Volume 41, No. 3

Ken Fuchsman, Editor 
Inna Rozentsvit, Co-Editor


This late summer psychohistory newsletter you find in your email covers a variety of topics. The lead essay starts with the deadly May 2022 Uvalde school shootings. The article places the shooting in the context of the rise in mass violence in 21st century America, and ends with the passage of gun legislation.  Next is an article on an under investigated topic by an NYU scholar not well known in psychohistorical circles. Dr. Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu is the author of the beautifully written, insightful account on the impact on skin, land, and psyche of Agent Orange on Vietnam and America in the past and present. It is also the tale of a University of Pennsylvania dermatologist crucial in getting Dow Chemical’s Agent Orange approved for use by the military. He also developed a wildly popular cosmetic formula for Dow that enriched him, and conducted exploitative experiments on the skin of prisoners who were primarily African American. Of much value is an account of an August conference on the book The International Handbook of Love: Transcultural and Transdisciplinary Perspectives edited by Claude-Helene Mayer and Elisabeth Vandreheiden. The virtual event featured scholars from Europe, Africa, and the United States on the challenging topic of love. Next is a piece about a theme renowned psychohistorian Robert Jay Lifton has written about for half a century. It his notion of the Protean self. This addresses how adapting to the flux and traumas of contemporary life can lead to renewal.   Psychiatrist Arnold Richards has been a force within psychoanalysis for decades. He contributes a piece on his International Journal of Controversial Discussions. Following that is an update on research generated in response to Steven Pinker’s 2011 psychohistorical The Better Angels of Our Nature, Why Violence Has Declined.  There will be a new course on the field of psychohistory designed and taught by the esteemed Dr. Paul Elovitz and offered by the Object Relations Institute. Dr.Elovitz writes about this course here.  He also has an essay in Michael Maccoby and Mauricio Coritina’s co-edited Leadership, Psychoanalysis and Society. This volume is reviewed here.  We end this issue with the psychohistory bulletin board. May each of you be well and happy.  Good reading.

Ken Fuchsman


By Ken Fuchsman

Chris Murphy at the annual walk across Connecticut

On May 24, 2022, Salvador Ramos entered the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas and shot and killed 19 students and 2 teachers. It was the elementary school he had attended. Salvador was 18 years old. He was the second and last child of his parents, who split up. His father did not consistently parent. As a teenager, Salvador became fascinated with school shootings. Before leaving to attack Robb Elementary School, he shot his grandmother.

On December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza entered the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and shot and killed 20 children and 6 adults. It was the elementary school he had attended. He was 20 years old. Adam was the second and last child of his parents. His mother and father divorced, and Adam refused to see his father. As a teenager, Adam became preoccupied with the Columbine mass shooting.  Before leaving to go to his old elementary school, Adam shot and killed his mother.

The parallels between these two shooters are hard to avoid.  Robb Elementary and Sandy Hook are the two worst public-school massacres in American history. They are part of an epidemic of mass school shootings first evident in the Columbine Colorado high school mass shootings in 1999 that killed 13 and injured another 20. These mass school murders are most often enacted by troubled adolescent males within a U.S. culture awash with weapons and afflicted with multiple mass shootings. Since the 2012 Newtown CT mass shootings, there have been 948 such incidents in schools in the U.S. In these killings, 169 students have died. Since the 1999 Columbine massacre, 300,000 students have been in school when shootings have taken place.

But it is not only school shootings. From right after Sandy Hook to 2022, U.S. mass shootings have almost tripled. Through June 2, 2022, there were 213 mass shooting incidents in 2022 alone, which is a 50% increase from 141 shootings in May of 2017.

A study of public mass shootings in 171 countries from 1966 to 2012 was undertaken. Considering adjustments for population size, “the United States had six times its share of the world’s mass shooters.” As well, the number of lives taken in U.S. mass shootings has been on the rise. In the 1970s an average of 8 lives a year were lost as the result of mass shootings; in the 1980s it was 15, in the 1990s, 21, in the 2000s, 24.  In the last ten years it has averaged 51 deaths per year.

There are now 398 million legal firearms owned by citizens in the U.S. That is 120 firearms for every 100 citizens. Second in the world in gun ownership is the Falkland Islands which average 62 guns per 100 individuals. Gun ownership is also on the increase. According to the Congressional Research Service, in 2016 there were about twice as many guns per capita as in 1968.

Not surprisingly, the U.S. has the highest homicide rate of all highly industrialized nations.  Americans are twenty times more likely to be killed by a firearm than individuals living in other economically advanced nations.

One of the remarkable characteristics of post 2008 Great Recession in the U. S, is the rise to prominence of violence prone, anger fueled extremist activities, Whatever the internal divisions, many of the political radicals and all the mass shooters are expressing, they are taking out their hate onto targeted others. This can range from stereotyping ethnic, religious, and racial groups, to in mainstream American politics caricaturing devotees of the other major political party, to murderously singling out school children or former fellow employees for slaughter. It is an epidemic of externalizing one’s self-hate by projecting it onto and/or either verbally or actually taking it out on others. This projection is a common side of the universal phenomenon of us vs. them. It has just become more prevalent since the economic collapse of 2008. The United States has not witnessed anything like this since the race riots and political violence of the 1960s, and before that during the Civil War era.

In recent years, hate groups have increased, domestic terrorism is higher, and lethal mass shootings are definitely part of this overall trend. Something has cracked in parts of the American psyche. From Newtown to January 6th to Uvalde a number of us are drawn to public acts of mass violence.

In the United States in 2000, there were 602 hate groups, which rose to a peak of 1,020 in 2018, and started to fall after that.  In 2021 there were 733. USA Today reports in March 2022 that this “decline does not indicate the far right’s power is waning, but rather suggests that extremist ideas have moved from fringe groups to the political mainstream.” According to a 2022 report by the Southern Poverty Law Center, “The reactionary and racist beliefs that propelled a mob into the Capitol…have not dissipated. Instead, they’ve coalesced into a political movement that is now one of the most powerful forces shaping politics in the United States.”

In looking at who joins hate groups, sociologist Pete Simi in 2014 said that “one of the most common background characteristics is some kind of family disruption, whether that be divorce or parental abandonment.” There is a parallel finding in those who kill a number of people in one incident. Peterson and Densely report that “many mass shooters experience childhood abuse and exposure to violence at a young age.” This includes “physical abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence in the home, and severe bullying by classmates.”

To be considered a mass shooting at least 4 people have to be murdered.  When it comes to such school shootings, Densley and Peterson have found 13 incidents of mass shootings in schools between 1989 and 2022. Of these, 4 involved the perpetrator shooting a family relative.  All but 2 were committed by what was once called lone wolf killers. There were 2 incidents where multiple murderers worked together.  All these mass school shootings were committed by males, and the average age was 18. Before the Uvalde killings, 12 of the 14 mass school shooters had attended the school where they committed their murders.

There is another aspect of mass school shootings that should be mentioned.  New York Times reporter Manny Fernandez and colleagues report that that “school shootings have become the American equivalent of suicide bombings — not just a tactic, but an ideology.” These violent endeavors appeal to adolescents and young men who may be “depressed, alienated or mentally disturbed.” They see school shootings “as a way to lash out at the world and to get the attention of a society that they believe bullies, ignores or misunderstands them.”

In the 21st century, there has been an epidemic even a spectacle of mass school shootings, domestic terrorism, calls for and threats of political violence. Lethal extremism is now a frequent occurrence in our public square.

Yet in relation to mass school shootings these ideological statements are also the acts of deeply troubled young men inflicting their personal fury and disorders on innocent and unsuspecting school children. Their individual journeys to the dark side have become part of the extremism that has moved too close to the mainstream of our American public horror show.

How did the two worst mass school murderers end up where they did? In examining their lives, what is noticeable is not only the parallels but the extraordinary differences between them.

Adam Lanza lived in highly affluent Newtown, Connecticut, and Salvador Ramos resided in less prosperous Uvalde, Texas. According to the U.S. Census Bureaus as of July,1 2021, Newtown had a population of about 27,000 and Uvalde County had 24,000 residents. Median household income from 2016 to 2020 in Newtown was $125,028, and in Uvalde County was $45,936.  The poverty rate in Uvalde County was 19% and it was 3.4% in Newtown. 72.5% of Uvalde County was Hispanic or Latino, in Newtown it was 6.1%. In Newtown, 51.3% of residents 25 or older had at least a bachelor’s degree, in Uvalde County, the stat was 19.4%. For all their differences, both these males came from disrupted families, were clearly mentally troubled, became drawn to mass school shootings, shot a family relative first, and then brought weapons of mass destruction to the elementary school they attended, and inflicted a massacre. Here is an outline of their lives.

Adam Lanza was born on April 22, 1992, the second son of parents Nancy and Peter. His older brother was born in April, 1988. Nancy had been a stockbroker and Peter was a highly successful tax specialist for General Electric. His parents separated in 2001, and divorced in 2009.

In looking at Adam’s life what is notable is how closely he fits the profile of serial murderers the FBI developed in the 1980s. These males who committed multiple homicides usually came from well-off families, where in 47% of the families the father left home prior to the son reaching adolescence. Fewer than 50% of serial killers finished high school, and almost 75% had been diagnosed with psychiatric disorders. Before their murder sprees they had little human contact and were filled with aggressive fantasies.

Adam never graduated high school and had been diagnosed with a mental disorder.  He spent most of his time in a basement room. Adam refused to see his father, his older brother was off on his own, other kin lived out of state, leaving Adam and his mother residing alone in a 3,100 square foot house on over 2 acres of land. A divorced mother in her early 40s with a young adult child in her home and getting over $200,000 alimony annually was until recently an extremely rare phenomenon. Who knows if having Adam’s problems being addressed by a larger nearby familial structure would have made a difference?  In the past his mother would likely not have been the sole one actively concerned on a daily basis with Adam’s disturbed psychological state.

