TABLE OF CONTENTS
- WHAT ON EARTH IS GOING ON – PSYCHOHISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES ON A WORLD ON THE EDGE
by the IPhA Leadership Team
- From the “FEARED OTHER” to ANTISEMITISM, from DENIAL of AGGRESSION to ART, MATH, and RELIGION, and from CHILD ABUSE & TRAUMA to POST-TRAUMATIC GROWTH: Presentations on DAY 1 of the Conference, on Thursday, May 18th, 2023.
- From the Issues of CULTURE, SOCIETY, SOCIAL JUSTICE, and WOUNDED LEADERS — to NEURO-PSYCHO-BIOLOGY, TRANSGENERATIONAL PATTERNS OF PARENTHOOD — to UKRAINE WAR, IDEOLOGY, and MILITARY SPENDING: Presentations and Panels on DAY 2 of the Conference, on Friday, MAY 19th, 2023.
- THIRD PSYCHOHISTORY FORUM’S LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS CEREMONY. Panelists and Awardees: C. Fred Alford; David J. Fisher; William M. Runyan, Daniel Rancour-Laferriere; Marshall Alcorn; William Nye; Jim Anderson; & Paul Elovitz.
- REPORT on the CONFERENCE for SUSAN KAVALER-ADLER’S NEW BOOK on DEVELOPMENTAL MOURNING
by Ken Fuchsman
- From PSYCHOBIOGRAPHY to the MOTHER IMAGO and HEALING CHILDHOOD and OTHER TRAUMA — to SEX, SOCIETY and RELATIONSHIPS — to PSYCHOHISTORICAL POETRY, FAITH, and PSYCHOLOGY: Presentations and Panels on DAY 3 of the Conference, on Saturday, MAY 20th, 2023.
- THE MATERNAL IMAGO IN FRENCH POLITICAL LIFE (1789-1914): INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, BRIGITTE DEMEURE
by Ken Fuchsman
- BEING HUMAN: AN INTERVIEW WITH KEN FUCHSMAN
by Inna Rozentsvit
- PUTIN and XI AS PATRIMONIAL RULERS: ANCIENT TRADITIONS TRUMP MARXISM
by J. I. (Hans) Bakker
- WHAT SHOULD PSYCHOHISTORIANS DO ABOUT ANTISEMITISM?
by Inna Rozentsvit.
- Bulletin Board
- IPA Contacts
INTERNATIONAL PSYCHOHISTORICAL ASSOCIATION
46th ANNUAL CONFERENCE — VIRTUAL LIVE
MAY 18-20, 2023
WHAT ON EARTH IS GOING ON?
PSYCHOHISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES ON A WORLD ON THE EDGE
PSYCHOHISTORICAL INSIGHTS ON
• CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE PSYCHOLOGY OF DENIAL
• WARS, GEOPOLITICAL CONFLICT, AND OTHER INTERNATIONAL CRISES
• RESURGENT TRIBALISM: BACKLASH TO NEOLIBERAL GLOBALIZATION
• GENDER, RACE, AND IDEOLOGIES OF DOMINATION
• INTERGENERATIONAL TRANSMISSION OF TRAUMA AND RESILIENCE
• PSYCHOANALYSIS and the TURMOIL OF OUR TIMES — CAN STRUCTURE HOLD, and SHOULD IT?
• GROUP PSYCHOLOGY AND ANALYSIS OF THE EGO IN A TIME OF GLOBALIZATION
• MUSIC, POETRY, AND HEALING
• CHILDHOOD AND ITS HISTORY
With record breaking temperatures, wildfires, and extreme weather events, it is now clear that humanity faces a climate emergency and Sixth Extinction that threaten both human civilization and our planet’s biodiversity. Yet an entire political party in the United States and similar parties in other countries exhibit a psychology of denial about the urgency of the threat and its human causes. Other global aspects of our “Anthropocene epoch” encompass what some call a New Cold War, pandemics, and an acceleration of technological change including artificial intelligence.
All this is occurring in the context of an international political-economic system that puts profits before the needs of ordinary people, fueling a populist backlash to globalization. In its right-wing variants, this includes toxic racial and gender dynamics; authoritarian politics and religion; and other forms of tribalism.
Where do we begin in responding effectively to these myriad challenges? In this conference we tap the full range of psychoanalytic and psychohistorical resources as a basis for understanding and healing.
KEYNOTE: STEVEN PINKER
THE BETTER ANGELS OF OUR NATURE
Steven Pinker is a cognitive psychologist, psycholinguist, the Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University; and the author of nine books for general audiences, including The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence has Declined; Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress; and Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, and Why It Matters.
SALLY WEINTROBE: PSYCHOLOGICAL ROOTS OF THE CLIMATE CRISIS
JAMES W. ANDERSON: ANIMOSITY, AFFECTION, AGONY, AND EMPATHY: ELEMENTS IN PSYCHOBIOGRAPHERS’ RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE PEOPLE THEY STUDY
Sally Weintrobe is a psychoanalyst writing on the climate crisis. She is a Fellow of the British Psychoanalytical Society (BPAS), a long-standing Member of the Climate Psychology Alliance, and she chairs the International Psychoanalytical Association’s Committee on Climate Change. She was formerly an Honorary Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychoanalytic Studies at University College London, and a member of teaching staff at the Tavistock Clinic. One of her recent authored books is Psychological Roots of the Climate Crisis: Neoliberal Exceptionalism and the Culture of Uncare.
James W. Anderson is the Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University, past President of the Chicago Psychoanalytic Society and Editor of the Annual of Psychoanalysis. Dr. Anderson has published psychobiographical essays on Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, D. W. Winnicott, Edith Wharton, Frank Lloyd Wright and the brothers William and Henry James. His forthcoming book is Psychobiography: In Search of the Inner Life.
The FULL PROGRAM (also available below) and the REGISTRATION FORM
can be accessed via the following link:
The rest of the entries of this Spring 2023 IPhA’s Newsletter will be dedicated to the conference presenters or/and its topics.
FROM THE “FEARED OTHER” TO ANTISEMITISM,
FROM DENIAL OF AGGRESSION TO ART, MATH, AND RELIGION,
AND FROM CHILDHOOD ABUSE & TRAUMA TO POST-TRAUMATIC GROWTH:
PRESENTATIONS ON DAY 1 OF THE CONFERENCE,
on THURSDAY, MAY 18th, 2023
On Day 1 of the Conference, besides the plenaries by Sally Weintrobe and Steven Pinker, we will enjoy presentations by Ruth Lijtmaer, Gerardo Canul, Jerome Blackman, Peter Petschauer, Joshua Lee Cohen, April Grigsby, Dorothea Leicher, Julie Ancis, John Paul Rice, and Jeffrey Rubin (in the order or appearance).
Below are the short summaries of all presentations offered on Thursday, and the short biographies of the presenters are available online at http:https://psychohistory.us/ipha-2023/.
Evil Spirits and the feared “other” — Ruth Lijtmaer
All ideologies may become evil spirits that drive into a flock of swine. Yet ideology in the form of poisonous prejudice and hate against race, class, religion, ethnic minorities, or gender, is often skillfully hidden behind deception and lies. Is evil simple the absence of good, or is it more an active pursuit of wrongdoing? Why is the “other” so dangerous?
Dialogue and the recognition of the “Other” as a human being is an emergency now that the populations in the world are polarized due to the pandemic, climate change, politics, and war.
Connecting to an Unknown Matrilineal Genealogy: Responding to the Intuitive Voice — Gerardo Canul
Researchers have identified various variables to understand the influence of intergenerational history and in particular the mother-child relationship on a person’s identity, developmental, and many other important psychological parts (Antonovsky, 1959; Ainsworth, 1969; Bowlby, 2012). Psychoanalysis serves the purpose of at minimum increasing awareness of unconscious patterns, behaviors, and/or emotions. Yet, exploring the potential of an ethnographic research approach that emphasizes listening to one’s intuition and deeply reflecting on one’s history and identity development is less practiced (Cunningham and Carmichael, 2018; Epstein, 2010). A self-reflective examination of maternal history and the role of culture and religion in maintaining an unknown and emotional distance has been absent in my ethnographic research. Chan (2002) proposes that there is an advantage to the child when there is a positive relationship between a mother and the maternal grandmother. Finlay (2002) proposes that learning through reflection presents an opportunity for various options for pursuing a reflexive experience. While the focus of my qualitative research into my Mayan history has been dominant, the glaring absence of a matrilineal genealogy examination is undoubtable (Canul, 2017).
Utilizing photographs, examination of Catholic core beliefs, and Mexican American core cultural values has provided the context for an exploration of the relationship between self, mother, and maternal grandmother. The results of this self-reflection identify the potential parts that have held back integrating a maternal family history.
Denial & Minimization of Hostile Aggression Throughout History: A Psychoanalytic Perspective — Jerome Blackman
From ancient times to the present, leaders and populations have tended to minimize or outrightly deny the danger posed by bad actors who threaten world domination, destruction, and war. The mechanisms are first described theoretically as defensive operations. Then, several historical examples are given of individuals, leaders, and entire populations who used these defensive operations — and their tragic outcomes.
The Unease in Culture (Das Unbehagen in der Kultur) — Peter Petschauer
The disillusionment with the “modern” world is not new and I will attempt to show that it has less to do with any current system and more with deeper seated, as Freud noted, tendencies. A reinterpretation of the master.
“I Was There”: How Storytelling Can Heal Trauma and Lead to Post-Traumatic Growth — Joshua Lee Cohen
This presentation will connect people in the psychohistorical community with the power of Storytelling and how it can heal individuals and even nations, despite overwhelming trauma. Storytelling also provides Posttraumatic Growth opportunities, allowing people to grow from conflict in a way that honors the suffering and still allows for the possibility of rewriting the traumatic narrative. Dr. Cohen is relying on the research of his previous book and StoryCenter’s 40-year tradition. As described in “Digital Storytelling, Healing for the YouTube Generation of Veterans,” written by Rivka Tuval Maschiach and Benjamin Patton, this presentation and discussion will illustrate how this creative-expressive tool of digital storytelling could be understood neurobiologically – because of the way how the blocked connective pathways get untangled by reflective emotional, and then verbal, processing during the art of storytelling.
The studies showed that the Three overarching themes emerged as significant in describing the benefits of participation in storytelling: gaining a new sense of agency, regaining a sense of affiliation, and processing the trauma. The findings were illustrated and discussed within the context of narrative therapy, as is the potential of video-based therapy, especially regarding non-articulated, sensory traumatic memories, and for the process of (re)construction of the trauma narrative.
BLM as applied from Black Women to Black Men — Resistance from Black Women to Intracommunity Psychic Harm – April Grigsby
The Black Lives Matter movement (BLM) was distinct from the historical mass movements that resisted state sanctioned violence and structural racism in two ways. The founders of the BLM 501 (c) (3) centered queer and transgendered identities adding an intersectional lens that had never been present in the Civil Rights or Black Power Movement. Secondly, in the aftermath of the organized protests, Black women decried the media representation and the cost of participation as masculinizing Black women’s image, especially darker skinned Black women. Unlike previous generations, Black women are now en masse resisting psychic wounds perpetuated from within the community, such as colorism, as equally noxious as the external harm from white supremacy.
