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Hoffs, J.A. (1969). Comments on Psychoanalytic Biography with Special Reference to Freud's Interest in Woodrow Wilson. Psychoanal. Rev., 56C(3):402-414.

(1969). Psychoanalytic Review, 56C(3):402-414

Comments on Psychoanalytic Biography with Special Reference to Freud's Interest in Woodrow Wilson

Joshua A. Hoffs, M.D.

There has been considerable controversy and unfavorable publicity surrounding the publication of Thomas Woodrow Wilson, A Psychological Study, by Sigmund Freud and William C. Bullitt.14 Criticism has appeared in an official publication of the American Psychiatric Association1 as well as in the popular press.5, 15, 17, 19, 20, 22, 23, 24 Outraged critics claim that it is malicious as well as inappropriate to subject a well-known public figure, a former President of the United States, an honored and revered world leader, to a psychological study in which various psychopathological traits and characteristics are brought into the open. In addition, it is claimed that no study or investigation into the psychological development and structure of an individual is permissible unless that individual is examined in a formal psychiatric manner. I shall later discuss these objections to a psychoanalytic study of historical personalities and offer a justification for such an approach.


The book by Freud and Bullitt14 is divided into the following sections:

A Foreword, by Bullitt, in which he describes the development and nature of his collaboration with Freud, as well as the source material used in obtaining information about Wilson.

An Introduction, by Freud, in which he describes some of Wilson's outstanding characteristics, especially his religious orientation. Freud's own feelings towards Wilson are discussed frankly.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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