Pinker on the Enlightenment and our better angels and political scientist Francis Fukuyama’s books on political order. All of them seem to promote that history has moved in stages from the hunter-gatherer state to agriculture and forging political states and urbanization. Pinker in particular champions a version of Enlightenment as progress. Graeber and Wengrow are out to debunk such inaccurate assessments of both the human past and the advantages of life under the statist rule. The historian also mentions such predecessors of Graeber and Wengrow as the Russian anarchist Peter Kropotkin’s 1902 Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution and anthropologist Marshall Sahlins’ essay on the original affluent society being the hunter-gatherers.
Priestland says that in reviewing the human past, the authors “stress the sheer variety and hybridity of early human societies – hierarchical and non-hierarchical, equal in some respects and not in others.” But above all, they “make their sympathies clear: they admire experimentation, imagination and playfulness, as well as mastery of the art of not being governed.” The anarchist sensibility and the freedom it purportedly brings are favored by Graeber and Wengrow. Still, to Priestland, “it’s unclear how effectively” they make “the case for anarchism. Sceptical readers will be driven to ask: if states in their current form are really so unnecessary, why have they become so dominant across the world? To address this, Graeber and Wengrow would have needed to offer a much fuller account of why modern states emerged, how they could have been avoided and how we might live without them.” Priestland’s critique then is that Graeber and Wengrow did not make sufficient historical and intellectual arguments regarding the reasons for the predominance of states and how humanity can do away with them. In other words, Preistland thinks they did not make a sufficient case for anarchism, which can provide a viable way of life for humanity in the here and now.
Historian Daniel Immerwahr’s review in the October 4/11, 2021 issue of The Nation is the earliest of the reviews and the one that made me aware of the book. Immerwahr divides his treatment of the book into two sections. The first details the history of the past, which the historian says are without “structures of domination.” He says the “fundamental, electrifying insight” of the book is that our “forebearers crafted their societies intentionally and intelligently.” As do later reviewers, Immerwahr says that “the ubiquity of hierarchical states today is the challenge that any anarchist history must confront.” He writes, “If states aren’t inevitable, why are they everywhere?” However, Graeber and Wengrow do not really attempt to answer the question. They give “quick hints and hypotheses…. it’s not clear that they want to give an answer.” To Immerwahr, The Dawn of Everything is “less a biography of the species than a scrapbook.” The volume “isn’t the story of change over time but a high-spirited tour of political diversity.” The faith of the writers is that as Homo sapiens “lived without states before, they can do so again.” From what Immerwahr describes, it appears that the anarchist’s perspectives helped Graeber and Wengrow find and present a more diverse, intelligent record of humanity’s earlier periods. But they were not as good at developing their own anarchist perspective in ways that could adequately explain why humans, who did not like taking orders, evolved into a species that is enmeshed in a statist, hierarchical world.
Why then did The Dawn of Everything become such a phenomenon even before it was published? We cannot leave out the efforts of the publisher, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, to get copies to significant periodicals early on to create a buzz. Another reason is that David Graeber had a reputation as both a media sensation and a brilliant scholar. Graeber and Wengrow’s willingness to take on the popular works of Jared Diamond, Yuval Noah Harari, Steven Pinker, and Francis Fukuyama also helped. To me, another major reason for the attention given to the book is the variety and substance of the research on the innovations and psychology of Paleolithic and Neolithic social life. There is certainly much in this work that connects history, anthropology, archeology, and psychology.
Psychohistory itself is designed to interconnect the past with our psychology. Can we do so without comprehending the long career of Homo Sapiens? Also, does full psychology not need to incorporate the diverse and universal frames of mind across cultures and throughout our 300,000-year existence as a species? Much of Western social science scholarship has recently been criticized based on an unrepresentative sample of research subjects. This has been called WEIRD, which stands for Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic. I conclude by asking: can there be adequate psychology without an anthropologically informed comprehensive psychohistory? The Dawn of Everything is one necessary stab at making sense of our complex past.
Ken Fuchsman, EdD, is past president of the International Psychohistorical Association, is content editor of the Psychohistory News, and is an emeritus professor from the University of Connecticut. He is the author of Movies,Rock & Roll, Freud, and co-editor of a book on Donald Trump and one on Michael Eigen.