The challenge is against any person, Black or otherwise, who undermines the social location of Black women and the narratives that they use to do so. Most dominant among these rejected tropes are The Strong Black Woman (indefatigable and exhausted); The Mammy (disempowered and domesticated); Sapphire (angry and emasculating), and the hypersexual Jezebel, all of which remain relentlessly as present and noxious as Aunt Jemima’s makeover. These tropes are considered enduring legacies of trauma from previous Black generations who failed to resist or develop healthy coping mechanisms.
Black women have created “emancipated spaces” in the social media stratosphere where these tropes are actively dismantled and, in the process, introducing new tropes, such as the “Pick me,” or Black women considered treacherous for loyalty to “undeserving” Black men. The strategies for change are wildly diverse from fastidious attention to beauty and fashion, therapy, promoting interracial dating and economic self-sufficiency, ending colorism, forfeiting motherhood, and divestment from relationships to Black men and social justice causes. These emancipated spaces dare to move the litmus test from the macro identity of being Black to a mezzo level group vetting the Black male’s individual ethos towards Black women as either affirming or undeserving of Black women’s support.
Movement, Art, Math, and Religion — Dorothea Leicher
This workshop discussed recent changes in the understanding of brain function and their implications on our thinking and consciousness. It discusses the foundational role of movement and social interaction in our cognition, which also underpins our profoundly social nature and is reflected in our development of art and religion, which is considered a special case of art. Ways to rehabilitate the socially beneficial elements of religion to overcome death anxiety and foster direly needed social cooperation will be discussed.
Cyberpsychological Investigations of Social Media and Online Antisemitism — Julie Ancis
This presentation will provide an overview of the social media landscape as relates to conversations about Jews and antisemitic content and images (Hubscher & von Mering, 2022). Social media has resulted in the dissemination of information at an unprecedented rate and reach (Ancis, 2020). The spread of antisemitic messages on such platforms as Twitter (Jikeli, Cavar, & Miehling, 2019) and its relationship to contemporary, societal trends will be discussed. The presenter will describe how both implicit and explicit antisemitic social media messages manifest on social media today, including its potential impact on current attitudes and behavioral intentions.
Healing From Our Narcissistic, Child Abuse World & Importance of Psychohistory’s Future — John Paul Rice
Psychohistory is key to building a new foundation for humanity. Today’s forms of propaganda found in politics, media, and culture are leading to more extreme aspects of society. As a result, Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) will be embraced by many as an evolution of human consciousness – a dangerous precedent with a handful of global corporations and governments wielding A.I.’s power – and presented as a solution to keep billions safe from threats. By mapping narcissistic behaviors in childhood and modeling how they play out over time, scalable models can be built that predict various social, cultural, and political trajectories with potential outcomes. Building from the works of Jung, Fromm, Miller, McGilchrist and others, psychohistory’s application in both today and tomorrow’s world could lead to healing childhood traumas before they find a damaging collective ideology or cult to call home.
The Political Is Personal: Authoritarianism and Sadism Are Learned at Home — Jeffrey Rubin
In this presentation I will explore from a psychoanalytic perspective the political philosophy of Charles Koch, who runs Koch Industries, the second largest privately owned company in America and is at the ideological and economic center of a five-decades long clandestine campaign for “limited government” designed to dismantle the state and remake society in his own undemocratic image. Koch admitted his goal was to “tear government out ‘at the root’.” Koch and his cohorts in this stealth crusade against democracy have striven to drastically deregulate business and environmental protections, hold wages, disempower unions, pollute, dictate political issues, and curtail social services for the disadvantaged. I will attempt to demonstrate that Koch’s philosophy and his political agenda to dismantle the state emerge directly from his traumatic experience with devoted albeit absentee parents, an authoritarian and sadistic father, and a fervid Nazi-sympathizing nanny who touted Hitler’s virtues. Decimating the state made Charles feel as if he was no longer endangered or held hostage to the dictates of other people and that might give him a shot at the liberty he prized above all else and a life of his own. The emotional trauma of his upbring that he never faced or integrated he enacted upon the world. Those who are unaware of their past repeat it, as the Koch brothers tragically illustrate.
FROM THE ISSUES OF CULTURE, SOCIETY, SOCIAL JUSTICE, AND WOUNDED LEADERS — TO NEURO-PSYCHO-BIOLOGY, TRANSGENERATIONAL PATTERNS OF PARENTHOOD — TO UKRAINE WAR, IDEOLOGY, AND MILITARY SPENDING:
PRESENTATIONS and PANELS ON DAY 2 OF THE CONFERENCE,
on FRIDAY, MAY 19TH, 2023
On Day 2 of the Conference, in Breakout Room 1, there will be presentations by the NYU Graduate School of Social Work students, facilitated by their professor Denis O’Keefe, who dedicated many years to IPhA. These presentations by students will cover various psychohistorical topics at the intersection of culture, society, social justice, health, and wellness, as well as clinical practice, traditional and alternative:
Deconstructing, De-alienating, Liberating with Integrative, Critical Approaches to Wellness – Denis O’Keefe
No one told us it wasn’t supposed to hurt: Using standpoint theory to inform, listen and respond to Black women’s pain in the medical/health care system – Betty Voltaire
A critical analysis of Western, Neo-Liberal approaches to substance abuse and alternative Eastern approaches. Deena Patel
Other presenters and panelists will include (in the order of appearance): Inna Rozentsvit; Nick Duffell; Krystyna Sanderson, Marc-Andre Cotton, & Inna Rozentsvit (panel organized by the Parenting and on Transgenerational Trauma & Resilience IPhA Working Groups); Brian D’agostino; Sabeeha Rehman; Jun Lu; Paul Elovitz; C. Fred Alford, David J. Fisher, Daniel Rancour-Laferriere, & William M. Runyan (the Lifetime Achievement in Psychohistory Awardees); Marshall Alcorn, Paul Elovitz, William Nye; & James W. Anderson (the Lifetime Achievement in Psychohistory Advocates); and Susan Kavaler-Adler.
Below are the short summaries of all other presentations and panels planned for Friday (in the sequence of their appearance on the schedule, while the short biographies of the presenters are available online at http:https://psychohistory.us/ipha-2023/).
What on Earth Is Going On? NeuroPsychoBiology Lens for Psychohistorical Explorations — Inna Rozentsvit
This presentation will touch upon the realities of our modern life, taken over by Fear Contagion – fear of The Virus, fear of loss (of work, of loved ones, of health, of love, of life), fear of exclusion (from the multiple echo chamber groups), fear of living. When one is subjected to this amount of massive fear pressure, he/she tends to exercise the Reptilian Brain processing, if to utilize Paul MacLean’s Triune Brain (evolutionary) model. MacLean’s Triune Brain was/is a brilliant invention: when complementing the basic neurobiology phenomena and concepts (of neuroplasticity, neurointegration, connectomes, fire together-wire together) – it becomes a useful tool for any researcher, and especially to any psychohistorian, in finding explanations to this frequent question: What on Earth Is Going Wrong?
Wounded Leader Britain and America in the Age of Disconnect — Nick Duffell
The late poet Robert Bly said that ‘the US has achieved the first consistent culture of denial in the modern world.’ Britain, however, is a consistent culture of dissociation. Brits could not conduct their politics like Americans; instead, they just don’t speak about things: no one even speaks the word Brexit anymore. From the time they are seven, the British elite are trained in dissociation, compartmentalization, and projection in prestigious boarding schools, which, incidentally, pay no taxes. A thirty-five-year specialist study has revealed how this learned dislocation has had global consequences, including becoming the engine for modernism, whereby the planet and indigenous peoples could be ruthlessly exploited with our any qualms of conscious: hence our present state of calamity.
Transgenerational Patterns of Parenthood and Their Effect on the Individual and Societal History — Krystyna Sanderson, Marc-Andre Cotton, Inna Rozentsvit
This panel represents collaborative work done by the members of the two IPhA’s working groups — on Parenting and on Transgenerational Trauma & Resilience: Krystyna Sanderson, Marc-Andre Cotton, and Inna Rozentsvit. In her part, entitled “From Parenting to Parenthood,” Inna Rozentsvit will discuss the need for a paradigm shift, from parenting (advice and strategies) — to looking into parenthood experiences first. In Krystyna Sanderson’s presentation entitled “Seeing my Polish Childhood through my Mother’s Eyes,” she will discuss her childhood as seen through her mother’s eyes and will explore the role of epigenetics in the transgenerational transmission of elements of her mother’s trauma to her. Mac-Andre Cotton will conclude the panel with his presentation on “Putin’s Russia and Transgenerational Delegation of Trauma,” in which he will discuss how the group conflicts are embedded in existing family dynamics, because as much as we form our primary identity within the family circle as children, we tend to re-create family problematics on the social sphere by restaging our earliest imprints as adults.
Ukraine, Ideology, and Military Spending: Rethinking International Security — Brian D’Agostino
While literal fighting and killing has raged in Ukraine since Russia’s 24 February 2022 invasion, another kind of war is being waged in a parallel universe of ideas. This paper provides an overview of the Russian and “Western” ideologies that perpetuate the war. I then “reality test” competing explanations for the causes and continuation of the conflict using data on Russian and US/NATO military spending. The article concludes with a pathway to demilitarization and common security.
An American Woman in Saudi Arabia — Sabeeha Rehman
My presentation is about my observations of Saudi culture while living and working at a hospital in Riyadh. It is a place where my husband and I went on a two-year contract and ended up staying for six years. I will share episodes which will likely dismantle some of the misconceptions about Saudi women; the culture shock I experienced and the ease with which I and many of the expats adapted to what is perceived to be a restrictive lifestyle. I will share my observations about a woman’s place in the corporate culture and the contradictions in the lifestyle. Offered an influential position at the hospital, I had to seek my husband’s permission to work. Imagine my shock when hanging out in a lingerie store, I am approached by a salesman, or my fear in encountering the morality police, my surprise at discovering the freedom in the abaya, and my confusion in learning that Bedouin women were driving in the desert when city women could not. I share the experience of being there when the towers fell on 9/11, the impact of the invasion of Iraq, the passing of King Fahd in the hospital I worked in, and I take the listeners on a spiritual journey of the hajj. In closing, I will draw attention to how much has not changed: that despite recent edicts to relax some of the rules, tradition endures.
Do Not Say We Have Nothing: The Haunting Legacies of the Cultural Revolution in China — Jun Lu
As the third generation of the Cultural Revolution, Jun Lu, a PhD candidate from Canada, will talk about the impacts on her life brought by the difficult histories of her grandparents. With help from her analyst and supervisor in the past six years, she walked through the emotional situations and started to understand her parents, grandparents, and the social-historical environment. Her research then turned to understanding of historical actors in their time, such as the controversial political leader Mao Zedong in China. Jun Lu’s presentation will focus on the following points: 1) why the Cultural Revolution needs to be reviewed through the lens of transgenerational transmission of trauma; 2) what kinds of research have been done so far; 3) which questions remain to be answered; 4) how the study on the Cultural Revolution may contribute to the trauma theory and transgenerational transmission of trauma.
Doing Psychohistory: Insights for those Writing Psychohistory from a Veteran Colleague Who Has Been Teaching/Doing it for 50 Years — Paul Elovitz
In writing what is tentatively viewed as an introduction to or handbook of psychohistory, “Doing Psychohistory,” I will focus on topics such as my psychohistorical vision, listening to the unconscious and other evidence, methodology, childhood, and its role, following the emotion, political psychology, psychohistorical training, psychobiography, dreamwork, and teaching psychohistory/ psychobiography. I will mostly use a case study approach.