Nevertheless, in the internet age isolated in his darkened room, Adam could surf the net and find multiple sites concerned with violent atrocities that reinforced his deadly fantasies. The relatively recent phenomenon of the web gave Adam a channel for his darker impulses that may not as easily gotten the same reinforcement before the personal computer was widely available.

Adam certainly had obstacles in his life. At age thirteen he was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. Also, at age thirteen one hospital reported that he suffered from overwhelming anxiety; the next year another medical facility diagnosed him with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

His mother ignored the psychiatric evaluations and rejected the medications suggested. By this time, during the week it was just the mother and younger son living alone together.  She was devoted to her troubled offspring’s care, and often acceded to his frequent demands. At times, anxiety about her health led to a role reversal. She would confide to Adam her worries about herself. Surviving emails show the boy would comfort his mother. Still, his own troubles dominated.

After two years attending the town’s high school, Adam dropped out, soon after he completed three courses at a nearby state university, then around 17 stopped taking classes. He then remained at home where he was solitary, phobic, depressed. He blacked out all the windows in his bedroom and also became anorexic. Adam spent much of his waking hours online obsessed with aberrant actions.

When he was 20, his mother decided to go out of state by herself in the middle of the week and visit friends.  Adam objected. She went anyway and returned on Thursday. On Friday morning December 14, 2012, using one of his mother’s weapons, he shot and killed her while she slept. Adam Lanza, proceeded to drive to his former elementary school, killed twenty first-graders and six adults, then executed himself in the Newtown Sandy Hook massacre.

Adam had been a troubled individual enmeshed with an enabling mother who sometimes parentified her younger son. She allowed Adam to be an unemployed dropout who did not receive sufficient medical and psychological treatment.  Her son’s lethal actions cannot be comprehended separate from the internet age, the mass school shootings, the American gun culture, the isolated mother-child dyad, his mom not getting proper treatment for her demanding son, and his slipping through the cracks of the educational and medical authorities.

There is a stark contrast in the material conditions of Salvador Ramos and Adam Lanza.  Salvador was born on May 16, 2004.  His sister was three. His mother is Adriana Reyes, also known as Adriana Martiniez, and his father is Salvador Ramos Sr. The couple separated while Salvador Jr. was young.  His father had inconsistent contact with his two children.

Adriana worked as a server at the Golden Dragon Restaurant in Uvalde. She earned $500 a month take home from her job and received $223 a month in public assistance and $269 in food stamps. His father is employed digging holes around utility poles for inspection.

The elder Salvador in 2000 was sentenced to 180 days in jail for struggling with a police officer. In 2012, Salvador Ramos Sr. was indicted for aggravated assault, and was ordered to avoid the victim and directed to undergo drug and alcohol testing. Adriana was reported to have problems with drug use. In 2007, though the charges were dropped she was arrested for assaulting a family member, and had to undergo anger management counseling. It was an argument between Adriana and then 17- year-old Salvador that led her to kick her son out of their home, and he went to live with his maternal grandmother, which is where he was staying when he shot her and then went to his old elementary school to cause havoc.  Anger management issues were present in both parents, and then their son.

Given the strains and challenges of Adriana’s life, her mother, Celia “Sally” Martinez Gonzales, a teacher’s aide in the Uvalde schools for 27 years, often acted as a maternal figure for both of her grandchildren.  Salvador’s older sister, Marisabelle, moved in with her grandmother in 2017 and 2018 for her junior and senior years of high school while attending an alternative high school in Uvalde.  Sometime after graduation, Marisabelle joined the Navy. From 2017 on, it was just Ariana and Salvador Jr. living together.  Until that is when Adriana kicked her son out.

As a school boy Salvador’s mother had him dress in the same clothes day after day and kept his hair cut quite short.  For these things Salvador was teased.  He had a speech impediment as well.  Initially he had been a decent student at school. During fourth grade and after he was bullied for his stutter, clothes and haircut. It started a downhill path for the boy in relation to his academics. Though he had friends, he was a convenient target for his school mates. Later, he began skipping school regularly. In 2018, he had over a hundred days of being absent, he failed his classes and did poorly on standardized tests.  There is no record of truancy officers visiting his home. In 2021, when he should have been a junior in high school, he was listed as a freshman. That year given his poor attendance and grades, the Uvalde school system withdrew him. Another troubled adolescent who slipped through the cracks of the school system. The same thing had happened to high school dropout Adam Lanza.

Discharged from school as well, young Salvador was going off on the deep end. He became withdrawn and often isolated. According to a report commissioned by the Texas legislature, Salvador’s former girlfriend described him “as lonely and depressed, constantly teased by friends who called him a ‘school shooter.’ She said he told her repeatedly that he wouldn’t live past eighteen, either because he would commit suicide or simply because he ‘wouldn’t live long.’” He started to watch “videos and images of suicides, beheadings, accidents, and the like.” He said that “he was ‘not human,” and “wondered if he was a sociopath.”

He not only became drawn to school shootings, but talked about it often enough that people called him school shooter. Salvador had saved money from his jobs working at fast-food restaurants.  He began in February 2022 to buy online “60 30-round magazines, a holographic weapon sight, and a Hellfire Gen 2 snap-on trigger system.” When he turned 18 on May 16, 2022, he could legally buy weapons and according to the Texas legislative report went on a wild spending spree. Salvador bought “1,740 rounds of 5.56mm 75-grain boat tail hollow point to his doorstep, at a cost of $1,761.50. He ordered a Daniel Defense DDM4 V7 (an AR-15-style rifle) for shipment to a gun store in Uvalde, at a cost of $2,054.28 (including tax and transfer fee). On May 17, 2022, he bought a Smith and Wesson M&P15 (also an AR-15-style rifle) at the same store in Uvalde, at a cost of $1,081.42. He returned the next day for 375 rounds of M193, a 5.56mm 55-grain round with a full metal jacket.”  Salvador was clearly preparing for an armed attack.  His grandmother would not allow him to store this arsenal in her house, and an uncle agreed to keep it for Salvador.

On the morning of May 24th, his grandmother removed Salvador from her mobile phone plan.  Later that day he shot her and then made his fateful journey to his old school, and conducted a massacre in his old fourth-grade classroom.  He left the school but was later shot and killed by law enforcement.  Salvador had killed twenty-one people.  Another dreadful U.S. mass school shooting.

In 1925, Theodore Dreiser published his classic novel An American Tragedy, which concerns a young male who commits a murder. The tales of Adam Lanza and Salvador Ramos and their multiple dead victims are another kind of American tragedy. The tragedy is aided and abetted by the rampant gun culture and the notorious inaction of the American Congress to pass meaningful legislation to restrict guns after the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre. the Parkland school killings of 218, and the other mass shootings in and out of schools before and after.  While the tragedies continued to mount up, something in Congress changed after the Uvalde slaughter.

Central to this unexpected change has been the role of a Connecticut office holder, Chris Murphy, who represented Newtown as a member of the House of Representatives at the time of the killings, and had been elected as a U.S. senator the month before Adam Lanza’s fateful rampage.  When Lanza murdered all those six-year-old first graders, the 39-year-old senator-elect Murphy had a four-year-old son, Owen, and a one-year toddler boy named Rider. The day of the killings, Murphy had a long- planned commitment to take his children to go see the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. His family was standing on a platform at the Bridgeport, Connecticut train station that would take them into Manhattan when Chris was informed as to what happened at Sandy Hook School. He made the hard decision to forego the family outing and attend to the Newtown tragedy.  As a father of two youngsters himself, it is not surprising that all these deaths of young children hit Murphy hard, as it did many others stunned by the mass killings.

As Connecticut’s junior senator writes in his valuable 2020 book The Violence Inside Us: “I was a firsthand witness to the immediate aftermath of Sandy Hook. These parents are all my age – many are now close friends.” When he published his book in 2020, his youngest son had just finished first grade.  “It was inconceivable to me that he might not survive the year.”

For Murphy, “Not a day goes by that I don’t experience the broad sinking pall of grief caused by this country’s inaction in the face of mass slaughter.” A week after the massacre, Murphy attended the Newtown funeral service for first-grader Dylan Hockley. Murphy writes, “it was during Dylan’s funeral that I resolved to change myself politically” and to fearlessly pursue “anti-gun violence legislation.” He adds he became closest to Dylan’s parents in the ensuing years. Murphy recognizes that Newtown and its impact “started me on a life-changing journey and helped me discover what truly lies inside me.” Ironically, it was the unimaginable terror of the Sandy Hook tragedy that awakened in Murphy a path to self-discovery and self-understanding. Tragedy for some can open a path to illumination.

Another aspect of Murphy’s outlook should be emphasized.  In 2020, he writes, “Through all the searing pain and bottomless loss that I have witnessed, I remain confident America will rise up.” He says that “almost every day during the past seven years” he visualizes the day when he “will walk out of the U.S. Senate chamber having just helped pass the first meaningful legislation to crack down on gun violence in a generation.”

He kept that determination. In response to a mass shooting in 2016, senator Murphy filibustered and talked for 14 hours and 50 minutes to get the Senate leadership to consider gun control legislation.  On the May day of the Uvalde massacre, on the Senate floor Murphy addressed his fellow senators in a speech that went viral.

“What are we doing? What are we doing?.. Just days after a shooter walked into a grocery store to gun down African American patrons, we have another Sandy Hook on our hands. What are we doing?.. Why do you spend all this time running for the United States Senate? Why do you go through all the hassle of getting this job, of putting yourself in a position of authority if your answer is that as the slaughter increases, as our kids run for their lives, we do nothing. What are we doing? Why are you here if not to solve a problem as existential as this?”

Somehow, Uvalde caused other senators to reconsider their opposition to gun control legislation.  senator Murphy worked with Texas Republican John Cornyn and his good friend Arizona Democratic senator Kristen Sinema to forge a compromise legislation that was signed into law by President Biden in June of 2022. All the Senate Democrats and 15 Senate Republicans voted for the bill. The legislation enhanced background checks for those between 18 and 21, allowed laws that could remove firearms from those considered dangerous, provided millions for mental health and safety in schools, and extended to dating partners a law that prohibited domestic abusers from buying guns. But it did not have a provision that prohibited anyone under 21 from purchasing a semi-automatic weapon, nor does it include universal background checks, nor prohibiting selling large capacity magazines, yet alone banning the sale or possession of military style weapons of mass destruction.

