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J., E. (1922). The Story of a Style: A Psychoanalytic study of Woodrow Wilson. By William Bayard Hale. (B. W. Huebsch, Inc., New York. 1920. Pp. 303. Price 2 dollars.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 3:385-386.

(1922). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 3:385-386

The Story of a Style: A Psychoanalytic study of Woodrow Wilson. By William Bayard Hale. (B. W. Huebsch, Inc., New York. 1920. Pp. 303. Price 2 dollars.)

Review by:
E. J.

This is a remarkable and orginal study, written without any technical aid but with rare psychological insight. Apart from the subject-matter, it is also interesting in developing a fresh method of psychological investigation. It is an attempt to ascertain the psychological characteristics of a man, ex-President Wilson being chosen for the purpose, by a detailed examination of his language, a method which some day will be employed in the study of racial psychology, the differences between the English and American language naturally suggesting itself as a fruitful opportunity.

The material for the study is taken from Dr. Wilson's writings during the past forty years, but some of his speeches are also drawn upon. These have been studied with a minuteness so extraordinary as to presuppose an unusually strong interest as motive. To count the various adjectives employed in thousands of pages must alone have been an immense labour. In spite of all the author's protestations to the contrary it is hard not to believe that the motive was a hostile one, if only for the simple reason that throughout the book every conclusion drawn is an unfavourable one. The author applies an almost impossibly high standard to his material, making no allowances for the licence generally allowed to the utterances of politicians and treating them as though they should have been models of scientific accuracy and close thinking. As this standard is never applied in such spheres it seems a little unfair to expect it of a particular individual. Further, the author is at times distinctly pedantic, as when he maintains that a preposition at the end of a sentence is necessarily a sign of bad grammar.

Nevertheless, in spite of this unmistakable bias, it seems to us that the author has succeeded in proving his general thesis—namely, that it is possible to draw important inferences from a close study of a person's habitual language, and that in the case in question the general conclusions reached are the reverse of flattering.

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