Makers of Psychohistory: Third Psychohistory Forum’s Lifetime Achievement Awards Ceremony.
Panelists and Awardees: C. Fred Alford; David J. Fisher; William M. Runyan, Daniel Rancour-Laferriere; Marshall Alcorn; William Nye; Jim Anderson; & Paul Elovitz.
A short article [#4] about this event will follow.
How Susan Kavaler-Adler’s Theory of Developmental Mourning Can Help Heal a Polarized World — Susan Kavaler-Adler (presenter) and Ken Fuchsman (discussant)
“Developmental Mourning” is a clinical theory about how split, dissociated, and polarized parts of the Self can be healed, through a natural developmental process of mourning, which extends the feeling process of mourning beyond that of a concrete bereavement. In my IPA paper [for Friday May 19th] I will extend this clinical theory to societal and psychohistorical perspectives. When John Kennedy Junior died in a plane accident I spoke as one of four Mourning process experts on the Jessie Jackson T.V. show, “Both Sides.” I made the point that mourning often involves the willingness to tolerate and symbolically process one’s own aggression and rage, as well as to tolerate the painful feelings of grief sadness due to object loss. This point is critical for clinical work, but it also becomes profoundly applicable to the polarized sociological splits in our country, society, and in the full global world.
4. THIRD LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS
FOR EXTRAORDINARY ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN PSYCHOHISTORY
PRESENTED BY PSYCHOHISTORY FORUM ON MAY 19TH, 2023
By Inna Rozentsvit and Paul Elovitz
This will be the 3rd Lifetime Achievement Awards in Psychohistory Ceremony established by The Psychohistory Forum. This special meeting will be conducted during the International Psychohistorical Association’s Annual Conference (on Friday, May 19th, 2023; 2:05 pm – 4:10 pm EDT) rather than following our traditional format. This 2-hour meeting will be dedicated to honoring the following awardees:
David J. Fisher;
and William M. Runyan.
Each recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award in Psychohistory will be presented/advocated by their colleague: Marshall Alcorn for C. Fred Alford; William Nye for David J. Fisher; Paul Elovitz for Daniel Rancour-Laferriere, and Jim Anderson for William M. Runyan (in alphabetical order), and then, each will respond/reflect on what was said by their colleagues or on the occasion in general. During this May 19th, 2023, meeting, we will also watch a short montage of the previous (1-14-23 and 3-18-23) award ceremonies. At the end, there will be a room for general discussion.
Here are a few words about our 5-19-23 Lifetime Achievement Awardees:
Fred Alford is an Emeritus Professor of Government and Distinguished Scholar-Teacher at the University of Maryland. His numerous books include Psychology and the Natural Law of Reparation (2000), Rethinking Freedom: Why Freedom Has Lost Its Meaning, and What Can Be Done to Save It (2005), Levinas, Psychoanalysis, and the Frankfurt School (2002), What Evil Means to Us (1997), and Think No Evil: Korean Values in the Age of Globalization (1999).
He is the recipient of numerous awards, has been a driving force at the ISPP (International Society for Political Psychology) and is on the Editorial Board of Clio’s Psyche. Traumatology is a major interest of Dr. Alford.
David James Fisher is an intellectual historian and psychohistorian who has published Bettelheim: Living and Dying (2008), Romain Rolland and the Politics of Intellectual Engagement (1988, 2004), and Cultural Theory and Psychoanalytic Tradition (1991, 2009). His numerous articles and book chapters are on contemporary French cultural history and the history of psychoanalysis, including essays on Freud, Lacan, Foucault, Sartre, Fenichel, Spielrein, Stoller, and much else. He sometimes teaches in North America and in China, but mostly he practices psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapy in Los Angeles.
Daniel Rancour-Laferriere is a psychoanalytic scholar of Russia and religion who is Emeritus Professor of Russian at the University of California (UC), Davis. Among his many books are Signs of the Flesh: An Essay on the Evolution of Hominid Sexuality (1985); The Mind of Stalin: A Psychoanalytic Study (1988); Tolstoy on the Couch: Misogyny, Masochism, and the Absent Mother (1998); Russian Nationalism from an Interdisciplinary Perspective (2000); The Joy of All Who Sorrow: Icons of the Mother of God in Russia (2005); Tolstoy’s Quest for God (2007), and The Sign of the Cross: From Golgotha to Genocide (2011). Interestingly, he is the eldest of thirteen children.
William McKinley “Mac” Runyan is Emeritus Professor, School of Social Welfare at the University of California, Berkeley. Despite major opposition from major professors opposed to his study of lives, he earned his PhD in Clinical Psychology and Public Practice from Harvard University in 1975. His books include the pathbreaking Life Histories and Psychobiography: Explorations in Theory and Method (1982) and the edited Psychology and Historical Interpretation (1988). Membership in the Society for Personology is an important part of his intellectual life. His Clio’s Psyche Festschrift will appear in the fall 2023 issue of Clio’s Psycheis an important part of his intellectual life. His Clio’s Psyche Festschrift will appear in the fall 2023 issue of Clio’s Psyche.
For more information about this session, visit https://psychohistoryforum.com/lifetime-achievement-awards-for-extraordinary-accomplishments-in-psychohistory-presented-by-psychohistory-forum-may-19-2023/
Some history of the Lifetime Achievement Awards in Psychohistory that were established by psychohistory Forum in 2023:
On January 14, 2023, our first awardees were Peter J. Loewenberg, Robert Jay Lifton, David R. Beisel, and Alan C. Elms (see more information here: https://psychohistoryforum.com/first-ever-lifetime-achievement-award-ceremony-in-psychohistory/).
And on March 18th, 2023, the following colleagues were the awardees who participated in this live ceremony: Lawrence J. Friedman, Howard F. Stein, and Jacques Szaluta. In absentia awards were presented then to Daniel Dervin and Herbert Barry III (check the following webpage for more information about this meeting: https://psychohistoryforum.com/lifetime-achievement-awards-for-extraordinary-accomplishments-in-psychohistory-presented-by-psychohistory-forum/).
5. REPORT ON THE CONFERENCE
FOR SUSAN KAVALER-ADLER’S NEW BOOK ON DEVELOPMENTAL MOURNING
The long-awaited first volume of Dr. Susan Kavaler-Adler’s selected papers, Developmental Mourning, Erotic Transference, and Object Relations Analysis, has been published by International Psychoanalytic Books. To mark the occasion, a virtual conference was held on March 11, 2023. The author spoke, and there were examinations of her book by Loray Daws, Jeffrey Rubin, Ken Fuchsman, and Stephanie Teitelbaum. This is a report on that event and is also an announcement that Dr. Kavaler-Adler will be presenting a paper on Friday, May 19th at the annual psychohistory conference. For more information, go to psychohistory.us (and click on the Conference page or go directly to schedules/registration page at http:https://psychohistory.us/ipha-2023/.
Dr. Kavaler-Adler is the co-founder and Director of the Object Relations Institute of New York City. She has published five previous books on psychoanalysis during her career. This work of her selected papers elaborates on her central themes. In her talk on March 11th, Dr. Kavaler-Adler finds that “Developmental Mourning involves the self-integration of split off parts.” This view is derived in part from the work of Melanie Klein and the American school of Objects Relations on separation and individuation. These perspectives were developed by among others, Margaret Mahler. James Masterson, and Althea Horner. Kavaler-Adler sees a healing and self-integration process proceeding through “separation-individuation, and” where “proto-symbolism evolves to symbolism, beta to alpha, paranoid-schizoid position to depressive position and on the way to ego functions evolving with mourning, as well as object constancy and self-subjectivity.” The result can be that “self-integration takes place through a holding environment that allows the patient to tolerate the painful rage, depression, grief affects of the separation-individuation process.”
Another feature of this volume is the subject of erotic transference. Kavaler-Adler remarks that her perspective on this subject contrasts with that of the classical, relational, and self- psychological views. As a female analyst, she describes a case with a male client. To her, this man developed “a powerful oedipal erotic transference.” The way the treatment proceeded revealed that “the transferential erotic desire” toward the therapist showed “a profound evolution of romantic and sexual passions in dreams, and sessions, I became a transitional erotic object. If I had seen this evolving erotic transference as a defensive eroticization, as it can often be seen in classical theory, my patient could not have gotten to mourn his oedipal object, and open to passion.” It is then the combination of the object relations developmental mourning process that enabled the client to make breakthroughs.
In general, Kavaler-Adler sees a developmental mourning process including regret and grief, guilt, and loss. The transformation takes place through the grief evolving at different developmental levels. Regret leads back to primal love.
Next, Dr. Loray Daws spoke. He is a registered Clinical Psychologist practicing currently in British Columbia and is a Senior Faculty Member at the International Masterson Institute in New York. His most recent book is Michael Eigen: A contemporary introduction (2023) published by Routledge.
He began by praising Dr. Kavaler-Adler’s works on female creative artists where she showed insight into mourning and creativity. Daws sees the parallel between Kavaler-Adler’s work with that of James Masterson on the place of mourning in character disorders. He sees Kavaler-Adler’s recent volume as an excellent compilation of her writings and is an insightful glimpse of the range of Dr. Kavaler-Adler’s interests. Her book critically evaluates the American and British Object Relations traditions. This is evident in her treatment of the process of developmental mourning.
Kavaler-Adler’s insights show the importance of true self-activation, creativity, spirituality, and creativity as the analysands work through the process of developmental mourning. She helps people to face and transform the many anti-libidinal forces in our psyche. Dr. Kavaler-Adler’s work, Dr. Daws states, serves as a beacon those with whom she connects.
I spoke next about creativity in Kavaler-Adler’s work, specifically in the creative writing groups she has led for many years. I am past President of the International Psychohistorical Association and Emeritus Faculty from the University of Connecticut. I have co-edited or authored three books with connection to psychoanalysis.
For Kavaler-Adler there are obstacles impeding someone’s creative sparks. Susan Kavaler-Adler writes of what she characterizes as the internal editor, which inhibits the writer’s thought process, and is a product of parental introjects that lead to shame and guilt.
Kavaler-Adler is very specific on what enables a person to reach their potential. She writes: “reparation of the self comes through mourning. Mourning is the essential affective process of self-integration that modifies the split-off parts of the self that serve as hostile parts of the internal editor.” She lists two ways this self-integration can happen. One is that the creative process itself can unleash the mourning and the other is that the process of mourning itself promotes creativity. The inner struggle between the self-censor and the creative self needs to produce “good-enough object internalization.” The writing group itself “helps its members develop this positive object internalization.”
Many people carry within themselves shame and guilt derived from their external life and internal processes. Psychic change and personal transformation occur through consciously experiencing a guilt that leads to what Kavaler-Adler calls psychic regret. The emergence of regret for past actions is a beginning point for the developmental mourning process. She says that we “are always haunted by our internal ghosts, which house our misdeeds toward others, as well as toward ourselves.” Our pain and grief within developmental mourning can turns towards a “love-endowed grief that connects us to the old internal world relationships.” It also allows us to let go of them and move on to more constructive relationships, internally and externally. Sadness and hate can become modified “into tolerable experiences of anger within loving relationships, and the pain of grief yields to love within loss and loss within love.” Such is the developmental mourning process to Kavaler-Adler.