Back on July 20, 1969 in first putting his foot on the lunar surface, American astronaut Neil Armstrong said, “one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” In relation to effective gun control, the giant leap has not yet landed. Still the one small step that became law in June 2022 beats the all too familiar alternative of mass murders, much political sound and fury, and Congressional inaction. It is an overdue, tiny but welcome start.

The night before the Senate was to announce that the gun legislation compromise had a majority, senator Murphy was home by himself on a Saturday in his Hartford house. His wife and two sons were at their Washington D.C. home. As Chris Murphy said on July 5, 2002 in Litchfield, Connecticut, that June evening he began calling many of the parents in Newtown whose children had been murdered to inform them of the welcome news that finally Congress was going to pass some gun control legislation.   They had been through so much together over the last ten years that Murphy wanted to share some good news for a change. The tragedy and the struggle for relief had bonded them. As he had said, he was not only their senator but many of them had become friends.

Mourning and recovery have made these residents and their senator close. They share a cause with deep emotions: undying parental love for their children. This becomes most painful and poignant when a parent endures death of a child. Murphy’s identification with their suffering changed him, them, and now enough representatives and senators to pass an imperfect law addressing a major American problem. So many guns combined with uncontrolled hatred has led to much disparaging, demonizing, depersonalizing and killing our fellow Americans. Hopefully, other things can transpire that lessen the American specialty of murdering our own at higher rates than any other industrialized nation does.

2. Experiment in Skin: Race and Beauty in the Shadows of Vietnam
Interview with Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu

By Ken Fuchsman

Dr. Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu is Associate Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University, and author of The Beautiful Generation: Asian Americans and the Cultural Economy of Fashion, and Experiments in Skin both published by Duke University Press.  She is Vietnamese.  Her family emigrated to the U.S. and she grew up in northwestern Connecticut. She is interviewed by Ken Fuchsman.


Question: Your remarkable and beautifully written book Experiment in Skin: Race and Beauty in the Shadows of Vietnam (Duke University Press, 2021), addresses these subjects in America and Vietnam from the era of the Vietnam War to the present. At the end of the book, you come to extraordinary conclusions about how we deal with toxicity in our lives. This is a book that is indispensable in connecting the past and our worrisome present. I hope everybody reads it. First you describe how we “scrutinize skin” for signs of racial difference and “health and beauty, virtue and vitality.”  What led you to this topic and what makes the subject of skin so important?

Answer: I came to this topic in some ways quite by chance. As I mentioned in the book, I had originally intended to study the rapidly expanding market for cosmetics in Vietnam, as a way to understand the cultural effects of luxury consumption in a former socialist state. But once I started asking such simple questions as, where do these cosmetics come from and why do skincare products dominate this industry, I fell into a research rabbit hole that took me to places I did not know I would go. It took me in particular to origins of dermatology as a medical specialty in the U.S., to the work of such founding figures of the field as Albert Kligman and Marion Sulzberger, to the creation of U.S. Military Dermatology Research Program during the Vietnam War-era — all of which shaped our understanding of our skin.

We don’t often think about our skin as an important bodily organ–our biggest organ, in fact, and one that gives us our integrity as an individual and lets us know where we end and something else begins. And yet we inscribe so much meaning to our surface: we think, for instance, that we can tell a person’s race/culture from their skin, know how old they are, how healthy they are, etc. How did skin become both a thing and not a thing to us, both so visible and invisible at the same time? How did a multi-billion-dollar industry emerge to sell us things to take care of our skin? I became fascinated by these questions, and the more I dug into the medical history of skin, the more I realized how important the U.S. military has been in shaping our knowledge of it. The story I ended up telling is about how militarism taught us to see our bodies and our world, and about the experimentation required to wage war and to live with its effects.


Question: You show the interconnection between the development of the chemicals used in Agent Orange to such destruction in Vietnam as well as to the expansion of cosmetics in the U. S.  and do so through one specific American academic researcher. Please describe this interrelated development and this researcher.

Answer: The book begins with an account of the dermatologist Albert Kligman, who taught at the University of Pennsylvania and ran a massive research lab at the Holmesburg Prison outside of Philadelphia, where he carried out research for corporations like Dow Chemical and for the U.S. military. Dow Chemical, which provided the vast majority of the chemical compound TCDD (or dioxin), commonly known as Agent Orange, to the U.S. during the Vietnam War, had enlisted Kligman to test its possible harmful effects. Dow’s workers were breaking out in a severe form of acne, as well as suffering from other less visible conditions, but when Kligman injected it into his incarcerated test subjects, he claimed he saw no effects. (This finding helped to shore up Dow’s claims regarding the chemical compound’s safety and helped to clear it for widespread use). While carrying out this research, Kligman discovered what later became the blockbuster anti-aging and anti-acne product, Retin-A, which earned him millions of dollars and helped launch the cosmetic/pharmaceutical (or cosmeceutical) industry we have today. So, in a sense, Kligman helped to spread the poison of Agent Orange in Vietnam and beyond, and also invented the cure that many Vietnamese women would reach for when trying to remediate its effects on their bodies.


Question: The American use of Agent Orange in that war that has left lasting impact on Vietnam. How does this apply to both the land itself and the people of Vietnam?

Answer: Dioxin is terribly tenacious. It clings to land and water. Humans continue to ingest it through the food chain, they store it in their fatty tissues, they pass it along to their children and so on, such that, even now, decades after the war, many Vietnamese living in highly defoliated areas still have high levels of dioxin their bloodstream. There has, as a result, been a high rate of cancer, disability, and fetal anomalies in some parts of Vietnam. There are still places where trees won’t grow and fish won’t swim. And so, even as you see all the fancy new hotels and shopping malls going up in the country, all those new factories making t-shirts, shoes, food, and fashion, in some parts of Vietnam, you still have the legacy of the war embedded in the landscape.


Question: Your research took you to Vietnam where you studied a private business that seeks to treat the skin of Vietnamese women to improve their appearance and self-concept. Please escribe how this enterprise works and how the employees conceive of their mission.

Answer: The “spa” I studied—and I put that word in quotations because it was not so much a place of relaxation and pampering as we might assume, given our association with that term in the U.S.—was where women came for various kinds of treatments, from facials to massage. It was a place for making beauty. But, I soon learned that they also came there to attend to various skin conditions, some of which looked quite serious to my eyes and elsewhere would have warranted medical attention. The spa was, in other words, also place of care and healing. In the book, I consider the economics of this place. It is a business, so some people there are workers, others are clients; it is not a place of equality. But I came to see it as also a complex social world, where women shared knowledge and resources across certain divides, and where they took care of each other in the absence of other avenues for care.


Question: What did you discover were the cultural and psychological reasons Vietnam women would seek such treatment for their skin?

Answer: Women in Vietnam, like women most everywhere, have come to see clean, clear skin as a sign of health and beauty. So, in that sense there was nothing uniquely cultural about their desire to take care of their skin. But, for many of the women I met—working class women who had been exposed to various toxic materials in their work and who worried about how Agent Orange and other wartime chemicals could affect their health and the health of their children—there was an even greater impetus to be, or at least to look, clean. Because marks on their skin could be read not just as not beautiful, but as a sign of illness, they sought treatment when they could to reassure themselves and their families that they were healthy and whole.


Question: Much of the research on skin in the U S in the Vietnam War era was conducted by University of Pennsylvania scientist Albert Kligman in a Pennsylvania prison whose population was primarily African-Americans. What did Kligman and colleagues find out about the difference between black and white skin?  Did these findings impact on how the U.S. military employed soldiers in Vietnam?

Answer: Kligman’s experiments at the Holmesburg prison convinced him that black skin was stronger than white skin, that it was, in fact, resistant to irritation, damage, and harm. He was, of course, not the first physician to have suggested something like this. Since the early days of Western science, there have been theories about the hardiness of black bodies, made for work and insensitive to pain. But Kligman, who was working during the era of modern medicine, claimed to have generated experimentally sound research proving these biological differences. Kligman published extensively in medical journals, and trained hundreds of dermatologists. His treatments for conditions common in darker skin, such as hyperpigmentation, remain the standard in the field. His ideas about race have lingered. Today, many medical texts still suggest there are racial differences in pain reception, and many black patients report receiving lower dosage of pain medicines than their white counterparts because of the perception that they feel less pain.

Kligman, who was contracted to do research for the military, influenced the ways military physicians, especially those in the Military Dermatology Research Programs, saw black bodies. In the book, I ask if these idea also informed the ways U.S. military deployed black soldiers during the war. Black soldiers often took on the most dangerous jobs and positions, and died or became injured at a disproportionately higher rate than white soldiers. It is worth asking if the perception of black bodies as immune to pain and suffering actually helped to expose them to greater harm in Vietnam.   


Question: How did Kligman’s research also impact the commercial treatment of skin in ways that made him a rich man.

Answer: Kligman’s research on acne, which was partly funded by Dow Chemical (remember that Dow enlisted Kligman as a researcher because their workers were breaking out in chloracne, a severe form of acne, now recognized as a sign of dioxin poisoning), eventually led him to the discovery of tretinoin, a vitamin A derivative, used in the treatment of acne. When Kligman first began prescribing it, he noticed that it also erased fine lines in patients, because it forced cells to turn over quickly. So he and Johnson and Johnson rebranded it as the wildly popular anti-aging agent, Retin-a, still the closest thing we have to the fountain of youth. Lower concentrations of trentinoins , retinoids like retinols, are now also found in a wide-range of skincare products. Thus, Kligman’s discovery not only made him, Johnson and Johnson, an the University of Pennsylvania loads of money, it also transformed the entire cosmetics industry.


