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Colp, R., Jr (1990). The Psychohistorian's Handbook, by Henry Lawton, London/New York: The Psychohistory Press, 241 pages, $25.95 hb. Free Associations, 1T(19):135-140.

(1990). Free Associations, 1T(19):135-140

The Psychohistorian's Handbook, by Henry Lawton, London/New York: The Psychohistory Press, 241 pages, $25.95 hb

Review by:
Ralph Colp, Jr

This is a small book which manages to cover a large and expanding subject. It is mainly a succession of aperçus — based on annotated bibliographies — on the nature, methodology and different fields of psychohistory. It is addressed to established psychohistory scholars, and to those who want to know more about the interactions between psychoanalysis and history. Its aim is to encourage students, who ‘often feel intimidated about doing psychohistory because they feel themselves to be too young, not knowledgeable enough, not experienced enough, etc.’. It is also a book which — because of the receptive and open-minded attitudes of its author, Henry Lawton — will encourage readers to review and rethink their particular interests, and to want to make additions and revisions to what has here been offered.

In his first chapter, after pointing out that there is still no uniformly accepted definition of psychohistory, Lawton states that in his view the aim of psychohistory is to emphasize the primacy of emotion and fantasy in past events; to do this it relies mainly on psychoanalytic principles and on an interdisciplinary approach, drawing on traditional history, economics, anthropology, small-group psychology, sociology, and family therapy. An overview of the contemporary — largely American — enterprise of psychohistory follows.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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