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Myers, W.A. (1990). Churchill's Black Dog, Kafka's Mice, and Other Phenomena of the Human Mind: By Anthony Storr. New York: Grove Press, 1988. 310 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 59:325-327.

(1990). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 59:325-327

Churchill's Black Dog, Kafka's Mice, and Other Phenomena of the Human Mind: By Anthony Storr. New York: Grove Press, 1988. 310 pp.

Review by:
Wayne A. Myers

The essays by Anthony Storr in this uneven volume are tenuously tied together by the theme of creativity. Thus, we are told that Churchill's creativity can largely be seen as a courageous attempt to keep his "black dog" (the nickname by which he referred to his recurring bouts of depression) at bay.

To bolster his argument, Storr calls upon the typologies of Sheldon and Jung to describe Churchill as doing battle with his inner nature in order to ward off the underlying depression. Much of the evidence marshaled by Storr to validate his hypotheses about Churchill and others comes from this own rather idiosyncratic and eclectic approach to psychiatry. This is not to say that he does not utilize Churchill's own writings in his attempts to understand the man, but that he too often gives equal credence to his own biases.

When he turns to the facts of Churchill's life and to an investigation of his works, I see him as being on firmer ground, though his generalizations even in this sphere disturb me. Thus we are told that both of Churchill's parents were rejecting and that the consequent deprivation he suffered was the underlying cause of his feeling that he was "special" and of his intense ambition to prove this to the world. Further, Sir Winston is seen as having turned his hostility for his parents inward and to have idealized them. His later rage at Hitler is seen as an externalization of the anger toward his parents, which also served to help ward off the underlying depressive feelings.

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