6. What’s JASPER? Interview with Burton N. Seitler, Ph.D., JASPER’s Editor-in-Chief
by Ken Fuchsman
What does JASPER stand for? I’m glad that you asked that question. It’s always good to begin with basic definitions. J.A.S.P.E.R. is an acronym that stands for the Journal for the Advancement of Scientific Psychoanalytic Empirical Research. It is an international journal of peer-reviewed psychoanalytic research perspectives, proposals, and probes. We have contributors who hail from Argentina, China, England, France, Germany, and, of course, the United States. We are open to these and, of course, other venues as well.
What is the mission of JASPER? Simply put, JASPER intends to put to rest the ideas that psychoanalysis cannot be studied and its corollary that the corpus of psychoanalysis has no research to back up its theories. Both notions are incorrect. As a matter of fact, JASPER recently won the prestigious Gradiva Award from the National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis for an article that listed well over 300 psychoanalytic/psychodynamic research studies (see JASPER, 2018, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp. 63-103).
But JASPER’s goals are more than just demonstrating the value of psychoanalysis. If that were our sole intention, our posture would be defensive and no new ground would be broken. We respect the traditional underpinnings emanating from the early psychoanalysts with their emphasis on drives. It is our hope to use their work as a springboard to going beyond classical positions in the hopes of furthering our understanding of the forces (internal, intrapsychic, and external, interpsychic) that make humans what they are. Accordingly, we are interested in publishing solid studies that investigate sensation, perception motivation, interpersonal interplay, and interactions in a meticulous, precise, and thorough manner. Of course, the unconscious (das Unbewusste) plays an important role in our thinking about these manners and how it ultimately influences behaviors like transference, countertransference, resistance, our dreams, and other derivatives that may be seen in humor, parapraxes, defenses mechanisms, symptoms, and so forth. These topics form the brick and mortar materials upon which JASPER is built.
Beyond that, those of us who believe in this project wanted JASPER to demonstrate that research need not be stuffy, stodgy, or stultifying, but rather interesting, informative, possibly controversial, and also fun. It requires walking a very delicate balance between seriousness and respectability and imagination and creativity. We have had short articles for works that were in their proposal stages, as well as observational works that examined poetry and seeing if the use of methods of assessing words that currently exist could be applied to measuring poems. In a future issue, we will take a specimen dream and subject it to quantification. I’m very excited by that prospect. Our upcoming issue will have an article that proposes a means by which the effects of ethnic humor also might be evaluated quantitatively.
What in your own journey drew you to become a psychoanalyst? As a child, I was beset with a great many fears, some of which emerged as nightmares. I recall quite vividly experiencing a series of nightmares that contained a repetitive theme. They became so frightening that I could not/dared not fall asleep. Out of sheer desperation, I finally decided to try to figure them out. I was very young and had no idea who Freud was, much less his The Interpretation of Dreams (1899). All I knew was that I was desperate for an answer, something, anything that would explain and possibly spare me from my nightmares and subsequent intense fear of falling to sleep. So—analyze them I did. Apparently, I understood their meaning sufficiently so that they never returned. Now, when I reflect on those days, I cannot fathom how I was able to do that at such a tender age. But you know, sometimes necessity, coupled with severe emotional anguish, can be the mother of invention. Years later, I read The Interpretation of Dreams, and also William James’ take on dreams, and my fate as a would-be analyst was sealed.
What in your experience inspired you to found and edit this particular journal? In Graduate school, I ran into a professor who openly railed against psychoanalysis, even to the point of singling out and attacking specific universities for teaching psychoanalytic thought. He adamantly maintained that psychoanalysis had no scientific basis and even tried to get one of my teachers fired for being psychodynamic in orientation. I suppose it was then that I thought that it was important to see if psychoanalysis did—or did not—stand up to scientific scrutiny. For many years, I thought that a journal was necessary that explored the question of whether psychoanalysis was scientifically supportable as a theory and as a practice. I searched for such a journal, but no psychoanalytic journal existed whose sole specific purpose was to explore things scientifically. Some journals contained research articles here and there, but none were completely devoted to research questions per se. I watched and waited for years. As time passed, I told myself that much smarter people than I would have seen this need and would have filled it, if it were possible. After all, what experience did I have creating a journal, much less editing one? The last time I did that was in high school when I was the editor of my fraternity journal, Shoulder to Shoulder (and yes, we had fraternities in Forest Hills High School).
