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Winner, P. (1949). War, Politics, and Insanity. Psychoanal Q., 18:240-242.

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(1949). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 18:240-242

War, Politics, and Insanity

Review by:
Percy Winner

By C. S. Bluemel, M.D. Denver: The World Press, Inc., 1948. 121 pp.

POWER AND PERSONALITY. By Harold Dwight Lasswell, Ph.D. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., Inc., 1948. 262 pp.

It is Dr. Bluemel's purpose 'to study the psychological qualities of political leadership and to identify the disorders of personality with which aggressive leadership is commonly associated'. He became interested in the subject after the national election of 1932 when, as a practicing psychiatrist, he 'chanced to see a number of local politicians who suffered from mental breakdowns following their political defeat' and 'was astonished at the number of suicidal attempts and actual suicides among them'.

Rather than a study, Dr. Bluemel's book is an informally discursive excursion into the 'psychiatry of history', causal, superficial, rather naïve but pleasantly old-fashioned in its earnestness. The doctor believes that the continuation of world-wide strife after the second world war 'results not so much from a conflict of interests as from a conflict of personalities'. He finds 'a definite relationship between war, politics and insanity', fears that 'one of the cardinal causes of war is the fact that national leadership frequently falls to men of abnormal mental make-up', and comes to the conclusion that the psychological qualities of leadership in the successful politician form a recognizable pattern which 'consists in high dominance drive invariably associated with obsessive-compulsive tendencies'. Various 'leaders' from Genghis Khan to James Caesar Petrillo are discussed, usually on the basis of current books about them by journalists.

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