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Ihanus, J. (2006). Book Review. Int. Forum Psychoanal., 15(2):133-134.

(2006). International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 15(2):133-134

Book Review

Review by:
Juhani Ihanus

Jerome A. Winer & James William Anderson (Eds.) (2003 “genetic,” and developmental) point of view. Pioneer psychoanalysts modified their psychopathological excursions in their case studies (“histories”). Most of these early studies followed the model given by pathographers such as Lombroso, Magnan, Moreau, Morel, and Möbius. These texts lay some-where between medical/psychological texts and literary (fantasy) texts. When referring to the psychological study of historical phenomena, whether individual, group, or cultural processes, Freud used the term “applied psychology” or “applied psychoanalysis,” but never the term “psychohistory.”

In many instances, Freud expressed his grave doubts about applying clinical diagnostic categories and pathologizing analyses to historical and cultural subjects. Instead of such routine pathographic labeling, Freud called forth, for example in his Leonardo study, a sound theory of motivation, a careful application of observation and analysis, proscriptive and prescriptive guidelines for psychohistorical research, and a taking more empathically and sensitively into account of the non-pathological, that is, positive and creative, characteristics and achievements of the subjects. In his letter to Lytton Strachey (December 25, 1928), Freud warned that we cannot understand the past for sure because the motives of the actors of the past are unclear and their actions cannot thus be interpreted: “People of the past are like the dreams of which we do not have any associations, and only laymen can demand that we should interpret such dreams.

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