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Winer, J.A. Jobe, T. Ferrono, C. (1984). Toward a Psychoanalytic Theory of the Charismatic Relationship. Ann. Psychoanal., 12:155-175.

(1984). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 12:155-175

Toward a Psychoanalytic Theory of the Charismatic Relationship

Jerome A. Winer, M.D., Thomas Jobe, M.D. and Carlton Ferrono

What is charisma? What is a charismatic leader? How do charismatic leaders have the effect they do? How do they inspire such devotion from their followers? Do their followers share certain psychological traits? How do the leaders acquire their followers? But, most importantly, what intrapsychic processes enable charismatic leaders to produce and disseminate new values and institutions or reshape old ones to the great benefit of or great harm to their societies? These questions stand in need of intrapsychic and group-psychological explanation. A comprehensive depth-psychological theory of charismatic leadership, though badly needed, has not yet been developed despite beginnings by psychoanalytic, psychohistorical, social-psychological, and sociological theorists. This paper will examine the concept of charisma with particular emphasis on some of the unexplored psychological issues, in an attempt to understand the charismatic relationship from a psychoanalytic viewpoint.

Psychoanalytic theorists have tended to see charismatic leadership as a problem for social psychology, sociology, and political science rather than for depth psychology. This is understandable because of Max Weber's brilliant development of the concept earlier in this century in a series of works which remained totally within the sociological realm (Weber, 1968).

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