TABLE OF CONTENTS
- What on Earth Is Going On – Psychohistorical Perspectives on a World on the Edge
by the IPhA Leadership Team
- In Memoriam: Michael Maccoby, 1933-2022
by Ken Fuchsman
- The History of Psychohistory Revisited
by Ken Fuchsman
- Transdisciplinary Future of Psychohistory
by Inna Rozentsvit
- The Variety and Richness of Psychohistory Societies and Journals
by Paul Elovitz
- A Note from the Editors and Publisher of The Journal of Psychohistory
by David Lotto
- Round Table Process Group @IPhA: A Room of Our Own
by Rose Gupta
- Antisemitism in Images
compiled by Inna Rozentsvit
- Connecticut Town Official Has Twitter Account Suspended for Apparently Threatening President Biden’s Life
by Ken Fuchsman
- Loray Daws’ Introduction to Michael Eigen
by Ken Fuchsman
- Celebrating Shakespeare’s Birthday
by Inna Rozentsvit
- What We Should Be Thankful to Shakespeare For
by Inna Rozentsvit
- Bulletin Board
- IPA Contacts
INTERNATIONAL PSYCHOHISTORICAL ASSOCIATION
46th ANNUAL CONFERENCE — VIRTUAL LIVE
MAY 18-20, 2023
WHAT ON EARTH IS GOING ON?
PSYCHOHISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES ON A WORLD ON THE EDGE
SUBTHEMES: PSYCHOHISTORICAL INSIGHTS ON
• CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE PSYCHOLOGY OF DENIAL
• WARS, GEOPOLITICAL CONFLICT, AND OTHER INTERNATIONAL CRISES
• RESURGENT TRIBALISM: BACKLASH TO NEOLIBERAL GLOBALIZATION
• GENDER, RACE, AND IDEOLOGIES OF DOMINATION
• PSYCHOANALYSIS AND HEALING
STEVEN PINKER: THE BETTER ANGELS OF OUR NATURE
Steven Pinker is a cognitive psychologist, psycholinguist, the Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University; and the author of nine books for general audiences, including The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence has Declined; Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress; and Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, and Why It Matters.
SALLY WEINTROBE: PSYCHOLOGICAL ROOTS OF THE CLIMATE CRISIS
JAMES W. ANDERSON: ANIMOSITY, AFFECTION, AGONY, AND EMPATHY: ELEMENTS IN PSYCHOBIOGRAPHERS’ RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE PEOPLE THEY STUDY
Sally Weintrobe is a psychoanalyst writing on the climate crisis. She is a Fellow of the British Psychoanalytical Society (BPAS), a long-standing Member of the Climate Psychology Alliance, and she chairs the International Psychoanalytical Association’s Committee on Climate Change. She was formerly an Honorary Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychoanalytic Studies at University College London, and a member of teaching staff at the Tavistock Clinic. One of her recent authored books is Psychological Roots of the Climate Crisis: Neoliberal Exceptionalism and the Culture of Uncare.
James W. Anderson is the Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University, past President of the Chicago Psychoanalytic Society and Editor of the Annual of Psychoanalysis. Dr. Anderson has published psychobiographical essays on Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, D. W. Winnicott, Edith Wharton, Frank Lloyd Wright and the brothers William and Henry James. His forthcoming book is Psychobiography: In Search of the Inner Life.
WHAT IS “A WORLD ON THE EDGE”?
With record breaking temperatures, wildfires, and extreme weather events, it is now clear that humanity faces a climate emergency and Sixth Extinction that threaten both human civilization and our planet’s biodiversity. Yet an entire political party in the United States and similar parties in other countries exhibit a psychology of denial about the urgency of the threat and its human causes. Other global aspects of our “Anthropocene epoch” encompass what some call a New Cold War, pandemics, and an acceleration of technological change including artificial intelligence.
All this is occurring in the context of an international political-economic system that puts profits before the needs of ordinary people, fueling a populist backlash to globalization. In its right-wing variants, this includes toxic racial and gender dynamics; authoritarian politics and religion; and other forms of tribalism.
Where do we begin in responding effectively to these myriad challenges? In this conference we tap the full range of psychoanalytic and psychohistorical resources as a basis for understanding and healing. Topics include:
- group psychology and analysis of the ego in a time of globalization;
- intergenerational transmission of trauma and resilience;
- psychoanalysis and the turmoil of our times — can structure hold, and should it?
- childhood and its history, psychobiography, and the methodology of psychohistory;
- the healing potential of music, and others.
The FULL PROGRAM and the REGISTRATION FORM
can be accessed via the following link:
2. IN MEMORIAM: MICHAEL MACCOBY, 1933-2022
by Ken Fuchsman
Michael Maccoby, the distinguished psychoanalyst, and scholar on business leadership, died of a heart attack on November 5, 2022, at the age of 89. His two most famous books were 1976’s The Gamesman and 2003’s The Productive Narcissist.
He was born March 5, 1933, in Mount Vernon New York. His mother was a schoolteacher, and his father was the 7th straight generation of rabbis. Most of Michael’s education growing up was in the Mount Vernon public schools. He then went to Harvard, where he majored in social psychology and was editor of the Harvard Crimson. Michael graduated in the class of 1954 along with Ted Kennedy, John Updike and Christopher Lasch.
Afterwards he went to Oxford where he studied philosophy with two distinguished but very different thinkers: Stuart Hampshire and Bernard Williams, and then to the University of Chicago. Maccoby returned to Harvard to complete his doctorate in their legendary Social Relations department. He studied with, among others, sociologist David Reisman and anthropologist Clyde Kluckhohn. With Reisman, he became close, and the sociologist recommended Maccoby to study in Mexico with psychoanalyst Erich Fromm.
This was a major turning point in Maccoby’s life. He not only collaborated with Fromm, but Fromm became his analyst. The influence of Fromm’s work was always nearby in Maccoby’s own thinking. Together Fromm and Maccoby published Social Character in a Mexican Village in 1970. That year Maccoby left Mexico with his wife and children to settle in Washington DC, where he resided for the rest of his life.
He received a Fellowship at the DC think tank, the Institute for Policy Studies. Maccoby told me that he came to the nation’s capital to be more involved with the movement against the Vietnam War.
After a while, Maccoby began to study styles of leadership in politics and business. He found 4 types of business leaders: jungle warriors, artisans, corporate men and titular players motivated by fame and profit. These were described in his 1976 The Gamesman. Maccoby said to me that he was surprised that without his knowledge the volume was reviewed on the front page of the New York Times Book Review. It became a bestseller. His findings were also prominently featured in another best seller 1979’s The Culture of Narcissism by Christopher Lasch, a 1954 Harvard graduate as was Maccoby.
Maccoby then developed a specialty in leadership. He was hired by several businesses and corporate leaders to advise them on improving their companies. He continued to write books, established his consulting firm the Maccoby Group, was Director of a Harvard program in technology, public policy, and human development, and for many summers was an Associate Fellow at Oxford University’s Said Business School. In 2007, Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf named Maccoby Commander of the Royal Order of the Polar Star.
In a 2000 article for the Harvard Business Review, Maccoby coined the term “productive narcissist.” This essay won awards and was expanded into an influential 2003 book with that title. Maccoby delineated what made some narcissists valuable and creative leaders for their companies. This notion of who is a productive narcissist will come up later.
I first communicated with Dr. Maccoby after seeing that he and Otto Kernberg were going to be plenary speakers at the November 2017 National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis (NAAP) Conference on Leadership, Narcissism, and Social Responsibility. At the time, filmmaker and psychoanalyst Molly Castelloe and I were co-editing a book on Donald Trump. I thought it would be fabulous if Maccoby and Kernberg contributed to the volume. I wrote Michael and Molly emailed Kernberg. Maccoby said yes and emailed me a copy of his article. He and I, of course, talked at the NAAP event. Maccoby later told me that this was the first time he and Kernberg had met.
After the conference Maccoby would regularly email me to ask how the book was progressing. After Dr. Castelloe withdrew from the project to work on her film making, I asked Maccoby to be co-editor. He agreed. To move the project along we would periodically meet in his office within his DC home.
His home was a busy place. At our first meeting in 2018, I became acquainted with one of his daughters and her children, and help was present as Maccoby’s wife was ill and needed care. In his office, we got to know about each other’s lives. He told me that Donald Trump in his ghost-written 2004 Think Like a Billionaire cited Maccoby on productive narcissism. Michael then went to his bookcase and took down a paperback copy of the Trump book and showed me the quote. Then Maccoby told me Trump is not a productive narcissist. I asked, then what is he? In an instant Maccoby said, a marketing narcissist. I thought that was a remarkable assessment, and over time I encouraged Dr. Maccoby to write more on being a marketing narcissist for our book.
During another conversation, I inquired how he came up with that term. He said he took it from Fromm’s notion of a marketing personality. In 2020, Routledge published our book under the title Psychoanalytic and Historical Perspective on the Leadership of Donald Trump. It received positive reviews. We organized a virtual Zoom conference on the book, where Michael spoke and over a hundred attended, including his daughter Anne who resides in England. Michael also participated in several other psychohistory related virtual events and always made noteworthy comments. His last book came out in 2022. It was co-edited and called Leadership, Psychoanalysis, and Society.
