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Psychology and Historical Interpretation

Edited by William McKinley Runyan

Publication Date - 15 September 1988

ISBN: 9780195053289

320 pages
5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

This is a landmark contribution to the study of lives from the perspective of history, psychology, biography, and literature.


What contributions can psychology make toward understanding the course of individual lives and the flow of historical events? After an introduction which reviews the intellectual and institutional history of the field, chapters by distinguished contributors explore the uses of psychoanalysis, neo-analytic theory, and academic psychology in historical interpretation. Substantive examples range from Joseph Stalin to Alice James, sexuality in Victorian England, the U.S. Continental Congress, and advances in psychohistorical studies of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. The conclusion re-examines the conceptual foundations of psychohistory, outlining its differentiated internal structure and its relationships to adjacent fields such as psychological anthropology, historical sociology, and political psychology. The volume as a whole is intended to advance and deepen the debate about the relationships between psychology, biography, and historical interpretation.

Table of Contents

    1. An Historical and Conceptual Background to Psychohistory, W.M. Runyan
    PART I: Case Studies in Biography and Psychology
    2. A Stalin Biographer's Memoir, R.C. Tucker
    3. Commentary on "A Stalin Biographer's Memoir", A. Dallin
    4. Alice James: A Family Romance, J. Strouse
    PART II: The Uses of Psychoanalysis and Psychology in Historical Interpretation
    5. Psychoanalysis in History, P. Gay
    6. Commentary on "Psychoanalysis in History", P. Paret
    7. Psychoanalytic Models of History: Freud and After, P. Loewenberg
    8. Commentary on "Psychoanalytic Models of History: Freud and After", R.S. Wallerstein
    9. The Problem of Subjectivity in History, F. Weinstein
    10. Commentary on "The Problem of Subjectivity in History", F. Crews
    11. Assessing the Personalities of Historical Figures, K.H. Craik
    12. Alternatives to Psychoanalytic Psychobiography, W.M. Runyan
    PART III: Conclusion and Future Directions
    13. Reconceptualizing the Relationships Between History and Psychology, W.M. Runyan