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Wolfenstein, E.V. (1989). Psycho/history. Readings in the Method of Psychology, Psychoanalysis, and History: Edited by Geoffrey Cocks and Travis L. Crosby. New Haven/London: Yale University Press, 1987. 318 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 58:312-316.

(1989). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 58:312-316

Psycho/history. Readings in the Method of Psychology, Psychoanalysis, and History: Edited by Geoffrey Cocks and Travis L. Crosby. New Haven/London: Yale University Press, 1987. 318 pp.

Review by:
E. Victor Wolfenstein

As the subtitle indicates, Cocks and Crosby have collected a number of essays (eighteen in all) concerned with methodological issues in psychohistory. The volume is intended for use in undergraduate psychohistory courses. I would imagine it could be quite appropriate in that context, as well as for more advanced readers newly interested in the field. For the more sophisticated student of psychohistory, however, it presents nothing new. Reading it is instead like a visit with old friends—and old foes. This effect upon the reader is not accidental: the editors have quite successfully arranged the contributions so as to highlight controversial issues.

The essays are divided into three categories: psychohistorical methodology in general; methodological issues in the study of individuals; and methodological issues in the study of groups. The aim of the collection as a whole is to offer a "balanced introduction to psychohistory" and to "provide a springboard for a discussion of general historiographical issues" (p. ix). In the latter regard the editors raise the question of whether historical research is "a scientific process of empirical inquiry, verification, and predication," oriented toward the establishment of general laws; or whether it is an endeavor utilizing the "empathic understanding" of historical actors to construct plausible narratives (p. ix). They seem to opt for an ill-defined combination of the two views: "'Human sciences' … can employ a combination of both objective and subjective thinking" (p.

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