In getting to know Michael Maccoby I met some of his friends, family, and former students. One of his former students told me how much she gained from Michael mentoring her. It was always evident how much esteem and affection these folks showed for him. He was a dear man and an innovate thinker.
3. THE HISTORY OF PSYCHOHISTORY REVISITED
by Ken Fuchsman
A major work on the history and methodology of psychohistory was published in English by Peter Lang in 2021. It is History and the Unconscious: The Theoretical Assumptions and Research Practices of Psychohistory by historian Tomasz Pawelec. Pawelec is Professor of History at the University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland. An earlier version in Polish came out in 2004. His book has four parts. The first covers the history of psychohistory through the end of the twentieth century. He discusses psychohistory methodology in the second and third sections, and the fourth part analyzes three psychohistorical case studies, all psychobiographies. My article evaluates his account of the history of psychohistory.
Pawelec says when the original edition appeared that “no other work treating psychohistory in such a holistic and exhaustive way was available. This is still the case” (p. 10). He does state that in 2018 as his book was being translated into English, Paul Elovtiz’s The Making of Psychohistory appeared. Pawelec asserts that Elovitz’s volume fits into the tradition “of psychohistorians reflecting on their own cognitive endeavors” and is a “very personal perspective of a participant in (and an important co-creator of) this history of psychohistory” (pp. 10-11). He also acknowledges the contribution made by historian and psychoanalyst Jacques Szaluta’s 1999 Psychohistory: Theory and Practice. Professor Pawelec dedicates his book to the late psychohistorian Rudolph Binion, with whom he studied at Brandeis on a scholarship from the Polish American Fulbright Commission (pp. 12, 20).
THE HISTORICAL PSYCHOHISTORICAL PERIODS
Pawelec’s claim to be exhaustive and holistic will be explicated and examined through his history of psychohistory. He identifies a minimum of three basic historical periods. The first begins with Freud in the 1910s, the second occurs in the 1950s with Erik Erikson’s work and American Historical Association William Langer’s 1957 Presidential address calling for psychoanalysis to be applied to historical research. These developments led to linking psychohistory “to academic history” (p. 62). It is the place of psychohistory within the history discipline that is Palewec’s primary focus. A distant second is the psychoanalytic influence among many psychohistorians.
The third identified period is the 1970s and 1980s. Pawelec finds then that there was “a noticeable slow-down in the field’s expansion” with psychohistory being “pushed to the margins of academic history” (pp. 62-63). He concludes that psychohistory was unable to overcome “internal divisions.” The “’split’” was between those who identified with academic history and those following Lloyd deMause who proclaimed that psychohistory was “completely independent” of the history profession (p. 102). These divisions to Pawelec contributed to the stagnation and then decline of psychohistory as an advancing field. In the 1990s, Bruce Mazlish, an early psychohistorical pioneer, said that there was “no hope for improvement” in psychohistory. Once enthusiastic champion of the field, sociologist Fred Weinstein, saw psychohistory as a failure (p. 105).
The fundamental internal problem of psychohistory to Pawelec remains that “psychohistoricans were not able to sufficiently agree among themselves on a set of basic norms and directives.” For there is no standard for judging “the legitimacy of psychohistorical hypotheses and conclusions, data analysis and interpretations” (p. 115).
To Palewec, that some psychohstorians adhere to a deMausian complete independence from historical standards keeps the field from being academically recognized. At the end of his book, Palewec repeats that “one of psychohistory’s greatest weaknesses” has been the group’s being “unable to work out a relatively uniform methodology.” This is connected to another “significant weakness of psychohistory” and that is “its inability to take root in universities” (pp. 348-349). The history of psychohistory in Palewec’s version is inseparable from the field’s academic isolation, which is a consequence of its failure to formally adopt and implement scholarly criteria. Not surprisingly, Palewec concludes, “Psychohistory’s heyday has already passed,” even though “practitioners of psychohistory have continued their work” (p. 10).
This summation of the rise and decline of psychohistory in the twentieth century is further explicated in Pawelec’s volume. He begins by mentioning precursors to psychohistory in the work of such eminent European thinkers as Wilhelm Dithey and Thomas Carlyle, among others. His central focus on the field’s origin is centered on Sigmund Freud’s work. This begins with Dr. Freud’s 1910 book on Leonardo Da Vinci and extending to other works on the connection between psychoanalysis, pre-civilization and civilization itself. He quotes Freud’s 1926 assertion that psychoanalysis can become instrumental among those concerned with civilization’s evolution (Freud, 1959 , SE XX, p. 248). It is based on Freud’s work, such as Totem and Taboo, Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, Civilization and Its Discontents, Moses and Monotheism, among others that establishes the foundation for the connection of psychoanalysis with the later flourishing of psychohistory.
Palewec further traces other developments in history and psychobiography during and after Freud’s lifetime in what to him is the first period of his history of psychohistory. It is in the second period beginning in the U.S. in the 1950s that to him psychohistory as a separate field begins to emerge and expand.
Palewec lists several important psychohistory related volumes published in the 1950s. He says that it was Erikson who first used the term “psycho-history” within “academic discourse.” Erikson’s groundbreaking Childhood and Society (1950) and his 1958 Young Man Luther are cited (p. 72). In the 1970s when surveys were conducted to ascertain psychohistory’s most important works Young Man Luther was the most mentioned (pp. 222-223). Other 1950s works that Palewec lists include Adorno et al The Authoritarian Personality (1950), Alexander and Juliette George’s Woodrow Wilson and Colonel House (1956), and Norman Cohn’s 1957 Pursuit of the Millennium. Of course, William Langer’s 1957 presidential address stimulated much discussion and debate within history. Still to Palewec most importantly in the 1960s and 1970s Erikson’s “work played a special role” as “he enjoyed the position of ‘leading Western intellectual’” (p. 77). Palewec again uses the term special role to describe the 1963 edited volume by historian Bruce Mazlish Psychoanalysis and History (p. 77).
Mazlish is soon mentioned again. Pawelec writes that under “the auspices of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the first psychohistorical research group was founded…the so-called Wellfleet Group, in which-apart from Erikson and Maslish – the leading role was played by…psychiatrists Robert J. Lifton and Kenneth Keniston” (p. 78). The year this group was founded was 1965. Palewec also has a footnote citing Lifton’s co-edited 1974 account of this effort in his Explorations in Psychohistory: The Wellfleet Papers (p. 140). Wellfleet was one of the important annual gatherings that contributes to the status and development of psychohistorical perspectives.
Then in 1972 after the American Historical Association’s annual conference scholars established the Group for the Use of Psychology in History (GUPH). This effort, Palewec concludes was designed to gather “recognition and acceptance” for psychohistory “within the historical profession.” This worked to the extent that “GUPH functioned as a research group affiliated with the American Historical Association until the first years of the twenty-first century” (p. 81). GUPH also published its first newsletter in 1972. Four years later, it became the quarterly the Psychohistory Review, which continued publishing until 1999. This journal appealed mostly to professional historians. GUPH is another important effort to advance psychohistory as a legitimate area of inquiry and scholarship.
Third were the innovations of Lloyd deMause, a one-time doctoral student in political science at Columbia University, who had become fascinated by childhood over the centuries. In 1973, he established The History of Childhood Quarterly: The Journal of Psychohistory. The first part of the title was dropped in 1977. Since then, it has been called just The Journal of Psychohistory, and is still in business in 2023. But deMause did not stop with the journal. In 1977, his initiatives led to the establishment of the International Psychohistorical Association, which still organizes an annual conference.
In that same year, Palewec mentions the founding of the International Society of Political Psychology (ISPP), which has welcomed psychohistorical presentations (p. 82). Unlike psychohistory, political psychology has become an established field in academia, more within political science than psychology departments.
As Palewec slides from the second to the third period of psychohistory in the 1970s and 1980s, he describes what he calls psychohistory’s identity crisis. It began in the mid-70s when deMause and those close to him “began to disassociate themselves from the historical profession” and “formulated a psychohistory program that was completely independent.” This became a research endeavor “into human motivation” designed to combine psychoanalysis, anthropology, sociology, and history (p. 103).
While deMause attempted to move psychohistory in one direction, there were those who retained their allegiance to academic history. But to Palewec, they became divided. The first group identified psychoanalysis as being scientific, and thus a match with the objective aspects of history. On one hand, historian and later psychoanalyst Peter Loewenberg maintained that “Psychohistory is a historical science” that provides “genetic, adaptational narrative historical explanations.” The second perspective wished “to construct a psychohistory that would refer to other psychological theories…derived from academic psychology.” Among the latter were T. L. Brink and William Mckinley Runyan. (p. 103). So psychohistory has an exclusive gathering by invitation to Lifton’s Wellfleet retreats, a number of independent endeavors led by Lloyd deMause, and a group of psychohistorians divided between psychoanalysis and academic psychology.
The result of these various positions is that “different groups within psychohistory have been separated from (and even hostile toward) one another.” They have developed not only diverging theories but separate organizations and “communication channels” (p. 105).