I interpreted the fact that nobody had filled this obvious gap as a sign that the task was not possible. And, even if it was doable, I would not be sufficiently capable of getting it off the ground. But I never lost sight of my still nascent notion. I recall attending a Ferenczi conference and consulting with a couple of editor friends of mine who provided rather enlightening information and unexpected insights into the realities associated with editing a journal. Peter Rudnytsky (then Editor of American Imago) confided to me that many people do not take on the role of editing a journal—not so much because of greater or lesser intelligence—but simply because it is hard work and they do not want to do it. That stuck in my mind and resonated strongly with me. Yet it still was not enough impetus to sufficiently get me going at that time. Ultimately, what finally made me do it was the fact that I did not want to look back on my life with the knowledge that I had seen a need and was too afraid to attempt it. Advancing age then tilted the balance. I decided that whether I was successful or not, I could not go down without at least trying. I then went about assembling all of the pieces as I saw them, one by one.
What were the challenges in getting the journal up and publishing? How did you put together a Board of Directors and finance this journal? You really have three questions here rolled into one. Let me take what turned out to be the easiest task of them all—assembling a Board of Directors and an Editorial Board. My wife, Jeanne, and I have traveled to many conferences all over the world, have presented a wide array papers and an assortment of topics ranging from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder to psychosis to psychoanalytic aspects of illiteracy to forced hospitalization to soma psyche. Some of those papers were subsequently published. As part of this, we developed panels and invited a number of colleagues with whom to make our presentations. In short, because I worked closely with people I liked and respected, it was not difficult to ask them if they would be interested in becoming members of my Editorial Board. Most were quite modest about doing this. Bertram Karon, for example, said that he did know that his expertise would be adequate for such a journal, despite the fact that he produced wonderful research in the course of his eminent career. Horst Kächele, an internationally respected researcher/psychoanalyst, expressed excitement about JASPER and immediately agreed to join up. Harold Bursztajn, Marilyn Charles, Michael Eigen, Jean-Max Gaudilliere, Francoise Davoine, Christine Dunbar, and Elizabeth Young-Bruehl, all well-known clinicians (as well as a host of others—please see Editorial Board on my JASPER1.org website), were quick to offer their support. I don’t know if they joined up because they believed in me or because my project captured their interest. Perhaps both. I had only one person turn me down and that was because her plate was beyond full and no more could be added to her already heavy load.
The initial financing also went well. A donor who both believed in me and the future of psychoanalysis came up with a sizable amount of seed money to get JASPER off the ground. This was supplemented by a grant given to us from the Philadelphia Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology. Their assistance with our initial start-up costs was unbelievable, and we might have crashed before we ever took off had it not been for their belief in and the backing they provided for our mission.
Since that time, our costs have had to be offset solely by subscriptions. This is because we accept no advertisements from big pHARMa, government, or other special interests. This allows us to have an independent voice and to follow the evidence where it may lead us rather than be open to the charge that we were swayed or even possibly corrupted by external influences.
The major challenge, one that all authors (much less founders of a journal) face—to one degree or another—is finding a publisher. I was strangely fortunate. I went to a number of conferences and at each one, I approached the tables where various publishing houses proudly displayed their wares. I pitched the idea of a journal to a couple of them. One of those was Routledge. A few days after the conference ended, I received an email saying that one of their colleagues to whom I had just spoken days earlier had alerted them about my idea. They asked me to submit a formal proposal. I sat down, and about 40-some odd pages later, emailed it to them. Upon receiving my proposal, they, in turn, made me an offer. However, the negotiations were complicated by the fact that another group also was interested in creating such a journal. Imagine that, after all these years, when no one was advancing such an idea, now there were two of us—the other group from a very prestigious university, no less. How was I to compete with them?