Jeffrey Rubin was the next speaker. He practices psychoanalysis and psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapy. Dr. Rubin is the creator of Meditative Psychotherapy. This pioneering approach to integrating psychotherapy and Buddhism has been written about in the New York Times magazine. Among his books are Meditative psychotherapy: The marriage of East and West and The Art of flourishing: A new East-West approach to staying sane and finding love in an insane world.
Dr. Rubin focused on Chapter 17 of Dr. Kavaler-Adler’s new book, which is entitled “Fear of intimacy.” Dr. Rubin says about intimacy that we crave it, it enriches us and eludes us. It is one of nature’s most remarkable and baffling forces. It takes enormous strength, wisdom, and skill to understand and to navigate. Psychoanalysis illuminates various obstacles to intimacy. Dr. Kavaler-Adler with scrupulous attention and admirable clarity clearly summarizes various object relations conceptions of the obstacles to intimacy. She brings these approaches alive with her highly charged and interesting clinical vignettes. Through these activities we learn more about the makeshift solutions in the relationships conflicts humans are haunted by.
Jeffrey Rubin says we learn from Susan Kavaler-Adler about the developmental roots of the barriers to intimacy. All good psychoanalytic papers take one to new and unsuspected places. In this process I was left with two questions. Is the psychoanalytic language about obstacles to intimacy exhaust all possibilities and what can psychoanalysis illuminate about what nourishes and sustains intimacy as well as what interferes with it.
Rubin says that, in his experience, no one language about intimacy has it all, and all are needed. Might we speak about intimacy more intimately, in an experience near way. We can focus on the person’s experience rather than simply abstract from it to theoretically comprehend it. This need not be an either/or approach but could combine both. Love itself is characterized by grandeur and wretchedness. Only a view that embraces both sides can fully illuminate what love entails.
Psychoanalytic accounts of intimacy, Rubin finds, are often too grim and solemn, devoid of the joy and closes that love can engender. He is looking for the potential space where mutual love can flourish, and internal psychic space is expanded. This can lead to a wider repertoire of relatedness. As well, there can be carnal fusion in which the boundaries between the lovers are crossed and their identities seem merged. Part of the potential space also involves learning to work with difficulties.
The last of the respondents was Stefanie Teitelbaum. She is a graduate of National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis, and is a member, supervisor, training analyst, and on the faculty of National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis and the Object Relations Institute. She serves on the Advisory Board of the Psychoanalytic Review. She has been practicing psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapy in New York City since 1993. Her psychoanalytic papers have been published in The Psychoanalytic Review, Psychoanalytic Inquiry, and The American Journal of Psychoanalysis.
Stefanie Teitelbaum remembered that she first met Susan Kavaler-Adler when Stefanie presented at a conference, and when they talked then it was illuminating. In talking about one of Kavaler-Adler’s books, Stefanie mentions that the author states that intimacy involves tolerating our differences. She is honored to be here to recognize her colleague and friend.
We focus on regrets in psychoanalysis as they are parts of our mind, psyche, and body. Not surprisingly, Teitlebaum focuses on Chapter 18 in the new book, “Tolerable and intolerable regret: Clinical transformation of the intolerable into the tolerable.” This chapter discusses four case studies of women and their mothers. It begins with Dr. Kavaler Adler’s path from classical psychoanalysis to object relations. Through an object relations therapeutic approach, by the time clients get to the stage of regret, there has already been significant advances in the therapy. This level of toleration is part of the twisted, torturous elements within the psychoanalytic journey. Toleration creates the space for symbolic thinking. This can enable the capacity to go through a mourning process. Stefanie Teitelbaum shows how the conception of the transference in object relation adds a dimension not found in classical psychoanalysis. The object relations conception of transference that Kavaler-Adler brilliantly displays helps rebuild the here and now that creates a new object of satisfaction and the ability to mourn loss. The new object modifies the persecutory process that blocks symbolic thinking. Kavaler-Adler brings this process to life.
As well, it is important to recognize how Freud’s essay on “Mourning and Melancholia” opens the door to what would become the object relations approach. Melanie Klein, and now Susan Kavaler-Adler, have further enhanced the concept of mourning in psychoanalysis. This virtual conference showed the richness of Dr. Kavaler-Adler’s work, and various aspects of this work were elaborated upon by the panelists. For more information about the conference and the book, visit https://events.orinyc.org/book-celebration-virtual-party/.
For those wishing to hear more from Dr. Kavaler-Adler, I will mention again that she will be presenting on May 19th from 2 to 4 pm EDT at the virtual conference of the International Psychohistorical Association (please register at http:https://psychohistory.us/ipha-2023/).
FROM PSYCHOBIOGRAPHY TO THE MOTHER IMAGO
AND HEALING CHILDHOOD AND OTHER TRAUMA — TO SEX, SOCIETY AND RELATIONSHIPS — TO PSYCHOHISTORICAL POETRY, FAITH, AND PSYCHOLOGY:
PRESENTATIONS and PANELS ON DAY 3 OF THE CONFERENCE,
on SATURDAY, MAY 20th, 2023
The third plenary session at our 46th Annual Conference will be presented on May 20th by James W. Anderson, who will speak about Animosity, Affection, and Empathy: Elements in Psychobiographer’s Relationships with the People They Study. Other presenters and panelists will include (in the order of appearance): Martin Miller, Allan Mohl, Brigitte Demeure, Claude Barbre, Padmavathy Desai, IPhA’s Process (Working) Group (Rose Gupta, Gabriela Gusita, Claire Steinberger, & Inna Rozentsvit), Charlotte Schwartz, Howard stein, IPhA’s Faith, Psychology and Social Justice Working Group (Charles “Carlos” Gourgey, Marc- André Cotton, & Brian D’Agostino), Ken Fuchsman, Paul Elovitz, David Lotto, Inna Rozentsvit; Tulin Erinc; J. I. (Hans) Bakker. Below, find the abstracts for these presentations and panels.
Influence of Alice Miller’s Theories on Healing Work with the Child Abuse Survivors — Martin Miller
In this presentation, psychologist and childhood trauma specialist, Martin Miller, son of a famous psychologist, writer, and child advocate Alice Miller, will discuss his mother’s influence on the healing treatment approach he developed over the span of over four decades. Despite a very strained relationship with his mother, which Martin Miller tried to reconcile by writing a book about it, and then — by doing the documentary “Who’s Afraid of Alice Miller?” — he gives credit to his mother’s books and theories, as these gave him the key to unlock and better understand his parents’ behavior and his own traumatic experiences.
The Evolution of Anti-Semitism: Never Ending Bigotry from Antiquity to the Present — Allan Mohl
Please visit our previous Newsletters for entries on the topic of Anti-Semitism. Also, please visit #9 entry below.
The Mother Imago in French Political Life (1789-1914) and Its Effects on Social Links — Brigitte Demeure
From the French Revolution to WWI, the mother imago is central in most French political imaginaries. It belongs to the realm of “believing” or “making believe” with obvious effects on social links and knowledge, some of which still irrigate political life in France, or even some countries abroad (Brazil, Turkey…). The focus will be on the far-right movement Action Française, which appeared at the end of the XIX century, that could be considered one of the precursors of fascism.
The Denial of Climate Change as Terror Management: Ernest Becker, Death Anxiety, and the Future of Illusions — Claude Barbre
In his Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Denial of Death (1973), written fifty years ago, Ernest Becker argued that the whole of human society is at its core, a symbolic defense mechanism protecting us from the terrifying consciousness of our own temporality. Humans can transcend the problem of facing their own death through what Becker, following Otto Rank, calls “immortality projects,” or becoming a hero in a sense. By becoming something greater than themselves, humans can create meaning in their lives by believing that whatever they dedicate themselves to, will live on beyond their individual material lives (Liechty, 2022). For Becker a failure in a person’s immortality project, allows the terror of death to enter consciousness, resulting in the potential for disturbances or psychopathology. As Merlyn Mowrey notes, “According to Becker, illusions, which he also called vital lies, are the imaginative worldviews and belief systems we create to give us a meaningful context and explanation for our lives. Becker called them lies, not because they are dishonest in an ethical sense, but because they are humanly constructed, speculative, and fictional, confidently asserting an orderly coherence, context, and purpose to human life, thus calming doubt, and keeping ambiguity at bay” (Mowrey, 2022).
However, Becker also warned that the terror management of mutability awareness can also create difficult problems for humankind when immortality projects and their tandem ideologies are at odds with each other, and this can lead to driving forces for violence such as war and genocide. In this presentation we will explore how the denial of climate change and the reality of the Anthropocene epoch reflect the dangers of terror management when individuals and cultures construct ideologies that underscore illusions of absolute transcendence as strategies toward denying ecologies of life– be they constructs of other-worldly realms that alienate us from all that is immanent and natural, or the propagation of alternative defenses toward mutability awareness, resulting in the destruction of shared space and living environments.
With the denial of climate change, “those things associated with the world of nature become vulnerable to scapegoating because they are no longer worthy of our care or respect … degraded, subjugated, or even destroyed in the struggle to affirm the divine, contributing to environmental degradation and the intolerance of racism, sexism, and the disdain for the poor” (Mowrey, 2022).
We will see that Becker, uncovering the motivations behind human actions, and unveiling the denial of death, as evidenced in the denial of climate change and the Anthropocene, can result in clearer approaches to and management of life and death anxiety, furthering life-affirming resolutions.
A Psychobiography of G. W. F. Hegel: An Individual Consciousness Seeking to Know Itself — Padmavathy Desai
This presentation will look at the personal biography of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, one of the most influential philosophers of the 19th century. Most known for his grande oeuvre, The Phenomenology of Spirt, Hegel remains one of the most important thinkers in the German Idealist tradition whose body of work remains relevant even today. To learn about his personal history, I will draw on the biography by Hegel scholar Terry Pinkard and make inferences as to the psychodynamics that may have influenced Hegel’s system of philosophy. I will examine Hegel’s relationships with his parents, siblings, friends, and colleagues in the sociocultural milieu in which he lived.
As a post-Kantian thinker, Hegel viewed that both the individual and society have a teleological purposive destiny toward Absolute Knowledge that negates and builds on previous stages of development in a continuous process of becoming. Was Hegel’s comprehensive philosophy an attempt to make meaning and cope with persistent periods of depression, anxiety and feelings of helplessness that were constant companions throughout his life? This paper will attempt to understand the convergent influences in Hegel’s life and work through the work of Donald Winnicott’s facilitating environment and Andre Green’s the “dead mother.”
When Worlds Collide: The Intrapsychic and Interpersonal Dimensions of Trauma — Rose Gupta, Gabriela Gusita, Claire Steinberger, Inna Rozentsvit
This panel, comprised of an IPhA Process Group, informally named, “A Room of Our Own”, has come together to study the many manifestations of trauma including our shared, unique experiences. As we voice our personal resonance to trauma, our processing group allows for breaking the silence, finding words. witnessing and repair. For this presentation we will begin with Dr. Gupta who will present a clinical case of transgenerational trauma including immigration and relocation, familial dysfunction and intrapsychic collapse and recovery.
Panel members will discuss this case from our diverse theoretical perspectives including object relations, relational psychoanalysis, intersubjectivity, neuropsychobiology, Freudian and sociology-cultural models. This will be followed by Drs. Gusita, Steinberger, Rozentsvit each discussing their clinical cases and experiences that will illustrate each clinician’s individual theoretical perspective in order to further our understanding of the complexity of trauma.