As well, within the history profession, by 1990 there was a turning away from psychohistory. The number of such course “dropped dramatically,” and those that remained attracted “very few students” (p. 108). To Palewec, “psychohistory began to disintegrate into separate components” as “historians were directing their interests elsewhere” (p. 109).
Part of this decline, as has been mentioned, to Palewec is that “the legitimacy of psychohistorical hypothesis and conclusions” became much doubted given the lack of an agreed upon methodology for evaluating psychohistorical claims (pp. 115, 348). An exception to some of these conclusions about psychohistory’s decline, to Pawelec, is present in Paul Elovitz’s Clio’s Psyche, which was established in the 1990s. Elovitz intends to “ensure that the community of psychohistory persists in the face of hostility or indifference within university circles” (p. 110).
EVALUATING PALEWEC’S HISTORY
How are we to assess Palewec’s version of the history of psychohistory? A strength of Pawelec’s history of psychohistory is his identifying a split between the focus on academics in psychohistory by GUPH and others and the focus of deMause and his group on remaining independent of the confinements of the historical profession, and to be free ranging in what it took from other fields. Pawelec traces well the prospects of psychohistory among many academic historians. Pawelec also astutely points out the long-standing divisions among psychohistorians between those rooted in psychoanalytic and non-psychoanalytic psychologies.
On the other hand, Pawelec’s claim to being holistic and exhaustive is overstated. He underplays or omits much. For instance, there is not much examination of why psychohistory has not become entrenched in either university psychology departments or have much prominence in psychoanalytic journals. He also significantly underplays the ideas and concepts in the independent Wellfleet group of Robert Lifton and associates, and he is weak on the importance of psychohistorical contributions of historians trained at Columbia University. For all the merits of his scholarship, Palewec does not investigate the full range of psychohistory, nor does he devote enough space to ideas within psychohistory.
This observation of his limits extends to Palewec’s failure to explore which psychohistorical works have gained the most recognition. This especially applies to the prominent role of Columbia University trained scholars. There are six important writers of psychohistorical books that earned their doctorates at Columbia. They are Richard Hofstadter, Peter Gay, Christopher Lasch, William Leuchtenburg, Rudolph Binion, and Jacques Szaluta.
In the whole course of the history of American psychohistory two of the three most influential psychohistorical terms were promulgated by Columbia alumni. They are Richard Hofstadter’s the paranoid style and Christopher Lasch’s the culture of narcissism. On December 13, 2022, there were 18,500,000 Google hits for paranoid style and 28,200,000 hits for culture of narcissism. In contrast, there were 230,000 hits for psychohistory.
Any history of psychohistory must give prominent place to the originators of these terms and their related works. Yet Hofstadter’s name is not in Palewec’s index, Lasch is mentioned just three times. Gay’s five volume psychohistorical classic The Bourgeois Experience Victoria to Freud published between 1984 and 1998 is referenced once. No hint of Leuchtenburg is present. Both Binion and his doctoral student Jacques Szaluta have over 20 references in the index. Yet the preeminence of the writings of graduates of Columbia University within psychohistory is not a subject in itself. A major omission.
While neither Hofstadter nor Lasch’s works are restricted to psychohistory, each wrote important books that fall within the domain of psychohistory. Noted Princeton historian, Sean Wilentz, says that Hofstadter was “perhaps the greatest American historian of the mid-20th century” (Wilentz, 2020). The Columbia University professor was also a pioneer among history faculty in incorporating the language of psychology and psychoanalysis into historical narrative.
Sprinkled throughout Hofstadter’s 1954 “The Pseudo-Conservative Revolt” are the following passages: “Political life is…an arena into which status aspirations and frustrations are, as the psychologists would say, projected.” Hofstadter finds that among many on the right feelings of “hostility…have to be suppressed and reappear in the form of an internal destructive rage” (Hofstadter, 1965 , pp. 67-58). To Hofstadter, within the political arena “private emotions and personal problems can be readily projected” (Hofstadter, 1965, p.63). Politics to Hofstatdter is a place where one’s internal rage becomes enacted in the public sphere. This essay of Hofstadter employing psychoanalytic ideas was published three years prior to William Langer’s presidential call for historians to incorporate psychoanalysis in their work.
Hofstadter’s psychohistorical orientation can be seen even earlier in the psychobiographical portraits contained in his 1948 The American Political Tradition and the Men Who Made It, which had 296,000 Google hits on January 4, 2023. This work contains an accomplished interconnection of biographical and political/intellectual analysis of American leaders. As well, his essays on the radical right, his book on anti-intellectualism as well as his paranoid style collection are all strongly psychohistorical.
Lasch has made significant contribution to psychohistorical scholarship. His 1965 The New Radicalism in America: 1889-1963 is a psychohistorical and psychobiographical successor to Hofstadter’s American Political Tradition and is also a valuable account of American cultural radicalism. His trio of related psychohistory books from 1977 to 1984 are Haven in a Heartless World: The Family Besieged, The Culture of Narcissism, and The Minimal Self: Psychic Survival in Troubled Times. These works for all their limits are central and influential psychohistorical efforts.
Historical accounts characteristically focus on what is most influential and distinctive. Hofstadter and Lasch’s specific psychhistorical efforts deserve full attention in the history of psychohistory because of their merit and influence.
Just as telling is the under treatment of the psychohistorical concepts of those connected to Robert J. Lifton’s Wellfleet Group. Erik Erikson’s psychohistory work precedes the establishment of Wellfleet. Erikson’s psychosocial ego psychoanalysis has been culturally influential, his eight stages of the life cycle is a staple of developmental psychology classes. Yet his ideas are insufficiently explicated in Palewec’s work. Again, in speaking of influence, Erikson in 1968 published Identity: Youth and Crisis. This was instrumental in popularizing the term identity crisis. On December 17, 2022, for the term identity crisis there were 335,000,000 results on Google.
Robert J. Lifton, along with Peter Gay, are the only psychohistorians who have won the National Book Award. Lifton developed his own non-psychoanalytic outlook which, among other things, contrasts the protean self and totalism, the psychological consequences of the Hiroshima nuclear attack, and a portrait of Nazi doctors. Lifton is one of the most significant psychohistorians ever. But given Palewec’s focus on the psychoanalytic, these and other central contributions of Lifton’s are left out of his account.
The evidence for what Pawelec’s priorities is in the sources he refers to in his extensive bibliography. Not surprisingly, Sigmund Freud’s work is cited 16 times. Lloyd deMause leads the pack with 17 works. Paul Elovitz is cited 16 times, Erik Erikson – 8, and Robert J. Lifton – 7. For the Columbia University trained historians, there are 3 for Lasch, none for Hofstadter and Leuchtenburg, 2 for Gay and Szaluta, and 13 for Pawelec’s mentor Binion.
One way of assessing the importance of each psychohistorian is how often they are recognized. Returning to Google, on December 17, 2022, there are 50,700 results for deMause, 56,100 for Binion, 55,000 for Elovitz, 591,000 for Lifton, 752,000 for Hofstadter, 799,000 for Lasch, and for Erikson there are 4,370,000 hits. As well as the frequency of Google hits, there is merit in the works of the more referred to authors. Any history of psychohistory needs to pay sufficient attention to the extent of the recognition these and other scholars received.
This is not always the case. For instance, psychiatrist Vamik Volkan has been a prolific and influential figure for both political psychologists and psychohistorians. He is cited just once. Pawelec acknowledges historian David Beisel but does not mention Beisel’s decade long editing of the Journal of Psychohistory, nor his scholarship in The Suicidal Embrace, nor on poetry, jazz, and film in psychohistory. Paul Elovitz is mentioned often, but his extensive contributions to presidential psychobiography is ignored.
Historian and later psychoanalyst Peter Loewenberg is important in a variety of arenas. Loewenberg is one of a handful of psychohistorians who have been trained in both history and psychoanalysis. These include Paul Elovitz, Jacques Szaluta, David James Fisher, and Charles Strozier as well. Palewec cites Loewenberg ten times but does not encompass the full range of his contributions to several fields.
Charles Strozier has a unique place in the history of psychohistory. He was instrumental in GUPH, and then editing the Psychohistorical Review. But not only that. He became closely associated and collaborated with Robert J. Lifton, has written several essential works in psychohistory and psychobiography, including two books on Lincoln and an outstanding biography of Heinz Kohut. As faculty at New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Strozier became the Founding Director of the Center on Terrorism. He and Lifton worked together at John Jay. They wrote about the emergence of religiously based right-wing terrorism. To his credit, Palewec cites Strozier’s work thirteen times, but does not discuss in detail Strozier’s psychobiographies.
The works of all these individuals are significant contribution to the literature of psychohistory, and the ideas within them could have been more stressed in Palewec’s history of the field. There are other psychohistorians whose work could have been explicated as well. Still, Palewec’s book is a major step forward in the scholarship on psychohistory’s history in the twentieth century. It focuses well on the relationship of certain strands within the field as they relate to the place of psychohistory in the historical profession. It also shows psychohistory’s methodological weaknesses in relation to establishing agreed upon standards. Yet much in this history is either left out or not given the full attention and analysis it deserves.