I took the proverbial bull by the horns and approached the other group and suggested to them that it might be better if we could combine forces rather than compete with one another. They agreed to consider my offer. This went on for an extended period of time. Eventually, it turned out that the other group admitted that because they emanate from academia, things necessarily move very slowly and added that if I and my people were ready to get things off the ground, they would step aside—which they did. I was now free to exclusively negotiate with the publisher (technically, the publisher’s representative). For reasons which I do not wish to get into, I discontinued my association with that publisher. Dr. Arnold Richards then stepped in and asked me if his group (International Psychoanalytic Books) could match or do better than the people with whom I had been negotiating, what would I say? I remember telling him that “we would have a conversation.” We met, we had a conversation, we had lunch. The rest is history.
Of all the psychoanalytically related journals, what does JASPER have to offer that other such publications do not? As I indicated above, JASPER is solely devoted to psychoanalytic research. Because we believe that empirical research must be based upon careful observations from which its hypotheses and inferences are drawn, we move from the qualitative to the quantitative. As with physics, not everything can be studied. We don’t fool ourselves about that. Unlike physics, we are a much younger science. Our methods of investigation are still being developed. Also like physics, some things cannot be demonstrated yet. In physics, it is currently impossible to demonstrate that light is made up of both particles and waves. Studies can show one or the other quite well but are not able to demonstrate the presence of both. Yet, the greater probability is that both are intrinsic components of light. One day, perhaps, our methodology will be capable of going much further and deeper than we are currently able to do.
JASPER is also interested in being current and topical. For example, we were originally going to publish a special issue on how to subject dreams to quantitative analysis. Instead, we felt that the current state of events necessitated devoting two special issues to “isms,” which include racism, authoritarianism, antisemitism, and even a category that is rarely ever considered (but is probably the one that constitutes the highest incidence of bias in the world), childism. Our upcoming issue will have papers on those very important and pressing topics.
What in your own experience of being a psychoanalytic therapist led you to wish to see more scientific research within psychoanalysis? Why is scientific, empirical research important for psychoanalysis? There is a sense of satisfaction when a prediction is made and it comes true in a reliable, consistent way. It makes all those times when life is chaotic much more endurable, simply because I know other things can be counted on. It is a great relief that nine plus seven is always 16, that there are some reliable standards that do not vary or which my obsessional ideation can’t “out-reason” and trick me. In an otherwise post-modern, relativistic world where subjectivity often rules (especially in the consultation room), it’s nice to know that some things are constant. Reality testing in our own field is greatly aided by research, otherwise we would have what Freud referred to as “wild analysis.”
What do you see as the ideal relationship between psychoanalytic empirical research and clinical training and practice? At this time, there is a great deal of suspiciousness and standoffishness between researchers and clinicians, each group viewing the other as misinformed about what the other does. Sadly, the images that have been formed of members of the other group are typically caricatures. But, if we look more closely, these groups have a great deal in common. For example, because psychoanalytic clinicians regard maintaining “the frame” as essential, this constitutes the baseline for good research. It has even been said that every analysis is a piece of research. Clinicians closely watch for and are ever alert to changes observed in the treatment room. They wonder what brought about such changes and ask themselves and the patient questions about what just took place. Is this terribly different from what researchers do? While there certainly are distinctions of one group from the other, if they are able to understand that researchers are not attempting to force analytic square pegs into round holes or to manualize psychoanalytic praxis so that it becomes a paint-by-the-numbers activity, some of the suspiciousness mentioned above may abate. I am starting to see that now, as more and more clinicians, like myself, venture deeper into the world of dependent and independent variables.
The ideas of transference, countertransference, resistance, etc., can actually be measured. Moreover, neuropsychoanalytic studies have confirmed many psychoanalytic propositions. This bodes well for psychoanalysis. There are by no means perfect measures that fit every circumstance, but what we have covers sufficient territory that some hypotheses can be tested. For example, my wish is to be able to subject ethnic humor to the test. This would be a valuable contribution to understanding when such humor is deleterious and when it is not (assuming that occasions when it does no damage can be found).