“Sex, Society, and Relationships” and “The Mythology Surrounding Freud and Klein” — Charlotte Schwartz
In this session, I revisit two of my books in connection with themes of this conference. Sex, Society and Relationships: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (2019, IPBooks) examines sexual behavior, especially monogamy and adultery, from historical, psychological, biological, and sociological perspectives. The twenty-first century is a period of unbridled sexuality but also of destabilized culture, personal relationships, and child rearing. This book aims to learn from the human past to better understand our present.
The Mythology Surrounding Freud and Klein: Implications for Psychoanalysis (2017, Roman and Littlefield) challenges current misperceptions and theoretical ideas surrounding Sigmund Freud and Melanie Klein through a systematic review of their respective theoretical work and clinical studies. I argue against the current perception that Klein originated object relations theory and that Freud’s metapsychology was a drive-centered theory with little regard for the object and object relations. The book further examines the development of drive and object relations theory through a review of key thinkers who influenced psychoanalytic training and treatment methodology in this area, including Ferenczi, Abraham, Jones, Fairbairn, Guntrip, and Winnicott.
Some Contributions of Applied Psychohistorical Poetry to Imagining and Understanding a World at the Edge — Howard Stein
What happens when catastrophic world destruction fantasies, long associated with individuals afflicted with schizophrenia, and tribes or nations experiencing devastating identity loss, becomes possible if not likely for the entire human species if not for most life on earth? One way that psychohistorians can grapple with this unimaginable-become-imaginable reality is through applied poetry. The presenter will read, discuss, and facilitate discussion of poetry, most of which is his own, that attempts to enter and immerse both poet and reader/listener in a world you cannot make up; and to help make sense (interpretation, explanation) of that lived experience.
Multi-Disciplinary Perspectives on 21st Century Christianity — IPhA’s Faith, Psychology and Social Justice Working Group
This panel will examine how Christianity was transformed over the centuries from a variant of prophetic Judaism into its dominant form today as an otherworldly belief system; how its Protestant Evangelical variant in the United States functions as a state religion; and how movements of authentic spiritual renewal can create a different future for this major world religion that is more consistent with the healing and transformative vision of its founder.
What Does It Mean To Be Human?: A Paper and A Panel — Ken Fuchsman, Paul Elovitz, David Lotto, Inna Rozentsvit
What does it mean to be human? This is one of the most fundamental and complex questions known to our species. It cannot be adequately addressed without focusing on history and psychology, and about 20 other disciplines. Homo sapiens have a remarkable history. We have gone from bows and arrows to nuclear weapons, from local hunting and gathering to global farming, from not speaking to language and literacy, from hand signals to smart phones. Our contradictory character is integral to our creative accomplishments and our dire desires. This astounding history and our unusual psyche are indispensable in addressing being human. This paper and panel revisits being human from interdisciplinary and psychohistorical angles. Ken Fuchsman gives his account of what is necessary to consider in addressing what being human means. His analysis will be commented on by historian/ psychoanalyst/ psychobiographer Paul Elovitz, psychoanalyst and editor David Lotto, and physician/neuroscientist Inna Rozentsvit.
How Is Psychology Used in History? (And the Different Appropriations of Psychohistory by Psychologists and Historians) — Tulin Erinc
Psychohistory is a theory that is perceived and used in different ways by psychologists and historians. In this presentation, what psychohistory means for the two fields and how it is used, what are the common points and differences will be examined. In addition, the types of use of psychology in historiography will be evaluated through examples from Ottoman/ Turkish History. Methods such as psychobiography, memory processes, and application of psychoanalysis to history will also be discussed.
Putin and Xi as Patrimonial Rulers: Ancient Traditions Trump Marxism — J. I. (Hans) Bakker
Please see a description of this presentation after this entry.
7. THE MATERNAL IMAGO IN FRENCH POLITICAL LIFE (1789-1914):
INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR,
by Ken Fuchsman
Ken Fuchsman (KF): You will be making a presentation on your book The Maternal Imago in French Political Life (1789-1914) at the annual psychohistory conference on Saturday May 20th. The book will be published in French by the University of Avignon Press on May 25th. Why did you choose this subject ?
Brigitte Demeure (BD): During exchanges with an analyst I was close to, it appeared that the maternal imago seemed to play an important role in collective representations and imaginary in politics, and I wanted to deepen my reflection on this subject.
KF: What in French political and cultural life led you to see the importance of this subject?
BD: I chose France to study this subject, whose history in this respect is very rich. Let us recall that Louis XIII had consecrated the kingdom of France to Virgin Mary in 1638, and that France is considered as the eldest daughter of the Church. From the French Revolution onwards, the maternal figures multiply in political discourses (the Fatherland, the Nation, Nature, Liberty, Equality, the Republic, the heavenly Jerusalem, Marianne, the Mother of the Saint-Simonians, the positivist Humanity…) Each time, they are part of a narrative that shows a certain representation of the society, from which normative and practical effects derive, since the members of society have a place and a role to play in this narrative.
KF: What is your approach to this subject?
BD: The concept of maternal imago in politics did not seem to me to be usable as such in the field of historical research. I therefore decided to study a historical reality that mediates with this concept, namely allegories and metaphors, which are very similar rhetorical figures. Very often used in political discourses, metaphors assume different discursive functions: aesthetic, cognitive and persuasive, mainly, but also heuristic. According to the linguist Claudine Normand, metaphor is subject to “the very law of the functioning of language insofar as desire always emerges”. For the historian Robert Descimon, metaphor would have on political discourses fictive and narrative effects that have no other consequences than internal to the fiction, but that allow its symmetrical and logical arrangement – and practical effects legitimizing certain forms of the exercise of power. This mixture of fictional effects and practical effects ensures at the same time the deployment of legal thought and the legitimization of political power.
I also take into account historian of the law and psychoanalyst Pierre Legendre’s works, who reminds us that in the West legal productions, and therefore institutions, are founded on the fiction of a “monumental Subject”, which “is a real Subject”, although it is the work of culture. These sovereign authorities ask for submission from the genealogical position: individuals are thus subjected to their personal genealogy, but also to a second, collective genealogy, they are the children “of the mother – or fatherland”, or of “Liberty”, of the Church, etc… It is from this second genealogy that the power asks to be loved and obeyed.
KF: You pinpoint the discrepancy between the elevated image of the mother and the fate of French women in this period. How to account for this gap?
BD: Historian Yannick Ripa reminds that French women saw their status deteriorate from the end of the 18th century with the concomitant affirmation of the “mental inferiority” of women. Historian Eliane Viennot, also affirms that men did not stop reinforcing their privileges during the Revolution and the Empire. Albert Soboul also recalls that the « sans-culottes », even if they occasionally had a more liberal attitude, believed, like the Jacobins, that women should be relegated to the narrow sphere of their households. On the other hand, the representations of ideal maternal figures abound in the political discourses of men, this is the theme of my research.
KF: In the era of the French Revolution, regeneration and Nature were central motifs. The August 10, 1793 Revolutionary Festival describes how the mother figure of Nature was presented. How do you interpret this imagery ?
BD: First, the scene must be described precisely. It was the painter Jacques-Louis David who created the festival. He organized it along stations and the first one was dedicated to the veneration of Nature. It took place on the site of the Bastille. Here is how the project was presented: “In the middle of its rubble, we will see the fountain of Regeneration, represented by Nature. From her fertile breasts, which she will squeeze with her hands, pure and salutary water will gush out abundantly, from which 86 envoys of the primary assemblies will drink in turn, (…); the oldest of age will have preference; one same cup will serve for all.” In another description of the festival, the colossal statue of Nature represented by an Egyptian goddess, Hathor or Isis, the goddess of love, beauty, music, joy and motherhood, wears an inscription: “We are all her children”. This metaphor deploys here a social effect of meaning, it refers to the natural rights and to their horizon of universality, but also to a common origin which must allow the regeneration of the humankind by evacuating any reference to history and by abolishing the society of orders. How to interpret such a scene?
Throughout the Revolution, there are almost no paternal representations, but mostly maternal representations associated with those of the “brothers.” The historical context may partly explain this phenomenon. As historian Lynn Hunt notes, there was an erosion of the paternal role in the eighteenth century. From the psychoanalytic point of view, S. Freud’s classic work “Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, ” published in 1921, describes the masses as being structured by the identification of the brothers with the leader as the common ego ideal. However, maternal representations are not analyzed by Freud in this context.
To interpret this scene, I refer to the psychoanalytical theories elaborated by the French psychoanalysts Didier Anzieu and René Kaës. They drew on decades of therapeutic and institutional work with groups to develop their own theories regarding group processes. According to Anzieu, in certain groups reigns in what he calls the “group illusion” where the ideal Ego of the group is over-invested. The illusion prevalent in these groups comes from the substitution of the ideal Ego of each, to a common ideal Ego. It seeks to achieve fusion with the breast, source of all pleasures, and the introjective restoration of this first – partial – object of lost love. The group becomes, for the members, the substitute for this lost object. For psychoanalyst Daniel Lagache, the ideal ego, contrary to the ego ideal which connotes the expectations of internalized moral authority, corresponds to a narcissistic ideal of omnipotence. It includes a primary identification with another being, invested with omnipotence, that is, with the mother. The group illusion based on identification with the ideal ego has other consequences. This would have, according to Daniel Lagache, sadomasochist implications, in particular the negation of the other correlative to self-assertion. Indeed, after this festival of unity of August 10, 1793, and from mid-September 1793, the expression “terror on the agenda” gradually circulates throughout the country. On 14 September 1793, Jacques-Louis David, who organized the festival, became a member of the General Security Committee and president of the interrogation section. As such, he signed, with his colleagues, the arrest warrants that sent the suspects to the Revolutionary Tribunal, and most often to the scaffold.
KF: Napoleon I celebrated the motherland yet the 1804 Napoleonic Code has been characterized as having women annulled, consumed. You describe these elevations of the images of motherhood while females are subordinated as a weapon of political propaganda. What made this use of motherhood in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic eras such effective political propaganda?
BD: Napoleon presented himself as a son of Nature and wrote in 1791 that “man was born to be happy. Nature, an enlightened mother, endowed him with all the organs necessary for the purpose of his creation.” In his writings, in a conventional way at the time, he also became a son and supporter of the Republic. This maternal allegory gave way to that of the motherland which became the main object of his affection and care. It is the feeling, “which unites the son to the mother, the citizen to the motherland”. Son of the motherland, Napoleon was also a son of the Nation, and as the emperor, he became the first son and first lieutenant of the catholic Church. He presented himself as especially close to Mary, the mother of Christ; since he was born on August 15, the day of the Assumption. Between 1806 and 1813, the First Empire made August 15 a national holiday. He also associated himself with the Greek Goddess of agriculture Ceres, with the Egyptian Isis and added to his Pantheon another ancient goddess, that of Cybele. Presenting himself as the first son of all these maternal entities allowed him to embody the myth, legitimizing his power and his word. His speech is organized around arche texts that are absolute authorities. Pierre Legendre writes that Napoléon thus became the “Mediator holding the place of Truth”, a kind of omniscient pontiff. He condensed in his person all the superlatives of the best son of all the allegories and maternal metaphors of the time in France and seemed to fuse ideal ego and ego ideal representations. Caught in his hybris, the Emperor then came up against a European coalition that resulted in the fall of the great Nation and all the revolutionary work, leading to the Restoration of the monarchy.