The centrality of psychoanalysis in the history of psychohistory is appropriately featured in Palewec’s volume. Still, any history of psychohistory whose primary focus is psychoanalysis runs the risk of underplaying the richness and diversity of the field. This particularly applies to the role of Columbia University psychohistorians, also the psychohistorians associated with Lifton’s Wellfleet Group, and the non-psychoanalytic psychobiographers in academic psychology departments. Until histories of psychohistory give more prominence to what in the field has generated the most attention, recognition, and influence, it will not be doing justice to its subject matter.
A full history of psychohistory would not just be a revisiting of a now dim past. It is important for the present and future as well. As William Faulkner taught us, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past” (Faulkner, 1951, p. 80). It is important for any history of psychohistory to be inclusive and comprehensive. After all, if you do not do justice to your past, you will likely not honestly understand your present.
- Faulkner, W. (1951). Requiem for a nun. Vintage Books.
- Freud, S., Strachey, J. (Ed. & Trans.) (1959/1926). The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works, Vol. XX (pp. 183-258). The Hogarth Press.
- Hofstadter, R. (1965). The paranoid style in American politics and other essays. Vintage Books.
- Hofstadter, R., & Bell, D. (Ed.) (2017/1962). Pseudo-conservatism revisited: A Postscript. In The radical right, Third edition (pp. 97-104). Routledge.
- Pawelec, T., & Shannon, A. (Trans.) (2021). History and the unconscious: The theoretical assumptions and research practices of psychohistory. Peter Lang.
- Wilentz, S. (2020). A moment for historian Richard Hofstadter on anti-intellectualism. Princeton Alumni Weekly. Retrieved from https://paw.princeton.edu/article/moment-historian-richard-hofstadter-anti-intellectualism.
4. TRANSDISCIPLINARY FUTURE OF PSYCHOHISTORY
by Inna Rozentsvit
In his 1986 paper “Psychohistory as history,” T. Kohut (1986) discussed the very problems we experience today, when we try to define the field of psychohistory and what it is about. Kohut (1986) wrote that psychohistory was criticized by all and every person or group that utilizes any historical methodology (political, social, intellectual, etc.), becoming a “lightning rod, able to absorb some of the historical profession’s uncertainty about itself” (p.337).
Merriam-Webster (n.d.) defines psychohistory as a way of historical analysis or interpretation using psychological and psychoanalytic methods, while Kohut (1986) insists that psychohistory can be written as history; and the whole field of psychoanalysis as a therapeutic method, as well as classical psychoanalytic works by E. Erikson (on Gandhi’s Truth and Young Man Luther), and the two publications by P. Elovitz (The making of psychohistory and The many roads of the builders of psychohistory), illustrate this idea very well.
So, is psychohistory an amalgam of history and psychology, history and psychoanalysis, or any other “valid” disciplines rather than being a field of discovery that stands on its own? I suggest that if we investigate a fairly new concept of transdisciplinary fields of knowledge and discovery, we will find Psychohistory right there, and there is no need to argue how much of any “older” discipline psychohistory includes/follows, and how much it is not.
Transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary are both approaches to solving complex problems that require collaboration across different fields of study. However, there are some key differences between the two (Gibbs, 2017).
Interdisciplinary ― involves collaboration between two or more disciplines to address a common problem or question. Each discipline retains its own methods and perspectives but works together with others to integrate their knowledge and ideas. It focuses on generating new insights or solutions by combining knowledge from different fields. It often results in a multidisciplinary approach where different fields work in parallel towards a common goal.
Transdisciplinary ― goes beyond interdisciplinary collaboration by involving stakeholders from outside academia, including policymakers, practitioners, and community members. It focuses on addressing complex, real-world, problems that require systemic change.
Transdisciplinary work integrates knowledge and perspectives from multiple fields as well as from diverse stakeholder groups. It aims to generate solutions that are sustainable, equitable, and socially responsible. It often results in a new, holistic, approach that transcends the boundaries of existing disciplines. The following graphs might help to visualize these concepts:
In summary, interdisciplinary collaboration involves bringing together different disciplines to address a common problem or question, while transdisciplinary collaboration, penetrates the boundaries of various fields of knowledge and goes beyond this by involving diverse stakeholders and seeking systemic change.
- Dennison, B. (2017, March 6). Transdisciplinary literacy: Seven principles that help define transdisciplinary research. UMCES integration and application network. Retrieved from https://ian.umces.edu/blog/2017/03/06/transdisciplinary-literacy-seven-principles-that-help-define-transdisciplinary-research/
- Elovitz, P. (2018). The making of psychohistory: Origins, controversies, and pioneering contributors. Routledge.
- Elovitz, P. (Ed.) (2021). The many roads of the builders of psychohistory. ORI Academic Press.
- Erikson. E. (1958). Young man Luther: A study in psychoanalysis and history. W.W. Norton.
- Erikson, E. (1969). Gandhi’s truth: On the origins of militant nonviolence. W.W. Norton.
- Gibbs, P. (Ed.). (2017). Transdisciplinary higher education: A theoretical basis revealed in practice. Springer.
- Kohut, T. (1986). Psychohistory as history. The American Historical Review, 91(2), 336-354.
- Merriam-Webster (n.d.). Psychohistory. Retrieved from: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/psychohistory
5. THE VARIETY AND RICHNESS OF PSYCHOHISTORY SOCIETIES AND JOURNALS
by Paul H. Elovitz
For many colleagues who are new to psychohistory, it is easy to think the one organization they’re a member of or the journal they read represents the whole field. Fortunately, this is not the case because there is a richness to the field that has several groups and journals that do psychohistory. In terms of some that specifically label themselves as psychohistorical, two that stand out are the International Psychohistorical Association (IPhA-formally abbreviated as the IPA) and the Psychohistory Forum. I am proud of having been present for the planning of the IPhA in 1977, serving in almost every one of its offices, and continuing now on its leadership team. I have presented my scholarly research at all of its conferences, just as I will do this coming May 19th. Even before the creation of the IPhA, I created and directed the Saturday Workshops (1975-1982) of the Institute for Psychohistory, which was founded by Lloyd deMause. In 1982, with Henry Lawton (1940-2014) as co-director, we started the Psychohistory Forum, and I have been convening and directing it ever since.
While I pay my yearly membership dues to the IPhA, I also pay membership as a Patron to the Psychohistory Forum because of the unique work we do in nurturing psychohistory in our Work-in-Progress Seminars. Typically, the IPhA has had only one annual meeting per year and the Forum has had four to six meetings annually; because of COVID-19, both organizations have become more internationalized with online meetings. In 2022, the Forum sponsored seven meetings with 13 presenters, while the IPhA set up various study groups as a result of the efforts of Inna Rozentsvit. One challenge at the moment is that the Psychohistory Forum has more dues-paying members than the IPhA, which needs to be rectified by increasing membership while continuing to grow the Forum.
The Forum was created and is sustained as a membership organization of colleagues rather than as a top-down group, which is why I pay dues (as do all members) while devoting gratis at least 1500 hours a year to the group and its journal. Colleagues from all fields submit a paper to the Psychohistory Forum which, after being vetted by a committee, is read prior to a meeting that focuses on assisting the author in developing her/his scholarly essay. A whole Saturday meeting is devoted to a single paper or theme followed by participants breaking bread together. While continuing with the Psychohistory Forum, Henry Lawton started and led the Group for the Psychohistorical Study of Film, which regrettably did not survive his early death. There are psychobiography groups on the West Coast, and William McKinley “Mac” Runyan will soon be submitting an article to Clio’s Psyche on one of them, focusing on its history and activities.
To know more about these groups, go to their websites at CliosPsyche.org (which contains much more than just the journal’s information), PsychobiographyForum.com, PsychohistoryForum.com, and Psychohistory.us.
To me, psychohistory has always been primarily (but far from exclusively) applied psychoanalysis, and there have been numerous study groups, some much better known than others. One of the earliest and certainly the most famous psychohistory group is Robert Jay Lifton’s Wellfleet Group, which started in 1966. It continued until ill health forced Lifton to retire from it. Fortunately, he continues to write psychohistory. An incredible number of highly talented colleagues participated in Wellfleet, including Peter Balakian, Mary Catherine Bateson, Norman Birnbaum, Margaret Brenman-Gibson, Cathy Caruth, Jim Carroll, Wendy Doniger, Daniel Ellsberg, Kai Erikson, Michael Flynn, Larry Friedman, Carol Gilligan, Jim Gilligan, Todd Gitlin, Judith Herman, Robert Holt, Nicholas Humphrey, Jim Jones, Peter Kuznik, Betty Jean Lifton, Norman Mailer, Karl Meyer, Michael Miller, Dan Okrent, Charles Strozier, and Bessel Van Der Kolk.
Among the guest participants were Dan Berrigan, Peter Brooks, Noam Chomsky, Robert Coles, Harvey Cox, David Dellinger, Richard Falk, Jane Fonda, Peter Gay, Richard Goodwin, Raoul Hilberg, Michael Kazin, Robert Kuttner, Lynn Layton, Jill Lepore, Frank Manuel, Alexander and Margaret Mitscherlich, Naomi Oreskes, Kenneth Porter, Philip Rieff, David Riesman, Jonathan Schell, Richard Sennett, Martin Sherwin, Sherry Turkle, Lawrence Wright, and Howard Zinn. The group typically met for three-day weekends on Cape Cod in Wellfleet and did some wonderful work, mostly resulting in the separate books of its members, although you can still find Explorations in Psychohistory: The Wellfleet Papers (1975) on Amazon.