What kind of review process is there for articles to be evaluated? Every article that is submitted first comes to and is read by me. I then send it on to two additional reviewers on our editorial board, who then render their opinions about whether the article is well written, supports the claims it purports to make, and adds to or corrects particular psychoanalytic understandings. I usually try to match up the nature of the article with reviewers who have some expertise in the area under consideration. They return the manuscript to me with their comments and I pass that information on to the author(s). Essentially, there are three categories: (a) accept the paper as-is (rare, but possible); (b) accept the paper with suggested corrections, revisions, or emendations; or (c) reject the paper (we try to be kind when we do this and suggest alternative forms the paper might take that might improve it). We also try to make the time between submission and publication as short as possible.
What to you have been the highlights of JASPER so far? Are there particular issues of the journal or specific articles that you find have best met the purposes of the journal? Although as a start-up journal we have only been at this for a short time, there have been some special moments. I’m proud of all of our authors and the faith they showed in our mission by entrusting their work to us. It would be easy to say that my favorite article was the one that was given the Gradiva Award, with the provocative title—“Who Sez Psychoanalysis Ain’t Got No Empirical Research to Back Up Its Claims: An Extensive Bibliographic Compendium of Studies.” However, I do not regard that as one of our finest pieces. There are several that stand out.
Cynthia Baum-Baicker wrote an insightful two-part qualitative analysis “On Defining Clinical Wisdom.” Martin Cosgro provided quantitative research regarding “Developing the Cosgro Superego Assessment Scale.” Larry Rosenberg, V. Barry Dauphin, and Ghislaine Boulanger provided a pilot study about “The Impact of Psychoanalytic Consultation for Therapists Working in the Public Sector.” Denis J. O’Keefe wrote a very timely paper investigating the question of “Quality or Quantity: A relational Re-Conceptualization of the Contact Model and Impact of Quantity and Quality of Contact with Immigrants.” Matthew Shang offered insights into “The Cultural Adjustment of Chinese-Born Males to the American Masculinity Paradigm: Issues of Identity and Self-Image in First Generation Chinese-American Male Immigrants.” Brian D’Agostino connected “Militarism and the Authoritarian Personality: Displacement, Identification, and Perceptual Control.” Carter J. Carter offered us his thoughtful ideas “Towards Antiracist Psychoanalytic Research.” Joseph Schachter, Judith S. Schachter, and Horst Kächele raised questions and examined “The Training Analysis System’s Manifold Problems: An Alternative Conception Proposed as a Solution.” In another paper, they also asked “Would Patient-Analyst Contact After Psychoanalytic Treatment Enhance Long-Term Effectiveness?” Sarah Pouliot and Barry Dauphin utilized the “Voice Representation Survey:The Role of the Maternal Voice in Object Representation.” Gregory J. Stevens produced research examining “Reverie and Psychotherapeutic Technique: Public Surveys on Attention, Understanding, and the Alliance.” William R. Meyers sounded the alarm against despotism in his two-part article “The Rhinoceros and the Rowboat: Themes of Irreality in World Press Accounts of Modern Dictators.” Of all of these—and ones that are still being received—I have no favorites. They all represent different and exciting aspects of psychoanalytic thinking about and approaches to life’s events.
Is there a specific subscription price for JASPER? If so, what is it? There are three rates: (1) Institutions pay $250; (2) students pay $75; and (3) all others pay $110/year
How does someone become a JASPER subscriber? Just send a check to:
9 Post Road
Oakland, NJ 07436
Is it true that Monte Irvin, the New York Giants 1950s left fielder, was one of the first JASPER subscribers? It is absolutely not true that Monte Irvin was one of the first JASPER subscribers! Impossible. Unthinkable. It would be utterly ridiculous to believe that Monte Irvin would be a subscriber to JASPER before Willie Mays. That would be a particularly preposterous presumptive perspective, period!
If there are any other questions, Burton N. Seitler, Ph.D., may be reached at: jasper1.org or by phone at: 201-259-0274. (Calls from Willie Mays will be given extra special priority.)
Ken Fuchsman, EdD, is past president of the International Psychohistorical Association, is content editor of the Psychohistory News, and is an emeritus professor from the University of Connecticut. He is the author of Movies,Rock & Roll, Freud, and co-editor of a book on Donald Trump and one on Michael Eigen.