KF: French philosopher Auguste Comte propounded a positivist religion of humanity and originated sociology as a discipline. Yet his image of and relationships with women were perplexing. Discuss how his image of and relationship to women was problematic.
BD: It is difficult to understand the positivist philosophy, its religion, and its cult of the Virgin-Mother without considering the history of Auguste Comte’s relations with women. Indeed, there were three women whom Auguste Comte revered: his mother, but also Clotilde de Vaux, whom he met in 1844 and whom he fell madly in love with. Their relationship remained platonic and lasted only one year, since the young woman was swept away by tuberculosis in 1845. This love and this “unparalleled year” marked a break both in the personal life and in the evolution of Comte’s thought. It was after her death that he decided to extend the positive philosophy in a new religion of humanity. He also worshipped his servant Sophie Thomas and declared her as his adopted daughter. To these ideal experiences, Comte opposed his relationship with his wife Caroline Massin, who claimed to be a washerwoman, but who sometimes practiced prostitution to make up for the financial difficulties of the household. Their common life evolved disastrously. The feminine ideal in the ternary form of mother, woman and daughter is thus averse to the representation of the “unworthy” wife.
This corresponds to his split representation of Humanity, which is depicted by a young woman holding a child in her arms. But let us remember that not all humans are part of it, only those who are deemed worthy, as well as some animals. During the episode of the Revolution mentioned above, it was inscribed under the statue of Nature depicted by the Egyptian goddess Isis that “we are all her children.” This was an inclusive representation, aiming at the universality of natural rights for all humans, unlike Comte’s Humanity. This aspect of the positivist religion of Humanity was taken up and transformed by the French far right, which replaced the goddess of humanity with the goddess France, with its division between the “worthy” French and the “parasites”. We know how much the Jews were considered parasites by these political movements, which proved to be very permeable to Nazism a few decades later.
KF: Utopian aspirations were prominent in Western culture in the mid-19th century. In France, one example is Etienne Cabet’s novel Travels in Icaria. How does ideology and psychoanalysis help us understand this novel and the utopian trend?
BD: The important role played by the mother imago in Cabet’s utopia can also be explained by the notion of “group illusion” as explained by French psychoanalyst Didier Anzieu. He believes that human subjects go into groups the same way they enter into dreams in their sleep. According to Anzieu, the group is a dream. The imaginary realization of dreamed desire is a group imagined as a fabulous place —a utopia — where all desires would be satisfied. It is the dream of a society exclusively governed by the pleasure principle, of a collective life where the primary processes would act in pure state. Anzieu observes in groups and dreams the same regressions, including the chronological regression to primary narcissism, and also the structural regression: the ego and the superego lose in favor of the id and the ideal ego. But these illusions may also become a protective regression, a transition to the inner unconscious reality or to the external social reality. These utopian creations can therefore also be situated on either side of creativity and play space— the transitional space described by D. Winnicott.
KF: Your book ends in 1914. Now in 2023 do you still see in France the maternal image being used as a weapon of political propaganda? If so, how? If not so much, why?
BD: The First World War exploded these ideal maternal representations, and in particular the positivist scientist optimism of the liberal Republicans. However, to the extent that these political imaginaries were part of a discourse, a narrative, they fictitiously circumscribed norms, and legitimized values that irrigated institutions and had obvious consequences on the social bond, on the French social system and its “social security”, to which so many French people are attached. The closed nationalism of the extreme right (unlike the nationalism oriented towards the universality of human rights of the revolutionary era) still refers today to the maternal France of the theoreticians of the late nineteenth century, Maurice Barrès and Charles Maurras.
KF: What makes your book Psychohistorical? What is the value you see in psychohistory?
BD: My explicit and privileged research framework is that of historical research, but “the phantom or complementary framework” — to use the felicitous expression coined by French psychoanalyst René Kaës – is psychoanalysis. Indeed, so Kaës, it is not without interest, that something does not find its place and yet appears. I am also very careful not to practice “wild analysis”, which means that I only make a psychoanalytical interpretation when it seems relevant. Another pitfall of psychohistory is that of simplification because historical facts are always overdetermined. I am interested in understanding the emotions, feelings, and beliefs that animate political and societal life and I refer to Heinz Kohut, for whom psychohistory must look at the formation and evolution of human groups:
The task is to apply psychoanalytic knowledge to the investigation of group psychology with the specific aim of contributing to the explanation of historical events. (…) If the study of historical sequences is to be pursued successfully, however, it will have to be coordinated with a number of basic investigations of the social field. What I have in mind here is the psychoanalytic study of (more or less large) groups: their formation, cohesion, fragmentation ; or, stated in more specific terms, the circumstances that favor their formation, the nature of the psychological cement that holds them together, the psychological conditions under which they begin to manifest regressive behavior and begin to crumble, etc….» (Kohut, 1985, p. 206)
You remind in your article ‘Psychohistory: Definitions and Standards,’ published in the Journal of Psychohistory, that according to Northwestern University historian Sarah Maza: “attempts to ignore, distort, or erase the past can have catastrophic effects for societies” (Maza, 2017, p. 7) and that according to philosopher George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” (Santayana, 1998, p. 82). Thus, in my opinion, psychohistory is a very important contribution to a better understanding of historical phenomena and of what drives human beings, in order to try not to repeat the mistakes of the past and to create a better future for everyone.
KF: Again, your presentation of this book is Saturday, May 20 at 9:00 am New York time?
To register, go to 1691679749-3360cc7935c5f250.wp-transfer.sgvps.net.
How can French readers acquire your book?
BD: Amazon or any other on-line platforms, from May 25th.
KF: What do you recommend for those who speak English, but not French, to become familiar with your scholarship?
BD: I have published different articles in the Journal of Psychohistory and Clio’s Psyche which are related to this research subject; they are:
- From the French Revolution to Napoleon I: the New Figures of the Propaganda of the French State; Journal of Psychohistory, 50 (1), Summer 2022;
- Construction of Post-Revolutionary Utopias in 19th Century France; The Journal of Psychohistory, 47(4), 312-324, Spring 2020;
- Auguste Comte coined the word Altruism: The cornerstone of the positivist political system; Clio’s Psyche, 26(3), pp. 281-286; Special Issue “The Psychology of Caregiving and Receiving,” 2020
- Éric Zemmour, Trump’s French Twin? (this article relates to the French far right and its history) will be published in the Journal of Psychohistory this summer.
A presentation of the book in French by the Editions Universitaires d’Avignon is here:
8. BEING HUMAN: AN INTERVIEW WITH KEN FUCHSMAN
by Inna Rozentsvit
Q: What is your May 20thpaper at the psychohistory conference on What Does It Mean to Be Human all about? What are you trying to accomplish?
Ken: I want to do justice to the astounding story of being human. Life on this planet is over 3 billion years old, Homo sapiens have been around for 300,000 years. For over 95% of that time, we were hunters and gatherers. We learned to speak about 70,000 years ago, developed agriculture and domesticating animals 12,000 years ago, and it is only in the last 5,000 that we could read and write. Just 300 years ago the Industrial Revolution began and is still ongoing. Our innovations have transformed earthly life for ourselves and others. Our continuing creativity is extraordinary.
Yet we are also one of the few mammals that practices war. We murder each other at higher rates than most mammals, plus we are prone to suicide and genocide. Our destructiveness towards other beings and our own kind is extraordinary. New Yorker writer Naomi Bliven wonders why we have not cherished our own species. The human character is inventive, contradictory, self-affirming, and self-divided. Trying to tell the human story in all its complexity is a major challenge. On Saturday, May 20th, I will present part of the introductory chapter to my ongoing Being Human research and will have Paul Elovitz, David Lotto, and Inna Rozentsvit comment and critique my paper, and hopefully help me make it better.
Q: At the beginning of your paper, you say humans have gone from stone tools to smart phones, from speculation to science, from illiteracy to Shakespeare, from bows and arrows to Hiroshima? Why do you initially frame your study in such a fashion?
Ken: The reason for starting this way is, on one hand, to give a glimpse of the remarkable scope of how our species has evolved. Over time, we have utilized our practical creativity to transform the very conditions of human existence. It is one form of being human to live in small egalitarian bands that hunt and gather, and another to drive automobiles, live in nations of hundreds of millions, have much longer life spans, and for many reside in an affluent consumer culture.
At the same time our moving from primitive weapons to nuclear weapons shows that our creativity is often inextricably connected to the most destructive and barbaric tools of war. According to one political scientist, the West has risen to dominance because we are better at killing. My opening comparisons show how our innovations and capacity for brutality often are entangled. Homo sapiens can be distinguished from other earthly life forms by our astounding creativity and capacity to harm.
Q: You envision there to be three volumes in this study. What are each about, and why should we be interested in them?
Ken: As human beings we should be interested even enthralled by the wonders and miracles of our history as a species. To know ourselves, we should be cognizant of what the full scope of our achievements and deficits are. I seek to present all the colors in the human rainbow. The first volume addresses two basics of the human condition and their ramifications. This relates to childhood on one hand and to what accompanies the need to eat on the other.
Our youngsters are dependent on adult nurturance for a long time. This caring for youngsters ranges from attunement, benevolence, bonding, and enduring love to neglect, insensitivity, and abuse. Humans usually come in families, pair bonding, and mutual caring in kin that are intermixed with rivalry, discord, shifting familial alliances, and power dynamics. The range of emotions and relationships in families are duplicated and expanded in the wider human societal arrangements.
While most plants are self-sufficient, mammals are not. We need to end the lives of other living beings to survive. To eat, we kill. But humans differ from most mammals, as mentioned, in that we universally have murder and suicide in all our cultures, are one of less than 10 mammal species that have wars, and we practice genocide. We are a kind and killing species. Not only that but our skill in producing massive surpluses of food has enabled our other creative and destructive advances. That is the first volume.
The second volume addresses our extraordinary endowments of a large capable brain, accompanying emotions, bipedal skills, intense sociality, our never-ending creative capacities, and the wonders and perplexities of our contradictory personhood. Understanding our creativity and character is indispensable in understanding what being human across our history has entailed.
The third volume addresses that history and what within our evolution has led to the transformation of human existence through an Industrial Revolution. This ongoing phenomenon’s engine runs through modern science, innovative technology, and more human creations. The ramifications of the industrial revolution have furthered globalizing tendencies, the Anthropocene age, and an approaching sixth extinction. Paul Simon declares it is an age of miracles and wonders, which it is. Yet we cannot omit it is also an age of exploitation and horrors. These are the things I will focus on in my three volumes.
Q: You claim that human attachment and our being a killing species are derived from a universal human condition. How so? Why are both being deeply bonded with others and our brutal slaying of humans and non-humans essential in studying humanity?
Ken: Homo sapiens have been and remain a kind and killing species. Our attachments arouse the benevolence and discord within us. We are one of several creatures with a capacity for caring and mutual love. Humans also have an unusual capacity for long-lasting sexual intercourse, romantic attachment, accompanying peak experiences, and enduring relationships of reciprocity and resentment. Our nurturance and attunement are often accompanied by rage and conflict. What an endowment we have! The other side of our concern for mutual well-being is what we do to each other and ourselves in our murders, suicides, wars, and genocides. The very species that will sacrifice life and limb to protect our loved ones will decimate and mutilate in murder, combat, and ethnic cleansing. Understanding human being and comprehending the remarkable range of our emotions and actions is indispensable.