Throughout my career, I have presented psychohistorical papers at various conferences along with other like-minded colleagues. For example, the International Society for Political Psychology (ISPP), which meets around the world regularly in July, and the Association for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society (APCS), which now meets regularly at Rutgers University in late October or early November. The German Society for Psychohistory and Political Psychology (Gesellschaft für Psychohistorie und Politische Psychologie—GPPP) conference is held annually (this year in March in Munich) and has a large following from around Europe. There are groups in different areas that I simply don’t know about as an American, especially since they don’t advertise themselves.
Journals Publishing Psychohistory
Psychohistory is published in a large variety of journals, such as American Imago, and other various psychoanalytic journals. The major journals in the field are The Journal of Psychohistory (1973) and Clio’s Psyche (1994). The newsletter of the IPhA has recently become substantial thanks to the work of Ken Fuchsman and Inna Rozentsvit. Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society of the APCS publishes psychohistory, though they do not advertise it as such, as does Political Psychology, the journal of the ISPP. Psychohistorical articles appear in various academic journals, although typically without being labeled as such.
So, with so much psychohistory being done by colleagues who are members of multiple groups, is it any wonder that people who are fairly new to the field are confused?! They may only know and pay membership dues to the Psychohistory Forum (receiving Clio’s Psyche), or the IPhA, which at least has a newsletter, or subscribe to The Journal of Psychohistory, which has no affiliation. The important thing is that they do, support, and disseminate psychohistory.
Paul H. Elovitz, PhD, has devoted his entire career to creating, disseminating, editing, and teaching psychohistory. He may be contacted at .
6. A NOTE FROM THE EDITORS AND PUBLISHER
OF THE JOURNAL OF PSYCHOHISTORY
by David Lotto
We are a small, not-for-profit, independent peer reviewed scholarly journal that has published four quarterly issues per year since 1973. This has been done without grants, university funding, or any other source of income other than subscriptions. A subscription is $84 a year for a printed copy mailed to your address. We ask that you help us to continue our ability to produce high quality articles, book reviews, and poetry by becoming a subscriber. To do so please go to our website,
psychohistory.com and click on the subscribe tab.
The Journal accepts original (not previously published in a journal or book) manuscripts that address the psychological factors that can help us to understand whatever subject matter is being addressed. Maximum length for the text of articles is 9000 words – including an abstract. Submissions should include a brief biographical statement of no more than 150 words. Please send submissions by email as MS word documents to . Manuscripts should follow either APA format or the University of Chicago Manual of Style. The author’s name, contact information, and biographical statement should be sent on a separate page as the peer review process is anonymous.
Book reviews (500-1500 words) and review essays (1500-5000 words) should be sent, along with a brief biographical statement, to Bo Wang at . Poetry of psychohistorical interest should be sent to Peter Petschauer at .
While we have several authors who regularly contribute material to the journal, we would welcome authors who may not have heard of us as well as to encourage first time writers to consider us as a place to publish their work.
Some Excerpts from the Most Recent Issue of The Journal:
Preface: How Do You Define Psychohistory? – Paul Elovitz
Since at least 2001 in The Best of Clio’s Psyche: 1994-2001 I have been asking colleagues for their definitions of psychohistory and publishing them in various edited books. Among those providing definitions were Rudolph Binion, Lloyd deMause, George Kren, Peter Loewenberg, Bruce Mazlish, Paul Roazen, Chuck Strozier, and Jacques Szaluta I now invite more colleagues to send me their definitions of our field. I defined “psychohistory as an amalgam of psychology, history, and related social sciences” focused on “the ‘why’ of history,” especially the differences between stated intention and actual behavior. I noted in The Best of Clio’s Psyche that “psychobiography, childhood, group dynamics, and mechanisms of psychic defense, dreams and creativity are primary areas of research” (p. 4).
Psychohistory: Definitions and Standards – Ken Fuchsman
Psychohistory has long contained contested conceptions. This extends to definitions of the field. This paper provides three such accounts by editors of psychohistory journals. It then explores some of the central issues these overlapping and contrasting definitions raise about psychology, psychoanalysis, history, and psychohistory.
These accounts are by the former editor of the now defunct Psychohistory Review, historian and psychoanalyst Charles Strozier, the present editor of the Journal of Psychohistory, psychoanalyst David Lotto, and historian and psychoanalyst Paul Elovitz, who founded and edits Clio’s Psyche.
7. ROUND TABLE PROCESS GROUP @IPHA: A ROOM OF OUR OWN
by Rose Gupta
Our Process group, we affectionately call, “A Room of Our Own”, has emerged from the supportive, inclusive intellectual environment at IPhA.
Each of us has presented our work at courses and seminars at IPhA ‘s annual conferences, and we have come together to share our common interests and learn from each other. We are a theoretically diverse and compatible group who now meet regularly to continue our discussions and share our ideas in an atmosphere that is supportive and curious.
We hold a safe space that supports emerging ideas, papers in process, and our feelings that emerge about topics that matter. Our dialogue is both intrapsychic, interpersonal, and sensitive to historical currents and transgenerational trauma.
At our first meeting last summer, Dr. Rose Gupta discussed her paper, “The Frankenstein Metaphor….” focusing on traumatizing internal object relationships from a relational intersubjective perspective to provide an intrapsychic explanation of the repetition of transgenerational trauma and ongoing aggression towards others.
Subsequently, Dr. Claire Steinberger gave a presentation on her use of field theory and how aggressions are created in the bi-personal field. She emphasized the role of the analyst entering this dyad to create a three-dimensional space and facilitate opportunities for growth.
Dr. Gabriela Gusita provided an experiential dimension to the interpersonal, familial trauma of being “the unwelcome child” and what that means for many of us.
Dr. Inna Rozentsvit gave us a presentation on “Trauma and Neuropsychobiology” to deepen our understanding of the interconnectedness of brain/mind and body.
The thread of our presentations and discussions underlines our quest to further our understanding of trauma in all its dimensions. We look forward to presenting our ideas at the IPhA conference on May 18-20. Look for us on Saturday, May 20 at 11am. Our Seminar is entitled, “When worlds collide…” as we integrate the intrapsychic and interpersonal dimensions of destruction and trauma.
We meet every six weeks and welcome your interest in what we are doing. Contact Rose Gupta at or Claire Steinberger at .
8. ANTISEMITISM IN IMAGES
Compiled by Inna Rozenstvit
Antisemitism Uncovered Video: Myth of Power:
On July 10, 1933, nearly a decade before the Holocaust, Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Minister of Propaganda,
was on the front cover of TIME Magazine, stating “THE JEWS ARE TO BLAME!”
20,000 people attended the German American Bund rally held at Madison Square Garden on February 20, 1939.
Camp Siegfried, on Long Island, NY, was among the pro-Nazi summer camps affiliated with the German-American Bund (1930s).
If you are passionate about combating ANTISEMITISM by psychohistorical writing – please visit
the Call for Papers webpage:
9. CONNECTICUT TOWN OFFICIAL HAS TWITTER ACCOUNT SUSPENDED
FOR APPARENTLY THREATENING PRESIDENT BIDEN’S LIFE
by Ken Fuchsman
Tara Carr is the Republican First Selectwoman in Brookfield Connecticut. The select person is an elected official who is the chief administrator in Connecticut towns. On February 4, 2023. Ms. Carr retweeted a photo of Joe Biden that addressed the Chinese spy balloon. What appears to be about the President is a tweet of Carr’s asserting “He’s aiding & abetting the enemy. Ready. Aim. Fire. One shot, one kill. That simple…” The tweet had two elements; one about a single shot, and the other about aiding and abetting a foreign enemy. The latter is an accusation of treason. It would be of some significance if the “he” in question was President Biden. Her messages led to Tara Carr’s twitter account being suspended on February 20, 2023. It has also raised a political firestorm in the state of Connecticut.
The town of Brookfield in 2010 had the 9th highest per capita income in the state. It is located in wealthy Fairfield County. Brookfield is bordered to the east by Newtown, which has had its own experience with someone readying, aiming and firing.
Certainly, verbally advocating inflicting lethal violence on American elected officials has recently become more common. This reached a peak when January 6th insurrectionists called for Vice-President Mike Pence to be hanged. It is not always common though for elected officials to appear to be calling for the execution of an American President.
44-year-old Tara Buonaiuto Carr herself was raised near Brookfield in New Milford Connecticut. She served twenty-five years in the U.S. Army. Starting as a private at the age of 17, she retired as a Lieutenant Colonel. While serving in Afghanistan, Carr was the key representative for the Commander of Special Operations Joint Task Force. As well, she has been an ambitious, athletic, accomplished competitor. While in the service in 2017, she appeared on the TV show “The Amazing Race” as she rappelled down a Brazilian skyscraper. The next year she was a semi-finalist in the Ms. Veteran America competition that aimed to raise money for the 55,000 homeless U, S, women veterans. After leaving the service she supervised the construction of a large Amazon facility in neighboring Danbury. She has achieved a lot.