Burt Seitler, PhD is a psychoanalyst, who is former Director of the Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy Studies program of the New Jersey Institute for Training in Psychoanalysis in Teaneck, teaches at Adelphi University.He is editor of JASPER.
7. BULLETIN BOARD
Winter 2021-2022 Virtual Conferences
Sponsored by IPA, ORI, Psychohistory Forum & Clio’s Psyche
Who’s Afraid of Alice Miller? – Virtual Conference on Transgenerational Transmission of Trauma and Parent-Child Development – based on the film by Daniel Howald, “Who’s Afraid of Alice Miller?”
Movies, Rock & Roll, Freud – Virtual Conference inspired by recent publication by Ken Fuchsman, Movies, Rock & Roll, Freud.
The Many Roads of the Builders of Psychohistory – Virtual Conference inspired by recent publication by Paul Elovitz, The Many Roads of the Builders of Psychohistory
Journal Of Psychohistory—Call For Papers
and our responses to it
Man made climate change has become part of our physical and psychological world. There has been a wide spectrum of responses to this reality ranging from denial to the conviction of imminent apocalypse.
The journal invites submissions on psychohistorical, psychoanalytic, and psychological perspectives on the subject. Some suggestions of possible questions to be addressed:
- What are the anxieties aroused and the defenses employed to deal with the situation?
- How have responses changed over the time since we first became aware of the threats to the environment?
- What are the moral and ethical aspects?
- What factors shape our responses and attempts to deal with climate change?
- What economic and political realities influence our perceptions and responses?
- What economic and political ideologies and beliefs influence our perceptions and responses?
- How do our responses compare to those toward other global threats such as nuclear war?
- What, if any, strategies, actions, and changes in beliefs and attitudes are needed to mount a successful defense against the threats?
- What are the likely psychological consequences if things continue on their present course?
Manuscripts should be a maximum of 9000 words, include an abstract of less than 200 words, and a brief biographical statement. Manuscripts should follow the University of Chicago Manual of Style. Please send as a Microsoft Word document to Submissions are due by August 1st.
Clio’s Psyche – Call for Papers for Spring 2022 Issue
on Our Emotional Connection to Art, Books, Media, Music, Objects, Podcasts, and TV
We welcome symposia or individual papers with a psychoanalytic/psychological approach on:
- Ways of expression
- What emotions are evoked by the screens you watch?
- Ways in which media serves as object relations
- The emotions experienced watching TV series with anticipation for each episode
- Why do you or people you care about watch certain media to relax?
- Gender issues in the emotions we are studying ¨ Why do you watch certain screens and what emotions do they invoke?
- Case studies of how media inspires our personal lives and our work
- How has instant communications changed our politics?
- TV as object relations
- Reviews of books and media relevant to this subject
We seek articles from 500 to 2,000 words—including a 25-word abstract, 7-10 keywords, and a brief biography ending with an email address. One or two 2,500-3,500 word essays are also welcome provided they are outstanding scholarship, well written, and can be used as symposium papers.
Call for Proposals – due January 31, 2022
International Psychohistorical Association’s
45th Annual Conference
May 19-21, 2022, New York City (public health conditions permitting) and virtual
Proposals may address but are not limited to the following theme and sub-themes:
GROUP IDENTITY AND THE SOURCES OF CONFLICT
Pandemic Stress and the Many Faces of Suicide
Psychodynamics of Race Relations
Intergenerational Trauma, Guilt, and Conflict
Climate Change, Global Conflict, and Species Consciousness
Submissions on any psychohistorical topics are welcome.
For more information, please visit
8. IPA CONTACTS
- Brian D’Agostino, President
- Michael Britton, Vice President
- Marc-André Cotton, International Vice President
- Brigitte Demeure, Secretary
- Denis J. O’Keefe, Treasurer
- Inna Rozentsvit, Communications Director
- Gilda Graff, Editor, Psychohistory News,
- David Lotto, Editor, The Journal of Psychohistory
- Susan Hein, Publisher, The Journal of Psychohistory
- Paul Elovitz, Editor, Clio’s Psyche and listserv
- Howard Stein, Member, IPA Leadership Council