Q: You cite Pascal saying “What a chimera is man! What a monster …what a chaos, what a contradiction, what a prodigy!” and Montaigne writing that “we are…double within ourselves, with the result that we do not believe what we believe, and we cannot rid ourselves of what we condemn.” What makes these quotes important for understanding who humans are?
Ken: Yes, we are a chimera and prodigy, highly focused in our endless creativity, and psychologically full of inner divisions and contradictions. The poet E. E. Cummings proclaimed that when the skies are hanged, and the oceans drowned the single secret will still be man. Whether our inner core will remain shrouded in mystery, the intense search for understanding the excellences and paradoxes of our confounding character needs to be central to any endeavor that addresses what human being is. There is such a range to what engages humans, it will take an ability to let oneself internally experience that full scope to be able to answer the human character question without wearing blinders or being self-deceptive. Who knows if any of us have the capability of showing our best, worst, and the immense amount of what is in between. I’m going to try to be comprehensive and balanced.
Q: What makes studying the wonders and paradoxes of our perplexing character integral to any study of what it means to be human?
Ken: It is our character, capacities, creativity, and cultures that have propelled humanity forward and backward. These capabilities combine in our complex personhood within culture and history. It is the human self in all its astounding wonders and perplexities that is one central key to understanding our species. We have never been the biggest and strongest on the block, but for good and ill humans have become the reigning species on the planet. What is also of important is explicating how our various species self-transformations have impacted on human and earthly existence.
Q: Why is examining human creativity an important part of your study?
Ken: Human creativity within culture and character has resulted in innovations that a thousand years ago may have been barely imaginable. We are, as mentioned. a 300,000-year-old species, but it is just a little less than 150 years ago that the telephone was invented. In the 21st century we entered the smart phone and Zoom ages. Before literacy existed a mere 5,000 years ago, the plays of Shakespeare would not be foreseeable. Our creativity also results in doomsday inventions. The history of humanity is often an exercise in species self-transformation and self-actualization for good and bad. How the psychology and history of creativity has led us down this long and winding road is entwined deeply within the unfolding human drama.
Q: Life forms on planet earth, as you said, appeared over 3 billion years ago, and Homo sapiens have been around a mere 300,000 years. What difference have humans made for life and death on planet Earth?
Ken: If there is a $64,000 question, this is it. Though life on earth is billions of years old, in more recent times, the results of human activity have led to what many proclaim is a new geological age, the Anthropocene. Preceding this geological period, among others, were the Holocene, Jurassic, and Triassic. Humans have transformed the earth’s geology. We are also a species that is not confined to one region of the planet. We’ve migrated most everywhere. This means that a grand number of species have had to adapt to our inventions and intrusions. Many species are disappearing due to the impact of humans on their environment and well-being.
Homo sapiens have also transformed what transpires on land. Highly populous cities and suburbs occupy land masses. Five hundred years ago who could have imagined endless highways with carbon omitting automobiles? In 2019, there were about 1.4 billion motor vehicles in use on this planet. According to one assessment, in year 100 of the common era there were 195 million humans, in 2023, there are just under 8 billion. We take up a lot of earth’s surfaces. Mother Earth is not the same planet it was before humans transformed it.
Q: What in your own life and experience has influenced why you are interested in being human and shape how you address such a vast and complex subject?
Ken: To adequately answer this question could entail a full memoir. My beginnings were crucial. I was born at the end of World War II. My father was in the Pacific. My mother was living in an apartment in Washington DC with her overbearing mother. And once I appeared, a transformation occurred for my mother. I learned about it later. When I was 27 one late night, she told me that when I was born, she felt love towards me she had never experienced before. Since then, I have heard the same from other mothers. My mother’s love and my later deep romantic entanglements have increased my interest in the centrality of love in all its complexity to being human.
My family of origin was Jewish, and Jews are known as the people of the book. For every holiday and birthday, my mother gave me books. To this day, I cannot get enough of reading. Certainly, to write about being human, one must read endlessly.
Another big deal for me was the 357 days I spent in South Vietnam during the height of the war. I mostly typed, but it was a war zone. In early 1970, I returned to the U.S. traumatized, despondent, and out of control. After three or four years, I began to bounce back. From my war trauma I became more interested in both psychology and history, and much later was stimulated by my war experience to investigate the role of killing in human existence.
Marriage and being the father of three sons also transformed me. As imperfect a parent as I have been, I have experienced as my mother had how connecting to one’s own child can bring out a loving, responsible, and nurturing side. This does not rule out my exhibiting the usual frustrations accompanying parenthood and marriage.
In my life, as have many others, I have deeply experienced the highs and lows of human experience. For a variety of reasons, I have also been highly self-critical. Through some process, I became aware of my own and other’s self-deceptions. In my later self-examinations, I apply being critical and exploratory to my own work. This spurs my creative bursts.
After many long and winding roads in 2011 at a scholarly conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan, I suddenly thought I should investigate what being human means and then immediately got the bright idea of developing and teaching such a course. I was able to do so as a faculty member at UConn. I am still immersed and enthralled by studying and writing about the wondrous and perplexing human creatures each one of us is.
Q: How does this inquiry into what it means to be human connect to psychohistory?
Ken: The human story cannot be comprehended without exploring the full history of our species. Similarly, our confounding and creative character requires psychological comprehensiveness and depth. The subject matter of being human is to a large extent psychohistorical.
It is also the case that the deep history of humanity expands the horizons of psychohistory. As being human encompasses our entire existence, it places our long history front and center. This entire span of human history also raises questions about what in our psychology has remained perennial and how much it alters depending on time and place.
One of the universals of human culture and history is the prevalence of dividing us from them. This tribalism employs projection/projective identification, where our own conflicts are attributed to others who are stereotyped and/or demonized. Opposing us to them raises the question of the different levels of these psychological mechanisms.
It is one more elemental psychological level say of a New York Yankees fan who stereotypes the Boston Red Sox in the privacy of his or her home. There is another level to advocate for collective discriminatory action towards an out group. It is still another phenomenon for one group to commit genocide against a demonized group of fellow humans. How projection/projective identification can evolve from just venting to mass murder is an important subject for psychohistorians to address. There are many quandaries and challenges in fully facing what it means to be human. I may not be up to the challenges, but I am going to try my best. It is a hell of a worthy and inexhaustible enterprise.
9. PUTIN AND XI AS PATRIMONIAL RULERS:
ANCIENT TRADITIONS TRUMP MARXISM
by J. I. (Hans) Bakker
Both Putin and Xi are Patrimonial rulers. That is important to note. Psychohistorians can think about the importance of Ancient Traditions for both leaders.
Max Weber (1922) develops Ideal Type Models (ITMs) of Patriarchy, Patrimonial prebendalism (Pp) and Patrimonial feudalism (Pf). It is part of his “mature theory of the emergence of modern capitalism in the 17-18th centuries.”
Both Russia (RF) and China (PRC) today have superficial layers of global goal-rational, instrumental capitalism. They partially fit into the world capitalist system that emerged after WWII. But they lean more heavily on purported Ancient Traditions than on aspects of Marxist theory and “Communism.”
The end of the Soviet Union did not result in Russia becoming a fully “modern” nation-state. The end of strict Maoism in the PRC did not eliminate a strong reliance on the Legalist-Confucian dynastic traditions associated with Confucianism that preceded the Republic of China. Neither Russia nor China were ever truly “feudal” in the Weberian sense (Pf). Their “prebendal” version of Patrimonial rulership is not an aberration, but the most common type of governance. It should not be confused with “Tribalism,” which as an anthropological concept Weber associated with an early form of Patriarchy (Weber also recognized Neo-Patriarchal elements in both Pp and Pf.)
It is not enough to think entirely in terms of rigid “egos” or biographical trajectories. It is also insufficient to rely on journalistic reified binaries like “democracy: versus “autocracy” or Cold War rhetoric about “totalitarianism.” The Ideal Type Model allows for subtle nuances. A leader who rises to the top in a Patrimonial system is hardly ever likely to think clearly about the steps that occurred in world history after Patrimonial feudalism provided a basis for the emergence of a powerful haute bourgeoisie and then modern capitalism.
Capitalism itself has continued to evolve. It has also spread around the whole world in ways that Marx himself predicted were necessary to move away from what he called “Oriental Despotism.” What Marx did not fully grasp, however, is that “despotism” is not just “Oriental.” It is also “Occidental” (e.g., The Roman Empire and the Holy Roman Empire in parts of Europe.)
Magna Carta (1215, 1217, 1225) in England and the Thirty Years War in parts of Europe are symbolic of the major transformation that took place as the Patrimonial rulership of Emperor Charles eroded. His son became known as the King of Spain and that led to the Dutch Revolt, an early example of the break from strict Patrimonial rulership to incipient bourgeois rule by the non-aristocratic elite of the Province of Holland. Aristocratic elements remained in the House of Orange, but until 1815 they were “stadhouders” (Dutch for stadtholders) and not Monarchs. The exception is William, who became a King of Great Britain and Ireland, but nevertheless remained a stadhouder in the Dutch Republic.
These remarks are part of my work on “Semiotic Sociology” as an attempt to create a viable Meta-Paradigm in sociology that will to some extent move us away from the fragmentation of more than 54 sections of the American Sociological Association (ASA) and a similar number of divisions in the International Sociological Association (ISA) and International Rural Sociological Association (IRSA). My edited 2015 book on The Methodology of Political Economy: Studying the Global Rural-Urban Matrix (Lexington-Rowman & Littlefield) was a step in this direction. Bakker (2023) is a highly abstract theoretical paper about “Semiotic Sociology [based on C. S. Peirce, Marx, Weber, Mead, Blumer, Dowd (1991) and others] that moves the key idea of a “general sociology” with a “grand theory” further along.
10. WHAT SHOULD PSYCHOHISTORIANS DO ABOUT ANTISEMITISM?
by Inna Rozentsvit
With antisemitism on the rise and hiding under different umbrellas, people of different walks of life and different professions approach it through doing research, organizing communities and peers, debating and writing. Many professionals, including psychologists and psychoanalysts, tried to tackle the “antisemitism issue” too. Recent incidents of antisemitism in academia (e.g., at the GWU) and para-academic circles (like organizational listservs) and the following “post-mortems” led to shutdowns of the “other side” from the “human” (often righteous), historical, social justice, linguistic, and other perspectives, as well as the garden variety “you are a bigot” stance – if you question the whole idea of someone’s approach to teaching in diversity-and-inclusion classroom being antisemitic at its core.
Earlier this month, the American Psychological Foundation, in conjunction with the Fund Organizing Committee and Division 55, announced the establishment of the APF Psychology of Antisemitism Fund. The press release stated that The Fund will support annual grants for psychology researchers to use psychological theory and evidence to develop or implement interventions aimed at the reduction of antisemitism and/or mitigating its effects.
Dr. Laura Barbanel, who convened the Organizing Committee, said “With the appalling and frightening rise of antisemitism in the United States and around the world, it seemed vital that psychologists be brought together to address the growing problem. Psychologists are the experts on human behavior and our hope is that their expertise can help mitigate the problem.”