Carr is married with four young children. When campaigning in 2021 for her current office, she said “I’m very passionate about making a difference and impacting change for the better and creating a better future for our children, because it’s what life’s all about, right?” She added that her goal is to bring Brookfield “back to our historical Republican roots,” keeping taxes low, curbing development and supporting education and small businesses. When she took the oath of office in December 2021 she said, “It’s probably one of the most important oaths of my life, next to the one I made on my wedding day.”
The very month after being sworn in at a number of school athletic events, Ms. Carr did not wear a mask, even though at the time there was a state mandate to wear masks in schools. Her response, when questioned, was “mandates are not enforceable.” The Brookfield Town Charter mandates that “at all times” elected officials’ actions should “be for the public good and within the bounds of law, should be above reproach and should avoid conflict between public and private interest and responsibilities.” Ms. Carr did not cite this section of the charter when she defended not wearing masks. Nor did she specify how disregarding the mandate to wear masks connected to historical Republican roots as the party of law and order.
Nearby Newtown, Connecticut in December of last year marked the ten-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook school massacre. In 2022 there had been two highly publicized trials concerning Alex Jones’ assertion that those Newtown school shootings never happened. Of course, the scars of losing so many school children to gun violence remain. Not all Newtown residents were enamored of First Selectwoman Carr’s tweets. Newtown resident Po Murray is co-founder and Chairwoman of the Newtown Action Alliance and their foundation, a 503c charitable organization. The purpose of this group is to support legislative and cultural change to reduce gun violence. Murray said the Brookfield First Selectwoman should resign. To Murray, “Anyone who incites political violence against our POTUS cannot adequately govern.”
Democratic State Representative, Matt Blumenthal of Stamford said that Carr’s posting warranted “a visit from the secret service and is incompatible with any position in public office or public trust.” This state representatives’ father is U.S. Senator and former Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.
On Tuesday, February 21, First Selectwoman Carr issued a statement and was interviewed on the radio. She said her tweets were taken out of context by those attempting to smear her. On a local radio station Carr stated, “I was a China specialist for most of my career in the military, so I recognize the gravity of a spy balloon over our country and what the Chinese Communist Party is capable of. I wanted that balloon down.” She asserted that her statement about shooting was just directed at destroying the balloon.
In both her released statement and in the radio interview there is no mention of a “he” aiding and abetting the enemy. If it was Biden that she was referring to, that would be accusing the President of treason. That is a radical assertion and a big deal. First Selectwoman Carr’s public comments addressed one element in her tweet but not the part that a “he” was aiding and abetting the enemy.
Since Barack Obama was first elected President some elements of the American civic religion have become torn and frayed. More extreme rhetoric and action has come close to the mainstream. Violent domestic terrorism itself has multiplied. Frequent anonymous death threats for elected officials have become the norm for people in both political parties.
Among the American military there has long been a faction that thinks that the civilian leaders are not sufficiently protecting our national interests against dangerous international and domestic foes. I certainly witnessed this attitude when I was in the Army from 1968 to 1970. Some retired and active military are found in several of the rightist political movements that were active on January 6th, including the Oath Keepers. Whether Carr is as radically conservative as her tweet seems to indicate and if she acquired such convictions in the Army is not knowable at this time.
In the United States we are currently living through an Age of Ideological Animosity. To many, our mortal enemies have become fellow Americans. It is a time of demonizing rivals, of being ready to verbally threaten the lives of our nation’s citizens. Fellow Americans are often portrayed as Un-American.
Among our many divisions are between those who champion gun rights and those who have been victims of mass massacres. Newtown residents are overly familiar with the costs of easily available lethal weapons. In the next town is an elected official who appears to be accusing the President of being treasonous. Who knows when these divisions will diminish, and when actual mass shootings will become less prominent in American life.
10. LORAY DAWS’ INTRODUCTION TO MICHAEL EIGEN
by Ken Fuchsman
Michael Eigen: A Contemporary Introduction (2023) by psychoanalyst Loray Daws is part of the Routledge Introduction to Contemporary Psychoanalysis series. Other than Eigen himself, there is no one more qualified to write about Eigen than Dr. Daws. He co-edited Living Moments: On the Work of Michael Eigen in 2018, then in 2020, he edited Dialogues with Michael Eigen: Psyche Singing. Besides being an expert on Dr. Eigen’s work, Daws has edited the papers of Eigen’s analyst, Henry Elkin, who was a big influence on Eigen.
Daws himself is a clinical psychologist registered in both South Africa and British Columbia. He used to live in the first country and now resides with his family in Canada. Daws is also Senior Faculty for the International Masterson Institute and has written on existential analysis.
To Loray Daws, Eigen’s writings should be understood as “part of wisdom literature.” He does not think that Eigen’s writings should be categorized in “a strict academic sense.” Yet the guidelines for the series his book is part of means it is “written more academically.” Daws in advance apologizes to Eigen for this.
The author’s concern did not deter Michael Eigen from writing a foreword. Eigen describes what Daws has accomplished as “soul creation.” He continues. “Daws touches and opens daily adventures of psychic transformations that often play a subterranean role in psychic growth over a lifetime.”
To Daws, Eigen explicates “our perennial soul disquiet.” He quotes Eigen as saying that we need a “commitment to deep experiencing,” and it requires “that the sense of catastrophe must be called forth.”
“Eigen’s psychoanalytic vision” Daws says, is “unique.” His interest, description and praise of Eigen is understandable: Michael Eigen is one of the more unique figures in the entire history of psychoanalysis. His writings combine concern with damaged bonds, psychic deadness, emotional storms, toxic nourishment, contact with the depths, and psychoanalytic mysticism. All these terms are titles of his books. Eigen has also brought the Jewish mystical tradition Kabbalah and other religious concerns into his framework. Eigen writes, “Divine sparks work in us.” To him, psychoanalysis needs to “touch the infinite unknown.”
Eigen has garnered exceptional high praise from fellow psychoanalysts. Psychoanalyst and philosopher Jon Mills writes that “Michael Eigen is one of the greatest psychoanalysts of our time.” Christopher Bollas says of Eigen: “No one else thinks like this, writes like this, or puts psychoanalysis into a separate realm… (T)his is literature for the ages.” Adrienne Harris states that in reading Eigen, one learns “about the creative power of disruption and turbulence” and the need for other clinicians to do as Eigen does and go “deeply into the awesome terrain that lies within oneself.”
Some psychoanalysts who have been highly praised as opening new doors are focused on proclaiming their originality. Not Eigen. He often concentrates not on his own contributions but what he has learned from Wilfred Bion, Donald Winnicott, and Henry Elkin, among others. Eigen is a low-key person, but his writings and his character have had a highly dramatic impact on some of his readers.
Loray Daws says that on first reading Eigen in 1998, “A sudden atmospheric inner shift caught me off guard – I was left breathless and wept from a place I forgot.” Another ardent admirer of Eigen’s work, Robin Bagai, describes what overcame him on initially encountering Eigen’s writings, “I was surprised to discover that my face had become wet with tears. I found myself unexpectedly weeping… I was taken aback, and wasn’t quite sure why I was crying, just knew I was being deeply touched.” It led him to ask himself, “Who is this guy Michael Eigen, and how does he manage to speak to my insides, affecting me like this?”
Daws addresses these questions by giving Eigen’s brief biography. Michael Eigen was born in the 1930s in Passaic New Jersey to a Jewish family. His father was a lawyer and businessman, his mother a teacher. Daws quotes from a 2007 interview where Eigen says, “My mother was supporting and caring. Nevertheless, I felt terribly hurt by her going to work when I was very young… I still feel the rip of her leaving to go to work when I was eight months old.” He says his father’s rage “squelched, compressed, deformed me.” Eigen thinks that in response he developed “a wish to be free, push past confines, burst through a sense of being held back.” Another relevant fact. When Michael was 21 his 11-year-old brother was hit by a truck and killed. Their mother never recovered.
From these accounts of Eigen’s earlier life, Daws jumps to the psychoanalysts who helped shape him. Understandably, he first discusses Henry Elkin, who was Eigen’s analyst from 1960 to 1968. Eigen did not terminate this treatment. Elkin divorced, and then escaped New York for a faculty position in Pittsburgh. Elkin’s abandonment scarred Eigen, although he did find a new therapist, Dorothy Bloch. In his book, Daws quotes Eigen’s 2016 statement about a “deep ill-feeling (that) did not leave until my seventies.” Despite the psychic wound, Elkin’s thoughts became important. Through Elkin, Eigen got a job at a school for disturbed children that led him to become a therapist himself.
Another positive turning point for Eigen was at the age of 42, in 1978, when he met in New York the legendary British psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion. Bion helped Eigen decide to marry and have children. Bion’s writings still inspire Eigen 45 years after they first encountered each other.
Eigen also shared an interest with French analyst Andre Green in allowing discussions about psychosis in the psychoanalytic domain. Donald Winnicott is another thinker who had a big impact on Eigen. From their own personal encounter in 1968, Eigen took away that it is fine to be the person he is, however different that might be.