Question: In your research in Vietnam, you do case studies of Vietnam women and how appearance and skin are central to them, and among other things you show a connection between this and the legacy of the Vietnam War on Vietnamese skin and culture. You write, “there is a tendency to venerate ruin, to mourn loss by valorizing its remains.”  Those who “live in ruined landscapes” like the Vietnamese “women I met” end up bearing “a disproportionate effects of their risks and burdens.” How so?

Answer: I think there is a tendency for us to look at ruined landscapes—whether they be ancient archeological sites, or newly abandoned industrial areas—and mourn the loss of these places, often by waxing a bit nostalgic about the ways things were. This is a view that can only be had by a visitor to such a site, by someone who will leave it and accept that these places are gone. But for people who have to live in those sites of ruin—a war-torn village, a polluted town—the struggle is to live with and through all that destruction, to renovate and rebuild, not to leave them behind. For most Vietnamese people, unlike U.S. soldiers, there was no other home to return to after the war, no way to get off the battlefield, as it were. So even as they recognize the devastation, and grieve the losses, they have to also look forward to what is possible.


Question: You conclude that “Americans and Vietnamese alike have learned to accept a certain amount of toxicity in our daily lives … we are compelled to wonder about our own damaged landscapes… About our conviction that the damage we inflict, on ourselves and our world is endlessly reparable.”  You say that you hope that we “peer into some of these voids…and to find in the chasm not just our losses but our potential.”  This is a striking conclusion.  It must have been quite a process that led you to these realizations.

Answer: It was quite a process. What I learned in writing this book is that history, much like some of the chemicals I studied, is tenacious — it can’t be easily erased because the harm we inflict doesn’t always heal, can’t always be repaired. That doesn’t mean things are ruined forever, only that we will not always get a second or third chance to do-over. It was a hard lesson to learn, because there is such a strong narrative in this country about the necessity of destruction — we destroy things so we can rebuild them better, we poison some things so we can find a cure. Given what I learned from the history and present of the Vietnam War, I’m unconvinced by that narrative, even as I know that people have learned to survive and even thrive in face of tremendous loss. So, for me, it is both about recognizing how our past shapes our present and our future, making certain things possible and other things difficult to imagine, and also about remembering what we have been capable of, even in moments of great peril.


Thank you so much for your book and for addressing my questions.

3. Love: Transcultural Perspectives – Post-Symposium Essay

by Claude-Hélène Mayer and Elisabeth Vanderheiden

On August, 14th, 2022, Ken Fuchsman and Inna Rozentsvit invited us, Elisabeth Vanderheiden and Claude-Hélène Mayer, to hold a transcultural symposium with the title “Love: Transcultural Perspectives – A virtual symposium based on the International Handbook of Love publication.” The symposium was sponsored by the Object Relations Institute, International Psychohistorical Association, Clio’s Psyche, the Psychohistory Forum, and the ORI Academic Press.

The symposium included five invited presenters who are academics and professionals from various disciplinary backgrounds who all research phenomena of love in different cultural, social, philosophical, political and virtual contexts. All of the presentations were related to the international handbook of love which was published by Springer in 2021 and which contains 1147 pages. It is a state-of-the art work that includes  classical, modern and postmodern perspectives. The book expands on previous literature and explores topics around love from new cultural, intercultural and transcultural approaches and across disciplines.

Authors in the book provide insights into various love concepts, such as romantic love, agape, and eros in their cultural embeddedness, and their changes and developments in specific cultural contexts. It also includes discourse on postmodern aspects with regard to love and love relationships, such as digitalisation, globalisation and the fourth industrial revolution. The handbook covers a vast range of topics in relation to love: aging, health, special needs, sexual preferences, spiritual practice, subcultures, family and other relationships. The chapters look at love not only in terms of the universal concept and in private, intimate relationships, but apply a broad concept of the concept which can also, for example, be referred to in postmodern workplaces. The volume expands the boundaries of what we understand what love is. During the symposium, the speakers expanded these boundaries, too.

Claude-Hélène Mayer: Transcultural Romantic Love Relationships, Sense of Coherence and Identity Development

Claude gave a short introduction to the book and then presented a talk on transcultural romantic relationships, sense of coherence and identity development, showing a very strong connection between the three constructs. The empirical findings highlight that transcultural romantic love relationships are strongly based on specific relationship qualities, strong feelings, common actions, spirituality, and future orientation to overcome the potential cultural gaps. Further, the author highlights that there are clear interlinkages between transcultural romantic love experiences,  sense of coherence, and intercultural identity development, especially increasing identity awareness, actions, feelings and sexual sense of coherence. The findings presented showed further the importance of a highly reflective practice in transcultural romantic love relationships which helps intercultural couples to transform any cultural boundaries and hinderances.

William Jankowiak: The State of Ethnological Research on Love: A Critical Review

In his talk, William Jankowiak spoke about the three primary sociological lenses that arose for examining love in cultural and transcultural contexts: (1) The social- structural perspective that examines how features of a society’s organization and beliefs give rise to particular conceptions of love and how changes to social structures further transform expectations and experiences of love; (2) The bio-social theory of love which merges social structural perspectives on cross- cultural variation with evolutionary psychological and cognitive perspectives aimed at explaining why certain aspects of love are culturally universal; and (3) The critical perspective of love that highlights how cultural constructions of love and the social structures that formed them give rise to social inequalities. After synthesizing these three perspectives he explained how they have influenced the findings of the latest ethnographic and empirical studies of love and its cross-cultural variability and continuity.

Çiğdem Buğdaycı: Ashk: The Sufi Concept for Love

Çiğdem Buğdaycı discussed how the Islamic concept of love (Turkish ashk) has been omitted from the scholarship of love and philosophy. There are specialized studies of ashk; however, these deal only with the concept within the Islamic context, it has not been introduced into broader discussions of love. In Sufi cosmology, the world is created out of ashk and for the sake of ashk. Ashk transcends the division of sacred and profane. All beings are made of love and deserve care, compassion, and mercy. It is claimed here that the omission of ashk from general discussions of love has been ideological; the worldwide European cultural and economic expansion suppressed and ignored non-European elements. This author proposes to position ashk next to eros and agapē as a missing link in the Platonic heritage. The particularity of Sufi ashk, and its parallels and disparities with eros were examined during her talk.

Aaron Ben-Ze’ev : Cyberspace: The Alternative Romantic Culture

A very dynamic discussion came up during the presentation of Aaron Ben-Ze’ev who spoke on cyberspace providing an alternative culture to one’s actual romantic setting. Thereby, cyberspace enables participants to explore exciting romantic options without bearing significant costs in terms of resources and efforts, and without necessarily violating significant personal commitments. The new romantic culture, in which cyberspace has a prominent role, is both seductive and sustainable, according to Ben Ze’ev. Two major contributions of cyberspace to the romantic realm are facilitating finding a willing romantic partner, and creating more types of romantic relationships. A major impact of cyberspace is making romantic relations more complex, diverse and flexible, and at the same time briefer and more superficial. The normative impact of cyberspace on the romantic culture is discussed, indicating the increasing violations of values and boundaries in romantic behavior. The presenter concluded that a combination of offline and online interactions can be very fruitful for cultivating the romantic realm.

Elisabeth Vanderheiden: “A Matter of Age?” Love Relationships Between Older Women and Younger Men: The So-called “Cougar” Phenomenon

Controversial discussions also arose during the subsequent presentation by Elisabeth Vanderheiden on the topic of love relationships between younger men and older women. This is a research topic that is significantly less well researched than the corresponding relationship of younger women to older men. At the same time, public interest in such relationships is growing, evidenced by interest in celebrity relationships such as those of the French President Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron, with a corresponding mainstream media. In public discussion, the older women in such relationships are often labelled as “cougars.” The slang term “cougar” is often used to label older females who seek a relationship (or relationships) with younger males (The Oxford British and World English Dictionary, 2012). and the younger men as “toy-boys” or “cubs.” This chapter focuses on the impact that age difference has on relationships, the issues that arise for the partners, and which opinions and prejudices they have to face. In this chapter, relevant current research results are presented and discussed. In particular, possible significant factors such as gender and culture are considered in detail.

Love is a topic many people across cultures are interested in and usually emotions are high when discussed. In its diversity and its relevance for people, love will certainly remain an extremely worthwhile object of research in the future.


Claude-Hélène Mayer is a Professor in Industrial and Organisational Psychology at the Department of Industrial Psychology and People Management at the University of Johannesburg, an Adjunct Professor at the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder), Germany. She holds Master degrees, in Psychology, Crime Science, Investigation and Intelligence and Cultural Anthropology and PhDs in Psychology, Management and Cultural Anthropology. Her Venia Legendi is in Psychology with focus on work, organizational, and cultural psychology (Europa Universität Viadrina, Germany). Her research areas are transcultural mental health and well-being, salutogenesis, transforming shame, transcultural conflict management and mediation, women in leadership in culturally diverse work contexts, love and psychobiography.

Elisabeth Vanderheiden is a pedagogue, theologian, intercultural mediator, managing director of the Catholic Adult Education Rhineland-Palatinate, the President of the Catholic Adult Education of Germany and the CEO of the Global Institute for Transcultural Research. Her publishing focus is on the context of basic education for adults, in particular on trainings for teachers and trainers in adult education, as well as vocational, and civic education, edited books on intercultural opening processes and intercultural mediation. Her latest publications focused on shame as resource as well as mistakes, errors and failure and their hidden potentials in the context of culture and positive psychology. She also works as an independent researcher. In a current project she is investigating life crises and their individual coping strategies from different cultural viewpoints. A topic that has also aroused her research interest is humour and how it appears in different cultural perspectives and from various scientific disciplines.