Dr. Richard Lerner, a leading voice of support for The Fund, shared: “After World War II, psychologists were part of a multidisciplinary team that explained to the world the nature, developmental bases, and dangerous implications for world peace, democracy, and social justice of the authoritarian personality and of the fascist and white-supremacy ideas harbored by such individuals. Today, with the resurgence of fascism, white nationalism, and anti-democratic ideologies and actions besetting the world and, in particular, American government and civil society, psychologists are again being asked to focus their expertise on ways to understand the roots of antisemitism and fascism and to contribute to eliminating it from our nation. As they did almost 80 years ago, psychological science will meet this challenge, and the APF Psychology of Antisemitism Fund will significantly help enable them to make this contribution to democracy and the well-being of all people in our nation.”
We must give credit to psychologists who are already doing work of bringing awareness to, educating about, and organizing against antisemitism. One such organization, Psychologists Against Antisemitism (PsychAAS), is led by Dr. Julie Ancis, who will be presenting on Thursday, May 18th, on “Cyberpsychological Investigations of Social Media and Online Antisemitism.” [You can check the group’s activities on social media here: https://www.facebook.com/PsychAAS/]
What about psychohistorians? What is our role in reduction of antisemitism aka Anti-Semitism, Judenhass, Antisemitismus, etc., etc., etc? And what will be our methodology? I suggest we use a transdisciplinary approach to deal with this complicated issue (check my entry on call for transdisciplinary psychohistory in our Winter 2023 Newsletter).
To mitigate or combat any issue, we need to understand the origins of it (its genetics), as well as the factors that allow those “genetics” to be expressed – like “epigenetics” of the problem. And, understanding the terms first – is crucial. The word anti-Semite was used first by Wilhelm Marr in his 1879 essay “The Way to Victory of Germanicism over Judaism,” offering a “scientific” name to Jew-hatred. He was the one that used “Antisemitismus,” which meant hatred of the Jewish “race” instead of “Judenhass” (hatred of Jews). Why? As per Deborah Lipstadt, a historian, Marr was convinced that it is in your blood to be a Jew, and being Jewish does not exclude those who do not practice Jewish religion, and even those who converted to other religions.
Next question is: could a “Semitic” person be anti-Semitic? This word, Semitic, was used since 18th century to unite Middle Eastern languages that have linguistic similarities. But there is no “Semitic peoplehood,” while there is a Jew-hatred-like attitude from other linguistic Semites. [Many researchers of this subject have an opinion that other “Semites” can be antisemitic.] That is why the ADL proposed using less confusing “antisemitism” rather anti-Semitism. This perspective keeps antisemitism, the Jew-hatred,” where it belongs: in the category of HATING.
So, if we, psychohistorians, care about this complicated matter of antisemitic hate, we need to get involved in examining, disputing, and writing about antisemitism. This will allow not to whitewash the hate towards a group of people who have only one thing in common: Jewish blood (not a language, a religion, a political identification), and will allow us to find peaceful solutions to our differences in opinions and to unify us under one, HUMAN, race.
“The mystic chords of memory … will yet swell …
when again touched, as surely they will be,
by the better angels of our nature.”
[See the Call for Papers on “The Psychoanalysis and Psychohistory of Anti-Semitism” in Clio’s Psyche: https://psychohistoryforum.com/call-for-papers-the-psychoanalysis-and-psychohistory-of-anti-semitism/ and in the Bulletin Board below.]
11. BULLETIN BOARD
TRICKY PROBLEMS IN ANALYTIC THERAPIES AND THEIR SOLUTIONS
LIVE VIRTUAL SEMINAR @ ORI
with JEROME S. BLACKMAN, M.D., FIPA
JUNE 24th (11AM — 5PM EDT/NYC), 2023
For more information and to register, visit
Therapists inevitably feel more gratified in their work when their cases have better treatment outcomes. Even when people can utilize interpretive (psychoanalytically based) approaches in therapy, many problems crop up which can make their treatment difficult.
This interactive seminar delves into many of those problems, including 1) timing of interventions; 2) the male “Yes, Dear!”; 3) bullies (who demand medication or ask personal question about you); 4) highly intelligent people who doubt your ability to keep up; 5) wealthy people; 6) people asking too few questions during evaluation (Blackman, 2004); 7) asking too many question during treatment (Dorpat, 2000); 8) people with vague chief complaints; 8) setting up the working alliance and the therapeutic alliance (Greenson, Zetzel, Adatto – see Blackman, 2013); 9) planes of intrapsychic conflict: where to intervene; past vs. present unconscious (Sandler & Sandler, 1994); 10) people with high suicide risk (multiple references including Durkheim an Shneidman – in Blackman, 2004, chapter 8); 11) promiscuous people (acter-outers); 12) people who are involved with someone who is driving them crazy (Blackman, 2013a).
Many of these are in Blackman (2013), The Therapist’s Answer Book: Solutions to 101 Tricky Problems in Psychotherapy. This book tackles 101 common and some uncommon (though interesting) problems therapists face in treating patients who are amenable to a psychoanalytically based approach, such as wise guys, patients who sleep with your secretary, people who figure you out, people who move your furniture, and suicidal people. Each chapter is 3 to 5 pages and contains both a short answer to the problem and a longer, more theoretically complex answer. All chapters include examples of techniques used in the clinical setting with representative patients.
The Early Bird Registration is still available at:
Announcing the Psychobiography Reading Group
of the Psychohistory Forum on June 3, 2023
June 3rd, 2023 (11:00am – 1pm EDT; rooms open at 10:30 am), 3rd Meeting
For our 3rd meeting, we will be reading Chapters 2 and 3 of
Erik Erikson’s Young Man Luther: A Study in Psychoanalysis and History.
For more information and to RSVP – visit
Call for Papers: Psychobiography
(due September 15, 2023)
For this Winter 2024 Special Feature of Clio’s Psyche, we welcome your submissions with psychoanalytic, psychological, and psychohistorical insights, on PSYCHOBIOGRAPHY, including the following subjects:
- The autobiographies of psychobiographers (eventually to be included in an edited book along with psychobiographies they have written).
- Focus comparatively on the coping mechanisms of people in psychobiography.
- Psychobiographical studies that illustrate transgenerational transmission of trauma and resilience.
- Presenting a case study of an academic psychologist going beyond personal. characteristics and traits to emphasize the childhood and life passage of the whole person.
- A psychobiographical study of a major academic psychologist relating theory to her/his life.
- Presenting a case study of an academic psychoanalyst focusing much less on theory. after undergoing psychoanalytic training and delving into the childhood and inner life in a different manner.
- Teaching psychobiography.
- A comparative study of the approaches and methodologies of psychobiographers from a variety of fields.
- A comparative psychobiography of ordinary people in crisis such as what is happening in Ukraine.
- The role of gender: A comparative study of the psychobiographies written by women and men.
- An in-depth study of psychobiographies of the 20thcentury including early Freudian ones.
- Book reviews on psychobiographical monographs.
- Reviews of psychobiographical books and major media biographies.
For more information about this Call for Papers, please follow the link here:
Call for Papers – Anti-Semitism
(due October 1, 2023)
We welcome your submissions, especially personalized ones with psychoanalytic, psychological, and psychohistorical insights on the hatred of Jews in the contemporary and historical worlds, including on the following subjects:
- Definitions of anti-Semitism.
- Is anti-Semitism a useful term, although Jew-hatred is more accurate?
- Envy and resentment of Jews, sometimes leading to paranoia.
- Historical Jew-hating in polytheistic Egypt, Persia, and Rome.
- Emerging rampant anti-Semitism during the Crusades.
- Christian and Islamic anti-Semitism throughout history.
- Castration anxiety related to the Jewish covenant involving circumcision of the foreskin.
- Sibling rivalry of Christians and Muslims who see Judaism as the Oldest Abrahamic religion.
- Disagreement with Israeli governmental policies as a cloak for anti-Semitism?
- Why is the hatred of Jews such an enduring feature of Western and Islamic history?
- A double standard for Jews: Is the “Jew as victim” challenged by Israeli toughness?
- Jewish self-hared: Anti-Semitism among Jews—Marx and many others.
- What are the parallels between Jews in the U.S. and in pre-expulsion Spain and Germany?
- Pioneers of capitalism and modernity: Are Jews hated as the yeast of modern civilization?
- What is the relationship of Judaism and psychoanalysis?
- Why did Stalin, a not-so-secret anti-Semite, call Jew-hatred a form of cannibalism?
- How does Left-wing and communist anti-Semitism differ from Right-wing Jew hatred?
- The literature of anti-Semitism.
We seek articles from 1,500-2,500 words—including your title, author name with affiliation, a 25-word abstract, 7-10 keywords, and your brief biography (3-4 sentences) ending in your email address. Send documents in Microsoft Word (*docx or doc) format by October 1, 2023. We urge you to share this Call for Papers with colleagues and lists. A high-quality article of up to 3500 words received by July 1, 2023 may be accepted as a symposium piece and distributed for commentaries.
For more information, please visit:
Call for Papers – The Relationship of Poetry and Psychoanalysis/Psychohistory
(due October 1, 2023)
We invite papers from poets, scholars, therapists, and our readers who enjoy thinking about or writing poetry to join in moving from unconscious to conscious expression, including on the following subjects:
- What does the poetry you write or read mean to you?
- Why not write a poem on how psychoanalysis impacted your life?
- What is the therapeutic value of poetry?
- Why is the poetry of death, dying, and loss so helpful in the grieving process?
- Why did Freud recognize that the poets, as well as the philosophers before him, discovered the unconscious?
- How do trauma and poetic expression intersect?
- What is the relationship between poetry and politics and social activism?
- What poem has meant the most to you and why?
- Why not write a psychobiographical account of one of your favorite poets?
- How does poetry help people to confront their deepest unconscious desires?
- How do people connect through poetry?
- How can applied psychohistorical poetry contribute to scholarship without being “academic”?
- How does poetry make sense of repressed emotions, rendering the inchoate coherent?
- Why not compare the poetry of fear, love, hatred, patriotism, and war?
- Why is poetry so meaningful in the Russian tradition?
- Why is poetry so relatively insignificant in the American tradition?
We seek articles from 1,500-2,500 words—including your title, author name with affiliation, a 25-word abstract, 7-10 keywords, and your brief biography (3-4 sentences) ending in your email address. Send documents in Microsoft Word (*docx or doc) format by October 1, 2023. We would welcome a symposium article of up to 3,500 words on the subject, but it must be submitted by October 1 to be peer reviewed and to have colleagues write commentaries (of up to 1,200 words) of it. We urge you to share this Call for Papers with colleagues and lists.
For more information, please check the full Call for Papers at the following webpage:
An Object Relations Approach to Parent-Child Interactions
That Impact the Child’s Emotional Development
Virtual Live Interactive Seminar
with Dr. David P. Celani
June 10 & 11, 2023 (10am – 1:30pm EST – on both days)
Continuing Education: 8.5 CEs for APA, NYS Psych, NYS SW
For more information and to register, please visit
- Brian D’Agostino, President
- Michael Britton, Vice President
- Marc-André Cotton, International Vice President
- Brigitte Demeure, Secretary
- Denis J. O’Keefe, Treasurer
- Inna Rozentsvit, Communications Director, Editor, Psychohistory News,
- David Lotto, Editor, The Journal of Psychohistory
- Susan Hein, Publisher, The Journal of Psychohistory
- Paul Elovitz, Editor, Clio’s Psyche and listserv
- Howard Stein, Member, IPA Leadership Council