It took a while for Eigen to become an author. When he did so, Eigen became quite prolific. Daws lists 32 works by Eigen in his bibliography. Loray Daws finds certain patterns in Eigen’s writings. Daws describes seven elements contained within Eigen’s authored pieces. They are positive sides to pathological tendencies, the centrality of self-emptying and letting go, having transformational experiences, developing ideal images, cultivating an internal dialectic between catastrophe and faith, working with the demonized aspects of the self, being immersed in “self-other states of omnipotence, mindlessness-selflessness, and omniscience.” Daws asserts that Eigen’s writings provide a “hopeful and devoted guardian … to the process of transformation (rebirth).” To me then, what Daws has just done, illuminates how Eigen integrates the psychoanalytic and spiritual dimensions.
Daws then delineates what he calls Eigen’s five psychoanalytic epochs. The first epoch is our injured primordial sense of self. The second is that to survive nameless dread, we may develop psychic retreats and rigidity. The third epoch is that through these emotional storms we may find “the act of psychoanalytic freedom.” In the fourth epoch, we can come upon the dialectic of evil, megalomania, and spirituality. Eigen’s fifth epoch, Daws says, is cultivating a rhythm of faith that sustains our primordial soul needs within our trauma-nourishment realities. Again, what Daws elucidates, shows how the challenge of being human entails the interconnection between psychoanalysis and the soul. And Eigen became a distinctive force of integration of the various elements that make up the history of psychoanalysis.
Daws next explicates the thought of Elkin, Bion, and Winnicott, the three most influential contributors to Eigen’s own perspectives. Daws finds that Elkin serves “as psychological soil” for Eigen. To Elkin, there is a psychic split that is experienced as a broken heart, and which underlies the experience of tragedy amongst humans. There can be a healing of salvation with a regression to communion with what is perceived as the “good mother,” and this restores basic trust. This can include faith in a living deity.
Winnicott is not as religiously redemptive as Elkin. Daws says that for both Eigen and Winnicott the fear and experience of psychic breakdown awakens defenses against unthinkable anxieties. For Winnicott, this can lead to a regression to an unintegrated state, a loss of a sense of what is real and reduction of the capacity to relate to objects. The bouncing back can be stimulated by a loving other and recovering a sense of one’s true self amidst joyful contact with the creative.
Wilfred Bion is a preeminent influence on Eigen, and not only Eigen. Loray Daws sees Bion as “the Plato of psychoanalysis.” To Bion, Eigen says “the psyche’s basic job is to transmute initial catastrophic globs of experience into psychically soluble events.” As per Eigen, the challenge is to process “catastrophic events,” for “trauma destroys and nourishes.” And again, Eigen to Bion: we need to develop “pure receptiveness” and be able to “tolerate fragmentation … dry periods and psychic dust storms.” We may develop a faith that “thrives at our cutting edge.” We then to Bion are “experiencing experience” and liberation can emerge. The dark night of the soul can lead to something else than dread and disgust. To Eigen, we go “through the murderous object that psychic birth evolves.” By being open to “the worst” we can be “coming through.” What Bion writes of is then taken by Eigen to the light within and beyond the darkness.
A central part of Eigen’s faith is connected to the idea on how the process of psychoanalysis can help us get to self-liberation after too much toxic nourishment. Daws says that “Eigen’s psychoanalytic sensibility maps untapped creative aspects of pathology.” It is the aim of therapy to reach the depths of the creative soul. As Eigen proclaims, and Daws quotes, “Throughout our lives we are pregnant with our lives, pregnant with unborn selves and psychic babies… Gestation does not end.”
An obstacle to realizing our creativity is when a person feels dead. Daws writes that this experience of being dead can just be “a temporary drop in euphoria… or reflect a pervasive inner reality.” He quotes Eigen as saying that deadness can be understood as “frozen emotion, defense against emotion” and “can be cruel if the capacity to support emotion is missing or damaged.”
For Eigen, a psychoanalytic therapy with an emphasis on primary process work can help. Eigen himself writes that “loving the flow of primary process meanings has made my life worthwhile.” To Eigen, “Primary process work … is the blood of personality … issuing nutrients throughout the psychic body.” Still, he is aware that “primary process may never catch up to the sense of injury… One learns to give pain more time.” It is Eigen’s ability to wait, and his faith that the recuperative can appear, that is a strong feature of Eigen as therapist.
As Daws perceptively observes, “Supporting the therapeutic unfolding of a ruined self … and tolerating being annihilated together, are all central to Eigen’s psychoanalytic ethic.” Daws then delineates seven components of what the ruined self encounters. They are: (a) body ego fright; (b) the personality may congeal around trauma; (c) undoing the collapse is “notoriously challenging”; (d) some psychic realities for a time may be too traumatic to process; (e) a damaged self may become addicted to the bad object; (f) an ego-destructive superego may undercut the self; (g) dealing with these patterns in therapy may best be approached in therapy by analytic nibbling.
Eigen does believe that over time “nourishing aspects of the environment do get through.” For “nourishing aspects” can “outlast or co-exist with damaging aspects.” Eigen writes that it can be that “mutual endurance” along with nourishment can produce “gradual shifts of balance.”
Daws finds that within Eigen’s writings are an “affective triptych” of ecstasy, rage, and lust. These three are titles of books Eigen wrote and published between 2001 and 2006. These are all part of the emotional storms that humans experience. Ecstasy, this peak experience, can be connected to lust, and to Eigen, it alternates with agony. Rage to Eigen can be traumatizing, obliterating, and lead to terrorizing fury. There can emerge a cumulative resonance that then may move beyond this triptych; it can offset cumulative trauma and provide an opening. Then a “growing faith” can appear, as per Eigen, which is the core of our work, the very core.”
As Daws says, the wound that never heals can encounter the flame that never goes out. For amidst the volatile emotional storms, to Eigen, there is a “sacred core of human life.” For “agonized suffering … (leaves) … nothing but the God point remaining.” To Eigen, religion “is a different way of living” …, and then, we can be “born anew.” For Eigen, the self-discovery and self-realization process of psychoanalytic therapy may lead to the sacred core of being human. And this may lead us, in Eigen’s words, “to become more or less creative catastrophes.” Eigen writes that one can be “transformed inside by a feeling you didn’t expect to have.” For Eigen, this is one aspect of being a self. Eigen confesses that he himself “was transformed by love.” He knows he is “far from perfect … (and) … still a mess,” but “less dangerous… (and) … transformed.” Eigen’s faith is in personal flourishing, while remaining a mess, and connecting to the sacred core that illuminates and enriches human existence.
Loray Daws has taken us on an illuminating trip through the many layers and dimensions of Eigen’s writing. This human journey contains many dramas, traumas, and breakthroughs. There is so much to gain from the Michael Eigen that Daws faithfully presents.
11. CELEBRATING SHAKESPEAR’S BIRTHDAY
by Inna Rozentsvit
William Shakespeare, one of the greatest playwrights in history, was born on April 23, 1564, in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. Every year, people all over the world celebrate his birthday as a way to pay tribute to his incredible contributions to literature and the arts. Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets continue to inspire people of all ages and cultures, making him a timeless figure in the world of literature.
William Shakespeare was also a master of poetry. He wrote more than 150 sonnets and several longer narrative poems, all of which showcase his exceptional talent for language and his ability to capture the complexities of the human experience.
Shakespeare’s sonnets are perhaps his most well-known poems, and they are studied and admired by scholars and readers alike. These 14-line poems follow a strict rhyme scheme and meter, and they often explore themes of love, beauty, and mortality. In his sonnets, Shakespeare employs a range of poetic devices, such as metaphor, allusion, and personification, to convey his ideas and emotions.
One of Shakespeare’s most famous sonnets is Sonnet 18, which begins with the famous line, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” In this sonnet, Shakespeare compares his beloved to the beauty of nature and declares that their beauty will live on forever in his poetry. Sonnet 116 is another well-known example, in which Shakespeare defines true love as a force that is constant and unwavering, even in the face of adversity.
In addition to his sonnets, Shakespeare also wrote several longer narrative poems, including “Venus and Adonis” and “The Rape of Lucrece.” These poems tell stories of love, lust, and tragedy, and they showcase Shakespeare’s gift for storytelling and his ability to create vivid characters and settings through language.
While Shakespeare is perhaps best known for his plays, his poems offer a glimpse into another side of his artistic genius. His poetry is characterized by its elegance, wit, and emotional depth, and it has inspired countless readers and writers over the centuries. Whether you’re a seasoned poetry lover or just starting to explore the world of verse, Shakespeare’s poems are a must-read for anyone who appreciates the power of language and the beauty of the written word.
Celebrating Shakespeare’s birthday can take many forms, from attending performances of his plays to reading his works at home. Here are some ideas for ways to celebrate this important day:
William Shakespeare’s birthday, a time to celebrate
A poet, a playwright, a master of his fate
Born in Stratford-upon-Avon, in the year 1564
His legacy lives on, forevermore
His plays and sonnets, a treasure to behold
A glimpse into his mind, a story to be told
Hamlet, Macbeth, and Romeo and Juliet
Characters that we’ll never forget
Attend a play, watch a film, or read a sonnet
Experience his work, and you won’t regret it
Gather with friends, take on different roles
Discuss themes and characters, and let the story unfold
Attend a lecture, or visit a site
Learn about his life, and his plays’ insight
Shakespeare’s birthday, a time to honor
His legacy, a gift that will never falter
However you choose to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday, the important thing is to remember his legacy and the impact he continues to have on our world. His plays and sonnets are timeless works of art that will continue to inspire and entertain generations to come.