4. Robert Jay Lifton’s The Protean Self

By Ken Fuchsman

Robert Jay Lifton at age 96 has long been one of the pioneers of the psychohistory movement of the 1960s and beyond. In the last five years, his “Our Witness to Malignant Normality” was the Forward to Bandy Lee’s 2017 bestseller The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump. His Losing Reality: On Cults, Cultism, and the Mindset of Political and Religious Zealotry was published in 2019. A virtual roundtable discussion on his 1993 The Protean Self will be held on Sunday, September 25th as part of a two-day online conference on Psychoanalysis and the Public Sphere: Politics of Identity organized by the Free Associations Journal in partnership with the London Freud Museum. The title of the session on Lifton’s book is Protean Man and Neoliberal Society.  The discussants will be Marilyn Charles, Lynne Layton, Samir Gandesha, Rye Holmboe, and Michael Rustin. More information on the conference can be found in the Bulletin Board section of this issue. The article below will discuss the various stages of Lifton’s conception of the protean self. He has been formulating and reformulating this conception for half a century, from 1968 to 2019. It is one of the more recurring of his themes.

“Protean Man” was the title given to Lifton’s 1968 article in the Partisan Review. It was reprinted as “Self” in Lifton’s 1971 book, Boundaries: Psychological Man in Revolution. He also has more to say about being protean in “The New History” chapter that concludes Boundaries.

Lifton is writing in the midst of the 1960s cultural and intellectual explosion. He makes references to the student movement and uses as foils prominent sixties figures philosopher Herbert Marcuse and classicist Norman O. Brown. Like Lifton, these two sixties thinkers use psychoanalysis as a jumping off point.  Lifton owes as much to Erik Erikson as to Freud.  In “Protean Man” Lifton shows his indebtedness to Erikson, and where he takes off in his own direction.

He quickly acknowledges that his approach takes off from psychoanalysis but has what Lifton calls “a formative perspective” rather than a “purely analytic” one. Like Erikson, he focuses on identity within a historical framework.  For “change and flux” characterize not only external reality “but our inner experience.” Our “shared history” is resulting in an emerging “new style of self-process.” For the “Protean style” consists of “an interminable series of experiments and explorations…each of which can readily be abandoned in favor of still new, psychological quests.” Lifton recognizes that this resembles what Erikson called identity diffusion. To Lifton, there is nothing “pathological” in this new sensibility. “Protean man” hungers “for ideas and feelings that can give coherence to his world.” For there “is flux in emotions and beliefs” in this sense of self. This flux is connected to the “breakdown of traditional institutions.” This has led many Proteans to a vacillation between “Utopian imagery” and “massive disillusionment” as well as experiencing “vague constellations of anxiety and resentment.”

To Lifton there are “two paths to symbolic immortality.” One is a natural mode of pleasure and the other includes transcendence, expanded consciousness, and a “community high.” To Lifton being a Protean person is not confined to the young, but “inhabits us all.” He writes that “the direction of Protean man’s prophecy lies in new, fluid, threatening, liberating, confusing, and revitalizing personal boundaries.” To him, the Protean sensibility is a “style of revolutionary behavior” that attempts to “mobilize twentieth-century fluidity as a weapon against … stagnation.” As well, Lifton sees the “Protean style of multiple identifications” and “shifting beliefs” as extending “both individual-psychological and political boundaries.”

Lifton both embraces and recognizes dilemmas in this ever changing, adapting, seeking Protean self.  While he uses “man” in 1968, later he changes his term to “self,” which is more inclusive and less sexist. Lifton in Boundaries also wants to distinguish his view of liberation from the critique of Marcuse and the enthusiasm of Norman O. Brown. Both writers fit into what Paul Robinson called the Freudian left. Marcuse had written a book in 1955 taking off from Freud called Eros and Civilization and then One Dimensional Man in 1964. Lifton only addresses the second book.  He finds that Marcuse confuses the imperatives of advanced industrial society with “inner psychological experience.” Lifton sees more choices and liberation than Marcuse did in 1964, and Marcuse makes modern culture more static and less creative than it is.

He singles out Norman O. Brown who in 1959 published Life against Death: The Psychoanalytic Meaning of History, and his Love’s Body appeared in 1966. To Lifton, Brown wanted to eliminate all boundaries which to Lifton “collapses into a pseudo-instinctualism.” Brown to him stresses an experiential transcendence in ways that are “related to the impairment of alternative modes of symbolic immortality” and “in which boundaries of the self are felt to be eliminated.”  Lifton adheres to a sense of identity however Protean, which he thinks Brown wishes to eliminate. Brown is assessed not as advancing but retarding the liberating promise of the Protean self.

In his The Life of the Self, which came out in 1976 and then by Basic Books in 1983, Lifton in a chapter entitled “Forms of Revitalization” revisits the Protean self. He writes, of “a Protean psychological style of flux and flow of the self … in an interminable series of experiments and exploration of varying depth” which may be left aside and transferred to “anther psychological quest.” This “Protean process” is a consequence of the “convergence of history and evolution.  It is “that of a survivor of technological and cultural holocausts…that hover around us.” Proteanism is a response to the feelings of “disintegration and loss” that “permeate contemporary life.” These contemporary holocausts, this psychohistorical reality can be transformative. “Death and loss can occasion profound research, re-creation, and renewal.”  This passage seems in part to echo Aeschylus in the Libation Bearers, “He who learns must suffer … and in our own despair, against our will comes wisdom.”

For Lifton, it is through flux and revision that renewal can appear in the face of the holocausts and disruptions of modern culture, of becoming unmoored from traditional certainties.  “Transformation is achieved,” Lifton writes, only after “the genuine inner contact leading to confrontation, reordering, and renewal.” Again, ‘the Protean experimenter must call forth dark areas of the psyche, demonic imagery of destruction and suffering.” These dark forces are reflective of “personal dislocation and energize the renewal.” It is not only flux and experiments that lead to the land of promise, but experiencing the dark night of the soul and then coming out the other side. To Lifton, “genuine transformation requires that we ‘experience’ our annihilation in order to prevent it” and make possible “our long-range possibilities for renewal.” For the protean task “is the re-creation of the adult self.”

A quarter century after his first publication on the subject, in 1993 Lifton’s The Protean Self: Human Resilience in an Age of Fragmentation appeared. He writes about how this concept originated. He first noticed the phenomenon in the mid-1950s while interviewing Chinese who had gone through thought reform, then in Japanese students in the 1960s, and adding to it was his study of young American professionals in the 1970s. To him, proteanism is “a sense of self appropriate to the restlessness and flux of our time.” For it enables engaging in “continuous exploration and personal experiment… We change ideas and partners frequently, and do the same with jobs and places of residence.” Yet despite all these patterns, “the self turns out to be surprisingly resilient.” We have evolved a “self of many possibilities.”

How so?  “Idea systems can be embraced, modified, let go, and re-embraced.” All “with a new ease.” This proteanism comes with three characteristics: sequential, simultaneous, and social.  The protean individual wishes to be “both fluid and grounded.” It is a “balancing act.”

Lifton frequently mentions the combination of a stable self with an easeful alteration of ideas and commitments. He asserts that this transpires without “the inner struggle people in the past endured with such shifts.” In The Protean Self, he does not quite explain what enables the balancing act of the protean self to remain stable, nor does he much elaborate on how the regular alterations in commitment to concepts, romantic entanglements, and career paths are intellectually and emotionally processed. His declaration in 1993 of a new easefulness is in contrast with his 1976 emphasis on disintegration and loss, and how the inner confrontation with contemporary holocausts can generate “profound research” and “renewal.” Lifton’s assertion of the ease of transition from one commitment or belief to another also diverges somewhat from his statements in The Protean Self on “how certain vicissitudes having to do with loss” may well “be painful but are at the same time necessary to the protean self.”

Nevertheless, for Lifton, the Protean self presents “an alternative to violence.” For certain “manifestations of proteanism are … necessary for the human future.” This is the case because the Protean self “presses toward human commonality,” in contrast the “absolute moral” outlooks “favored by fundamentalism.” In our time, there is a “continuous quest” toward “integrative proteanism.” This entails developing notions “that are both “enduring and energizing.” To Lifton, this is not “a contradiction in terms.” For ultimately despite being in the midst “of flux, the protean self seeks connections that last.” As well, the protean person “seeks ethical commitment.” This is because lasting commitments can lead an individual “to larger human connections or symbolic immortality.” While being “decentralized,” there is also an unattainable hunting for “the unity of consciousness.”

The protean path can contain dangers. One of which to Lifton is diffusion and a “sense of loss, leaving one vulnerable to withdrawal, apathy, and depression.”  It can lead to the self being in “disarray” and “result in fragmentation.” To Lifton, “Maintaining a concept of self is crucial for grasping contemporary duress, as well as for” getting “beyond it.” It appears that to Lifton finding ethical commitments, a sense of human commonality, and what is enduring and energizing is a way for the protean self to avoid disarray and fragmentation of the self. If this latter is the remedy, how does finding what is enduring and involves commitments fit in with the flux of ideas, partnerships, and career choices in the protean self?

Despite all this, Lifton again asserts that proteanism is a period of “fragmentation and trauma” may well lead to “species belonging,” which is “our species self” in accord with “a principle of commonality.” To get to “species awareness” requires “empathy for trauma and suffering.”   With this empathic species awareness, “communities” may evolve into “fluid groups interconnecting throughout the globe.” In this time “of considerable fragmentation,” resilience and connection can emerge as expressions of “life-enhancing…resilience.” A “reaching toward global belonging” can be “a path of hope… and even a modest personal liberation.” Resilience, renewal, hope, liberation and empathic species awareness is what Lifton maintains can be where the Protean self can lead humanity.  It is a highly optimistic ending.

In his 2011 memoirs, Lifton looks back on The Protean Self.  He recalls an exchange with his good friend, the distinguished sociologist David Reisman, who said to Lifton, “Bob….You’re a dedicated scholar, consistent in your work habits and in your development of ideas, you have a long marriage and a regular family life – so where’s the proteanism?” Lifton responded, “it’s in my imagination.” Lifton soon thereafter writes that to “carry through one’s proteanism, to maintain a grounded imagination, one requires a certain core of stability within the self.” He says that Freud was an orderly creature of habit. “Rather than conflict with his more fluid imagination, that orderliness and conventionality helped make it possible.”