12. WHAT WE SHOULD BE THANKFUL TO SHAKESPEARE FOR
by Inna Rozentsvit
Oh William Shakespeare, forever young,
Your impact on society, still far from done,
You pioneered the English language and culture,
And still, your style, fresh as a dewdrop in the morning.
Your plays are performed on stages worldwide,
Your sonnets studied by both young and old,
The words you penned, in dictionaries, reside,
Your influence on literature, forever untold.
Your works, taught in schools, from coast to coast,
Creating avid readers, drama club devotees,
From “Hamlet” to “Romeo and Juliet,” a host,
Of timeless tales that always aim to please.
“The Lion King” based on “Hamlet” you say?
An easy parallel, but not the only way,
“West Side Story,” a retelling of “Romeo and Juliet,”
And “10 Things I Hate About You,” a modern twist.
But your words, oh Shakespeare, were not just for the stage,
Your insults, pick-up lines, and new words, all the rage,
Your insults, a weapon, for verbal showdowns,
Your pick-up lines, a surefire way, to make hearts pound.
And as for your linguistic innovations,
Inventing, popularizing, repurposing, and preserving,
Thousands of common words, in the English language,
Your impact on our world, forever deserving.
So let’s drop some quotes, put on a play or film,
And spend some time with you, the man, the legend,
William Shakespeare, forever young, still at the helm,
A true icon, whose impact, no time can ever end.
A Note to the Reader:
I am not a poet, but a lover of poetry, nurtured by the works of Pushkin, Lermontov, Yesenin, Aliger, Blok, Akhmatova, Tsvetayeva, Yevtushenko, and many others. I never tried writing poems, as I believed that I never could write a poem worthy of reading. But being a part of the IPhA and attending Howard Stein’s “Poetry Workshops” changed my views around writing poetry as a dilettante. It takes curiosity about yourself, and it takes courage to write poems. It takes the ability to be vulnerable, which is the main ingredient for connection to other beings, other souls…
So, if you love poetry, are curious about your relationship with it, or if you are a poetry critic – please write poetry (or about poetry) for the IPhA News or for Clio’s Psyche. See Call for Papers in the Bulletin Board below.
13. BULLETIN BOARD
Announcing the Psychobiography Reading Group
of the Psychohistory Forum on June 3, 2023
June 3rd, 2023 (11:00am – 1pm EDT; rooms open at 10:30 am), 3rd Meeting
For our 3rd meeting, we will be reading Chapters 2 and 3 of
Erik Erikson’s Young Man Luther: A Study in Psychoanalysis and History.
For more information and to RSVP – visit
Dr. Susan Kavaler-Adler’s book celebration – you are invited
Developmental Mourning, Erotic Transference, and Object Relations Psychoanalysis
(Vol I of Selected Papers, IP Books)
On SUNDAY APRIL 30TH, 2023, 2 PM
@ the home of Dr. Denise Phillips,
43 East 10th Street (between University Place and Broadway), Apt 1A, NYC
BRING YOUR CURIOSITY, AND HAVE ACCESS TO THE AUTHOR SIGNING BOOKS
For more information and to RSVP, follow the link here:
For more information about Dr. Kavaler-Adler’s practice, theories, and creative endeavors, visit
Psychohistory Forum Hybrid (In-person and Virtual) Meeting
“I Double Dare You to Prove It to Me!
— Using Qualitative Observations to Understand Everyday Phenomena”
with Burton Norman Seitler, PhD (S.P.U.R. and Private Practice)
For more information about the topic, the presenter,
to read the work-in-progress paper in advance,
and to RSVP, visit:
An Object Relations Approach to Parent-Child Interactions
That Impact the Child’s Emotional Development
Virtual Live Interactive Seminar
with Dr. David P. Celani
June 10 & 11, 2023 (10am – 1:30pm EST – on both days)
Continuing Education: 8.5 CEs for APA, NYS Psych, NYS SW
For more information and to register, please visit
Call for Papers: Psychobiography
(due September 15, 2023)
For this Winter 2024 Special Feature of Clio’s Psyche, we welcome your submissions with psychoanalytic, psychological, and psychohistorical insights, on PSYCHOBIOGRAPHY, including the following subjects:
- The autobiographies of psychobiographers (eventually to be included in an edited book along with psychobiographies they have written).
- Focus comparatively on the coping mechanisms of people in psychobiography.
- Psychobiographical studies that illustrate transgenerational transmission of trauma and resilience.
- Presenting a case study of an academic psychologist going beyond personal. characteristics and traits to emphasize the childhood and life passage of the whole person.
- A psychobiographical study of a major academic psychologist relating theory to her/his life.
- Presenting a case study of an academic psychoanalyst focusing much less on theory. after undergoing psychoanalytic training and delving into the childhood and inner life in a different manner.
- Teaching psychobiography.
- A comparative study of the approaches and methodologies of psychobiographers from a variety of fields.
- A comparative psychobiography of ordinary people in crisis such as what is happening in Ukraine.
- The role of gender: A comparative study of the psychobiographies written by women and men.
- An in-depth study of psychobiographies of the 20thcentury including early Freudian ones.
- Book reviews on psychobiographical monographs.
- Reviews of psychobiographical books and major media biographies.
For more information about this Call for Papers, please follow the link here:
Call for Papers – Anti-Semitism
(due October 1, 2023)
We welcome your submissions, especially personalized ones with psychoanalytic, psychological, and psychohistorical insights on the hatred of Jews in the contemporary and historical worlds, including on the following subjects:
- Definitions of anti-Semitism.
- Is anti-Semitism a useful term, although Jew-hatred is more accurate?
- Envy and resentment of Jews, sometimes leading to paranoia.
- Historical Jew-hating in polytheistic Egypt, Persia, and Rome.
- Emerging rampant anti-Semitism during the Crusades.
- Christian and Islamic anti-Semitism throughout history.
- Castration anxiety related to the Jewish covenant involving circumcision of the foreskin.
- Sibling rivalry of Christians and Muslims who see Judaism as the Oldest Abrahamic religion.
- Disagreement with Israeli governmental policies as a cloak for anti-Semitism?
- Why is the hatred of Jews such an enduring feature of Western and Islamic history?
- A double standard for Jews: Is the “Jew as victim” challenged by Israeli toughness?
- Jewish self-hared: Anti-Semitism among Jews—Marx and many others.
- What are the parallels between Jews in the U.S. and in pre-expulsion Spain and Germany?
- Pioneers of capitalism and modernity: Are Jews hated as the yeast of modern civilization?
- What is the relationship of Judaism and psychoanalysis?
- Why did Stalin, a not-so-secret anti-Semite, call Jew-hatred a form of cannibalism?
- How does Left-wing and communist anti-Semitism differ from Right-wing Jew hatred?
- The literature of anti-Semitism.
We seek articles from 1,500-2,500 words—including your title, author name with affiliation, a 25-word abstract, 7-10 keywords, and your brief biography (3-4 sentences) ending in your email address. Send documents in Microsoft Word (*docx or doc) format by October 1, 2023. We urge you to share this Call for Papers with colleagues and lists. A high-quality article of up to 3500 words received by July 1, 2023 may be accepted as a symposium piece and distributed for commentaries.
For more information, please visit:
Call for Papers – The Relationship of Poetry and Psychoanalysis/Psychohistory
(due October 1, 2023)
We invite papers from poets, scholars, therapists, and our readers who enjoy thinking about or writing poetry to join in moving from unconscious to conscious expression, including on the following subjects:
- What does the poetry you write or read mean to you?
- Why not write a poem on how psychoanalysis impacted your life?
- What is the therapeutic value of poetry?
- Why is the poetry of death, dying, and loss so helpful in the grieving process?
- Why did Freud recognize that the poets, as well as the philosophers before him, discovered the unconscious?
- How do trauma and poetic expression intersect?
- What is the relationship between poetry and politics and social activism?
- What poem has meant the most to you and why?
- Why not write a psychobiographical account of one of your favorite poets?
- How does poetry help people to confront their deepest unconscious desires?
- How do people connect through poetry?
- How can applied psychohistorical poetry contribute to scholarship without being “academic”?
- How does poetry make sense of repressed emotions, rendering the inchoate coherent?
- Why not compare the poetry of fear, love, hatred, patriotism, and war?
- Why is poetry so meaningful in the Russian tradition?
- Why is poetry so relatively insignificant in the American tradition?
We seek articles from 1,500-2,500 words—including your title, author name with affiliation, a 25-word abstract, 7-10 keywords, and your brief biography (3-4 sentences) ending in your email address. Send documents in Microsoft Word (*docx or doc) format by October 1, 2023. We would welcome a symposium article of up to 3,500 words on the subject, but it must be submitted by October 1 to be peer reviewed and to have colleagues write commentaries (of up to 1,200 words) of it. We urge you to share this Call for Papers with colleagues and lists.
For more information, please check the full Call for Papers at the following webpage:
- 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, 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