He also recounts that once his daughter Natasha said, “Dad, have you ever considered taking up more cheerful subjects.” His internal response was that he finally had and though “proteanism was not always joyous” in its focus on “resilience and potential change” it moved in that direction. For Lifton “long viewed proteanism as a kind of rescue operation for the self: a way of adapting to and sustaining imaginative thought amid the chaos of historical change and avoiding the attractions of fundamentalism.”   

Personally, Lifton knew that in relation to his mentor Erik Erikson the long developing ideas on proteanism were “a critique, however respectful, of his more structured identity requirement.”  Erikson for a while dropped hints about his reservations about Lifton’s notions, though it did not impact on their close friendship.  A few years after the 1993 publication, Lifton was visiting Erikson in the latter’s Tiburon, California home. The mentor said to the former student, “Bob, I’ve been assigning your work on protean man to my students. I think it’s one of the best things you’ve done.” Stunned, Lifton said “I felt like embracing him on the spot,” but did not.  Clearly, this praise meant a great deal to Bob.

Lifton’s 2019 Losing Reality: On Cults, Cultism, and the Mindset of Political and religious Zealotry is only marginally about the Protean self. The book is mostly a selection from his earlier books. Much of it is focused on totalism, which Lifton shows as a dogmatic attempt to control the flux and diversity of experience through a rigid, often, authoritarian even totalitarian world view. If major contemporary ideological choices for Lifton are between inflexible totalism, psychological numbing, and changeable proteanism, Lifton presents proteanism as a renewing, viable option.

He writes in a new commentary that “we seem to be wired for potential expression of either proteanism or cultism… Cultism narrows the symbolizing function of the self … cultism interferes with the profound connection between self and history. Proteanism, in contrast, seeks to restore the self’s broader symbolizing function… Proteanism … can help us to stem the cultist loss of reality and reassert an openness to the world.” To Lifton, there are hopes and pitfalls, and proteanism to him is the most likely path to renewal and species awareness.

5. Invitation to the International Journal of Controversial Discussions

by Arnold Richards

The International Journal of Controversial Discussions was founded in 2020, more than a year and a half ago. The Journal considers a broad array of subjects of interest to mental health professionals from varying points of view by experts in their field.

As expressed in our mission statement, the Journal is independent and not affiliated with any particular national or international organization. Our Editorial Board of distinguished scholars and clinicians includes former editors of other psychoanalytic journals. The IJCD model of peer review is unique in that published papers are responded to publicly by discussants with similar interests and their own perspectives. The author is then given the opportunity to respond as well. The ICDJ does not have a theoretical or ideological bias and casts a wide net with contributions from many disciplines and geographical locations

For 10 years, I had been the Editor of the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association and that experience as well as other personal experiences with other journals made me aware of the need for a journal like this one. It is open access and free by subscription, and it is not peer-reviewed in a conventional sense. Over the years, I have had a problem with the peer-review process of the traditional journals because what occurs is that the submitted papers are typically sent to three peer reviewers who respond with criticisms and suggestions, but often based on their own biases and interests rather than a sense of what is good for the field and the audience. The editor sometimes will send these reviews to the author, but more often will just excerpt them with the decision about publication.

The novel approach to this new journal is what I call internal peer review. The papers which are accepted are then sent to other individuals who are authorities, experts in the field, to present their views on the paper. So the Journal then becomes a platform for conversation and discussion. That is why the emphasis is on controversial matters. We have published five issues so far for last year, and all of them have been re-printed as books. One recently came out on boundary violations, which will also become a book. We now have almost 1000 subscribers. One of the several advantages of this format is that we have no limits to the length of the papers, and once an issue is out, we have the ability to add more comments and further contributions on the topic which the target paper is concerned with. I believe this format in journal publishing is the wave of the future, which is an approach that leads to published issues that are more accessible to both reader and contributor.

As mentioned, that latest issue, edited by Howard Levine, concerns boundaries and boundary crossing and violations. One can download this issue or read it online:

Interested readers can subscribe to our journal by visiting the website:

6. Steven Pinker Revisited: Are Our Angels of a Better Nature?

by Ken Fuchsman

Psychologist Steven Pinker’s 2011 The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined is a work of psychohistory that has generated an enormous response since its initial publication.  The last psychohistory work that attained this degree of influence was historian Christopher Lasch’s 1979 The Culture of Narcissism. Before that in 1969, psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton’s psychohistorical Death in Life won a National Book Award. Historian Richard Hofstadter’s 1964 “The Paranoid Style in American Politics” initially made a big splash. In recent years the phrase paranoid style has resurged and become a prominent part of our current political lexicon.

Given the long gap between Lasch and Pinker, it was little noticed that Pinker’s book was psychohistorical. It was so in that it connected a psychological perspective with extensive historical research from the Pleistocene to the 21st century. Pinker proposes a psychology of enlightenment and renewal and combines it with a historical analysis of how this psychological outlook has impacted the course of history. The breadth of Pinker’s brilliant research is dazzling. His thesis that our better angels are producing a decline in lethal violence has been both affirmed and challenged.

Pinker had borrowed historian John Lewis’s Gaddis phrase the Long Peace for his own purposes.  The historian’s term referred to the lack of armed conflict after World War II between the two major antagonists, the U. S. and the U.S.S.R. The 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine was the first significant war between European powers since the close of World War II. Soon after the invasion, Pinker in March 2022, wrote about whether or not the Russia-Ukraine War was or was not putting an end to the Long Peace. He said it was too soon to make a conclusion.

This ongoing current European brutal war and Pinker’s response renews the controversies that have surrounded his better angels thesis since it first was proposed. What is striking is how much research in a variety of academic fields has been generated in response to what Pinker initially said. One intent of this article is to inform readers of these scholarly research findings that have been generated some before and some since Pinker’s book on the decline of violence.

Pinker claims there is a decline of killing in war.  Much of this he writes is due to an alteration in psychological outlook in developed countries and is evident in the twentieth century.  In relationship to the 1900s, Pinker maintains that “the enduring moral trend of the century was a violence-averse humanism that originated in the Enlightenment, became overshadowed by counter-Enlightenment ideologies…of growing destructive power and regained momentum in the wake of World War II.” He finds that after World War II, “the world entered the period that has been called the Long Peace.”

These quotes are indications of Pinker’s hopeful optimism. To some, this bright sensibility is odd when applied to the destructive weaponry and dark terrors of combat. Yet if Pinker’s declaration that the deadliness of war is declining is accurate, this would certainly be cause for cheer. The question is what is the strength of the evidence and concepts Pinker brings to his ambitious project.

In war, his standard of judgement is the percentage of deaths due to war and related phenomenon. Matthew White is an independent researcher for whose book Pinker wrote an admiring introduction. White finds that in the eighteenth century 0.6% of all deaths were due to war, genocide or tyranny; in the nineteenth century it was 2%. He asserts that “around 3.5 percent of all deaths in the twentieth century were caused by war, genocide, or tyranny.”

“The 20th century,” writes distinguished historian Eric Hobsbawm, “was the most murderous in recorded history. The total number of deaths caused by or associated with its wars has been estimated at 187m, the equivalent of more than 10% of the world’s population in 1913.” Historian David Christian: “In the twentieth century, war deaths” were “almost three times the sum of all deaths in the preceding 1,900 years.”

Matthew White lists the 100 worst atrocities in history from before the common era to the early 21st century.  Thirty-two took place in the 1900s, twenty-five of these worst atrocities in history began between 1945 and 1999. Political scientist Philip Spencer reports that there were also twelve genocides that started in the Cold War era between 1963 and 1988 and that killed about 14 million. Where in all these figures is evidence that violence-averse humanism was a twentieth century enduring moral trend?

In 1945 following the surrender of Germany and Japan, the rates of death were more than likely to be reduced. Pinker’s claim is that war deaths declined after 1945 is surely correct.  Two separate sets of information are pertinent to this finding. First, the U.N. reports that the combat related deaths in the thirty-seven years following World War I were on an “average yearly basis … more than double the deaths in the 19th century, and seven times greater than in the 18th century.”

Second, while Pinker claims the Long Peace is an indicator of moral and psychological progress, not all researchers confirm this conclusion. In 2019, political scientist Bear Braumoeller wrote that “the seventy years of peace that have passed since the end of World War II are hardly anomalous.” In looking at wars over 250 years, the data show that the most frequent occurrence is “the absence of war” over “nearly fifty years.” The probability of having seventy continuous years without war Braumoeller reports “is 24.3%. In other words, the Long Peace is only slightly less likely to have happened by chance than the two World Wars.”

University of Colorado computer scientist Aaron Clauset has similar findings. He writes, “that periods like the long peace are a statistically common occurrence… The long peace pattern would need to endure for at least another 100 to 150 years before it could plausibly be called a genuine trend… These results imply that the current peace may be substantially more fragile than proponents believe.”

There is historical confirmation for Pinker’s factual claim that war deaths declined after World War II and that there was a European absence of war between 1945 and 2011. But some scholars think what Pinker failed to do is sufficiently place his findings in a comparative historical context, and that his claims are extravagant.

There has been a historically significant decline in war deaths, but it happened not directly after 1945, but in 1991 and after. Max Roser writes, “In some years in the early post-war era, around half a million people died through direct violence in wars; in contrast, in 2016 the number of all battle-related deaths in conflicts involving at least one state was 87,432.”   Andrew Mack in 2007 reports that the “incidence of violent conflict has fallen rapidly following the end of the Cold War; falling by some 40% between 1992 and 2005.” As well, wars “have become less deadly. The average number of battle deaths per conflict per year was 38,000 in 1950 and 700 in 2005 – a 98% decrease.”

How historically can we understand this rapid decline? Some do so by looking at the power dynamics within the international power system. Since the 16th century there have been three such periods: a multipolar system where there are at least three major competing powers, a bipolar system with two highly powerful nations, and a unipolar system, where one country is dominant. The frequency and deadliness of wars historically is not completely separable from the character of the international system.

First, from the multipolar to the unipolar system. “In the past five hundred years alone,” writes political scientist Michael Beckley, “there have been sixteen hegemonic rivalries between a ruling power and a rising power, and twelve of them ended in catastrophic wars.”  These competitions have occurred on average every thirty years.

Beckley also reports that between 1400 and 1991, for every 100,000 people war deaths averaged between 5 and 10 deaths.  During significant wars that jumped to 200 deaths per 100,000.  But after the collapse of the Soviet Union, from 1991 to 2018, war deaths fell to 0.5 deaths per 100,000.

The number of war deaths in the multipolar era from the sixteenth to the mid-twentieth century was greater than the deaths in war during the Cold War period.  As well, the number of war deaths in the bipolar Cold War Era far exceeds that following the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991. There is a correlation. The fewer the number of major world powers the lower have been the number of wartime deaths. The state of the international power system is an important factor to include when discussing the state of war on this planet.

In 2014, Yale political scientist Nuno Monteiro declared that since the demise of the Soviet Union, “the United States has enjoyed unparalleled power in the international system.” In 1991, the world moved to a unipolar power system.  Yale historian Paul Kennedy, author of The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, in 2002 declared that in this period the United States is “the greatest superpower ever.” Kennedy finds that “Nothing has ever existed like this disparity of power; nothing.”

During the first unipolar period in modern times deaths in war dropped to historic lows.  Pinker’s assertion, “We are living in the safest time in history” is accurate for the unipolar era, but not for the Cold War between 1945 and 1991.

When The Better Angels of Our Nature appeared, it was both praised to the skies and criticized. Among those lauding Pinker’s achievement were prominent scholars from a wide array of fields. Among those who were renowned in their disciplines and highly positive were USC anthropologist Christopher Boehm, legendary political scientist James Q. Wilson, noted philosopher Peter Singer, and psychologist Michael Shermer, among many others. In this litany, notably absent was praise from well-regarded historians.

In 2018, the highly regarded Historical Reflections devoted an entire issue of their journal to twelve articles by historians on Pinker’s 2011 volume. The issue editors were historians Mark Micale and Philip Dwyer. They criticized Pinker’s work for its “failure to genuinely engage with historical methodologies; the unquestioning use of dubious sources; the tendency to exaggerate the violence of the past in order to contrast it with the supposed peacefulness of the modern era; the creation of a number of straw men, which Pinker then goes on to debunk; and it’s extraordinarily Western-centric, not to say Whiggish, view of the world.” As a psychohistorical work, these historians consider Pinker’s book to not conform to professional, historical standards of scholarship.

Every individual and each academic specialty have demons and dilemmas. The test of each field and person is to recognize, confront, and deal with their problems. Steven Pinker in his 2011 publication made affirmations of facts that were not sufficiently located in a historical context. Still, Dr. Pinker’s work has been provocative and stimulated much valuable discussion,

While this article focuses on Steven Pinker’s most psychohistorical work, the evolution of his publishing career had been remarkable. He began by writing popular books on language and the mind, then his writings took a turn. Starting with 2003’s The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature and continuing through 2021’s Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters Pinker continues to expand the scope of his endeavors.

He is that rarity, an accomplished if flawed public intellectual. Over time he has become even more of an intellectual adventurer. His work is provocative, polemical, and maddingly stimulating. As Micale and Dwyer point out, Pinker attacks straw men. But he brings prodigious research into any of his projects, and that can induce engagement with his work no matter how ahistorical his polemics remain. A valuable gadfly. His efforts generate not only praise and criticism but new research and findings. I only wish his plunging into psychohistory was better on the historical side of the ledger. Still, Pinker has earned his place as an invaluable stimulator of dialogue and scholarship.

7. Virtual Psychohistory Course this Fall:
Introduction to Psychohistory  for Mental Health Professionals and the Curious

by Paul H. Elovitz


Thousands of students have taken psychohistory courses, which abounded in the late seventies and early eighties. Now, for the first time (to the best of my knowledge), a general psychohistory course is specifically being offered to academics, clinicians, graduate students, historians, political psychologists, psychoanalysts, and interested laypeople. While it is being offered as a Zoom course on five Sunday mornings through the auspices of the Objection Relations Institute for Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis (ORI) and the Psychohistory Forum, it is open to all who want to probe the conscious and unconscious inner life of individuals and groups in society. Below I will give you a quick overview of what is covered and then move on to my vision of psychohistory.

Childhood, conflict, coping mechanisms, creativity, interpersonal relations, parental messaging, personality development, trauma, and unconscious motivations are central areas of concern in this postgraduate course. Just as the psychoanalyst examines the day residue of the patient or client, the psychohistorian starts with primary sources on the subject while listening for signs of the unconscious revealing early cathexis and trauma.  Neither lead with theory but instead keep the possibilities in mind made conceivable by a vast clinical and psychohistorical literature.  The emotion and life patterns of the subject are what draw the most probing questions.  With living people, the possibilities that are raised can be reinforced or rejected more readily than with historical personages.  Empathetic listening to the evidence and the mechanisms of defense are invaluable instruments in deepening our knowledge of lives and society. Dreams, the parapraxis, and countertransference are crucial tools of the psychobiographer who must be a diligent researcher. This course will help clinicians to understand intergenerational elements impacting your patients. There will be an emphasis on psychoanalytic and psychohistorical research methodology. The class will be taught with a focus on case studies of a variety of influential individuals. Writing a psychohistorical article is optional but encouraged and class discussion is an important part of the course.

My vision is that at the end of this psychohistory course, its participants will be able to:

  • Analyze and apply the basic principles of psychohistory.
  • Provide insights to clinicians that will assist them in treating their patients/clients.
  • Enrich the knowledge of the course participants regarding unconscious and subliminal aspects of our society and world.
  • Learning to listen more carefully to unconscious communication from patients, colleagues, politicians, and the media.
  • Apply what’s been learned to write a psychohistory/psychobiography at some point in their career if desired.
  • Learn to listen to primary sources (autobiographies, diaries, memoirs, government documents, contemporary references by associates, etc.) first and more carefully than secondary sources.
  • Analyze these primary sources chronologically to the extent that the sources will allow to get a sense of the personality and veracity of the subject.
  • Learn to follow and probe the strong emotions encountered with patients, colleagues, and in society.
  • Search for first experiences with patients and in dealing with problems because these may help you to understand how both the individual and society resolves issues.
  • Use the countertransference to the subject as a vital tool as the analyst does with the patient. (For example, when I several times typed Al Bore rather than Al Gore, I listened for the message as an analyst I did for my patients. Similarly, when I dreamt I was Jimmy Carter’s analyst, I learned some more about my countertransference as well as the fact that I thought he could use an analyst.)
  • Write about the subject with empathy even if it is difficult because of preconceived feelings and thoughts.
  • Write with empathy or consider not critiquing a disliked subject, for emotional, moral, and political reasons. (As a presidential psychobiographer, I do not have this luxury, but I have successfully found ways to teach about Hitler for over four decades despite his being responsible for killing the majority of my family that did not escape from Poland and Ukraine.)
  • Analyze your subject with openness. Avoid psychopathologizing.  and use the special insights, techniques, and knowledge learned in psychoanalytic training as an instrument of empathy and insight rather than as a way of feeling superior to the subject.
  • List all you know regarding the childhood (where possible), especially if there are strong negative feelings regarding the subject. (For example, in writing and teaching about Hitler and Nixon I could not easily find ways to empathize with the adult, but I could feel for them as children.)
  • Assess secondary sources (biographies, dictionaries, newspaper, textbooks) and compare and contrast them with primary sources.
  • Write about and explain the origins of the unconscious motivations of the subject.
  • Assess indications of repetition compulsion in the life of the individual being researched.
  • Critique of patterns of transgenerational transmission of behavior and trauma as has been well-documented in the families of Holocaust survivors.
  • Analyze the difference between what the subject says and does. Therapists need to be especially careful about when they choose to use this principle based upon where you are in treatment and the character structure of the subject.
  • Discuss the interpersonal relations of the subject.
  • Be attune to the day, night dreams, and fantasies of your subject(s), including societal fantasies.
  • Compile and assess while immersed in researching the psychohistorian’s relevant day and night dreams. (When I dreamt before his election that our 45th President was a student in my genocide class who was trying to cheat and I would not let him, I knew I had to break my four decades long tradition of not telling my students or readers my presidential preference.)
  • If this is a major project, the psychohistorian’s significant others may be noting or complaining that too much time is being spent emotionally away from them. (A wonderful Charles Darwin psychobiographer dedicated his last book to his wife and daughters who lived with him, “while I lived with Charles Darwin.”) This is an indication of a strong identification with the project, which can be both positive and negative in terms of what you right and your interpersonal relations.
  • Use theory while not leading with it. Before completing the research, consider what psychoanalytic theories provide the most insight. (While in a case presentation seminar during my psychoanalytic training, it was revealing that each of the five analytic candidates had somewhat different theoretical notions as to the most relevant diagnosis.)
  • Utilize clear non-technical language readily available to the layperson.
  • Use your me as a resource for publication should you choose to write a psychohistory. Consider submitting it to the refereed journal Clio’s Psyche that I  edit, or another one that I can recommend.
  • Demonstrate to colleagues the invaluable insights of psychohistorical methodologies and psychoanalytic training applied to the world around us.

As mentioned above, this course is organized in five three-hour Sunday morning Zoom sessions. It shows the enormous value of psychohistory as a three-dimensional study of lives. Below I will describe some of the main subjects, issues, and questions covered in each class.  Note that while this course is related to clinical work and psychoanalysis, people from all backgrounds and occupations are welcome.

The introductory class focuses on searching for the unconscious in all its manifestations, and as Freud said, making it conscious. The art of listening is described in detail. The issues of empathy and what constitutes good and bad parenting are examined, as is the difference between the high ideals of childhood advocates Alice Miller and Lloyd deMause and their realities. I will provide materials from his forthcoming book Doing Psychohistory and explain why he is writing it.

The second class focuses on listening to the unconscious and developing a methodology for probing it.  These points are especially applicable to the clinician and those aspiring to become therapists.  Some basic principles of psychoanalysis and how they apply to psychohistory are explored. Special attention is devoted to the mechanisms of defense that Anna and Sigmund Freud cast so much light upon.  Freud’s insights and limitations will be looked at. Psychohistory as a bottom-up rather than top-down process will be explained: As in clinical work, the focus is on the patient, not the theory.  Primary sources are invaluable and secondary sources are necessary. The tensions between the high ideals and realities of George Washington, Mary Wollstonecraft, Thomas Jefferson, JFK, and others will be examined.

The third class is devoted to doing psychobiography, a subject I taught a class on earlier this year.  Psychobiographers are like psychoanalysts in that they dig deeper into the lives of their subjects.  In Freud’s Circle, psychobiography has its early roots. As a political psychobiographer, I will probe the idealization and denigration of good, bad, and destructive leaders as he explains the complexities of the relationship between the leader and the led. In this discussion class, the students will have the choice of having a focus on some of the following: Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, Putin, Lincoln, JFK, Nixon, LBJ, and the Clintons. An important question is how most hot issues of the day give way to the next strong concern and are put aside rather than resolved. This is true in both the therapy room and in politics. Attendees will have the opportunity to present some of their own research as well.

War, peace, conflict resolution, and why people search for the “other” are at the heart of the fourth class.  It starts with the question of just how easy it is for civilized humans to kill another human being, delving into insufficiently known literature on inhibitions on killing from the study of soldiers in warfare. When it comes to killing, fantasy and reality clash, with television and the news focused on violence. The relationship between suicide and homicide is explored in the gun-obsessed U.S., as is the motivation of mass shooters and terrorists. The psychological appeals of war are enormous and the diplomacy of peace breaks down often for complex reasons. The extent to which truth and reconciliation commissions enable former combatants to face the pain of atrocity and killing without continuing the historical cycle of violence is examined.

This course concludes with its fifth class, which examines how technological changes have stressed our politics and society. Today celebrity is confused with achievement; democracy is threatened by information transmitted through separate echo chambers with there being very little real exchange of views and bipartisan governance. I discuss the easy temptation to psychopathologized hated leaders and instead advocates for a psychohistory based on childhood, creativity, empathy, innovation, personality, and overcoming trauma. He advocates for a greater role for women in all aspects of life, including psychohistory. The bright future of psychohistory is discussed. Finally, he encourages everyone to write their own autobiography and perhaps become a contributor to his next edited book, Autobiographies and Psychobiographies of Psychobiographers. To register for this course, visit

8. Leadership and Psychoanalysis:
An Account of Maccoby and Cortina’s Recent Co-Edited Book

by Ken Fuchsman

Leadership, Psychoanalysis, and Society is a valuable and thought-provoking book co-edited by Michael Maccoby and Mauricio Cortina and published this year by Routledge. Dr. Maccoby co-authored with Erich Fromm in 1970 Social Character in a Mexican Village. His own The Gamesman – The New Corporate Leaders made the New York Times best seller list in 1976.  Maccoby is known for his books on leadership and also on productive narcissists as leaders.  In a ghost-written book, Donald Trump quoted Maccoby on narcissism. Maccoby later followed this citation up by co-editing a 2020 book on Donald Trump’s leadership.  This current 2022 book is clearly in the tradition of his work on leadership from a psychoanalytic framework.

Psychiatrist Mauricio Cortina has previously collaborated with Dr. Maccoby as co-editors of A Prophetic Analyst: The Contributions of Erich Fromm to Psychoanalysis. Dr. Cortina in 2019 was awarded the Bowlby Ainsworth Award for his contributions to attachment research.  He has co-edited Attachment Theory and the Psychoanalytic Process; and last year his Frontiers of Clinical Practice (The Cooperative Bond): The New Science of Prosocial Motivations and Intersubjective Experience was published by Routledge.

This current co-edited book has notable contributions from business practitioners, professors of organizational behavior, social work academics, and two contributors associated with Rutgers, one Charles Heckscher is a Distinguished Professor of sociology, and the other, Paul Elovitz earned his history doctorate there. Both Heckscher and Elovitz contributed to the book on Trump’s leadership that Maccoby co-edited.  References to Trump are sprinkled throughout this book,

Maccoby has coached, studied, and/or taught leaders in thirty-six countries. “Leadership in Context” is the title of his reflective essay here. He is concerned with the characteristics of leaders and the relationship of followers to leaders. He recounts the theories on leadership of Sigmund Freud, Erich Fromm, Erik Erikson, and himself.

To Maccoby, Freud finds three personality types in leaders: erotic, obsessive, narcissistic. Maccoby says that Freud’s account describes some but not all leadership types and relationships.  Fromm describes leaders as receptive, hoarding, exploitative and marketing. To Fromm, a group that is narcissistic wants a leader that enhances their narcissism.  Fromm added a new type of leader, one with a marketing orientation. Trump, Maccoby asserts, “expresses the marketing orientation combined with narcissistic grandiosity.” He adds that the grandiosity is “a defense against his emptiness and neediness.”

Maccoby himself describes four different personality types in leaders: caring, exacting, visionary, adaptive. Leadership itself is the relationship between leaders and followers in specific contexts.  For instance, in Sweden, the ideal leader is collaborative. In Germany, once a leader made a ruling, “everyone marched in step.” In China, the model is a basketball coach who knew each players abilities, placed them in the appropriate positions, adapted to change, and developed a winning strategy. Mexicans favored a “semi-feudal patron.”

As well as cultural variations in leadership sensibilities, there are studies of leadership not only by males but females. While the Council of Foreign Relations in the aggregate sees women leaders as promoting equality, stability, and bipartisanship, Maccoby agrees and dissents.  He finds that Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meir and Indira Gandhi were “tough and dominating.” One size does not fit all. As Maccoby says, “Different types of leaders fit different historical, cultural, and organizational contexts.” There are commonalities and diversity in the patterns of leaders and followers.

Dr. Cortina’s essay has the long title of “Our Prehistory as Egalitarian Nomadic Foragers with Antiauthoritarian Leadership: What These Nomads Can Teach Us Today.”  He mentions that except for us “all our great ape relatives live in dominant-submissive hierarchies in which alpha males dominate the group.” But this was not the human pattern for most of our history as a species. We lived in hunter-gatherer egalitarian groups. Acknowledging anthropologist Christopher Boehm’s research, there was an anti-authority pattern in these societies. As a recent male in a hunter-gatherer African group explained, “each one is a headman over himself.” In these nomadic groups, Cortina says there was “generosity” not only towards kin but to all other members of their small groups.

The move to agriculture altered this, as the wealthy helped create social inequalities and social classes. When civilizations emerged 4000-5000 BCE, there were despotic leaders in hierarchical societies.  This pattern was not absent for much of subsequent human history.  But there were other sides to human culture. Cortina cites anthropologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy’s findings of collaborative nurturing of children that crossed generations, and psychologist Michael Tomasello’s extensive research on human cooperation, coordination, and collaboration.

Historically, these traits resurged with the development of a new class of businessman and their guild associations.  They challenged the hierarchical rule of monarchs and dictators. In England, eventually a “democratically elected parliament” triumphed, and the U.S. revolutionaries declared that all men are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights. This creating of democratic institutions over the last 250 years is “a major human accomplishment.” Still, Cortina is aware of the “re-emergence of right-wing, illiberal, and authoritarian leaders.” To him, across “the timespan of our species, the desire for autonomy, social solidarity, generosity, and compassion…have remained an intrinsic part of our nature” even while we have, as Fromm said, “a genius for good and evil.” Humans alternate between demonizing, dehumanizing and depersonalizing others with an ability to be caring, generous, and compassionate. “The quality and character of leadership,” Cortina writes, “play an important role in influencing which side of our conflicted human nature will prevail.”

Former Senior Fellow in Management Practice at Oxford, Jon Stokes, writes of “Leadership- Charismatic or Inspiring? An Inquiry Into Regressive and Developmental Forms of Leadership.” This is a psychoanalytically informed contrast between what Stokes calls charismatic and inspiring leadership.  He worries that charismatic leaders can diminish the importance of the individual and collective ego ideal. There is a destructive form of charismatic leadership in authoritarian groups that keeps those who identify with their charismatic superiors from the loss of identity they fear. This leadership worship is basically narcissistic and regressive, and overestimates the power of follower and leader, and stunts psychological development.

In contrast, inspiring leadership wishes to be in accord “with reality” and connects to “mature love and the desire for truth.” There are five elements of inspiring leadership (1) being an exemplar who models desirable behaviors (2) articulating a vivid sense of purpose (3) leaders who use emotional intelligence on how to act (4) inspiring leaders enable people to feel good about themselves (5) are ready to face difficulties as part of facing the truth. To Stokes, finding the inspiring more than the negative sides of charismatic leaders is a way for productive results for the individual and group.

Rutgers sociologist Charles Heckscher also centers on a contrast of two styles of leadership.  Since the late 1980s his research has been on leadership in corporations. He contrasts two forms of management: bureaucratic and collaborative. The centrality of knowledge creation in business has made it important to have employees with different knowledge specialties to work together to solve real world problems.

Leaders in the bureaucratic organization “tell their subordinates what to do.” This can result in a “paternalistic type of bureaucracy.” The leader then is “a father figure.” But given the conditions of success in business and politics in “today’s situation requires conversation rather than charisma.”

This may lead to a different sensibility than in the past. The dominant way of resolving conflicts in history has often been through conquest and suppressing the opposition. In recent times, Donald Trump rallied supporters for victory.  But he discovered he cannot always fire those who disobey.  Heckscher asserts, “If we are not to fall into civil war, we have to somehow get along with people “with diverging views.

Heckscher describes ways of enabling healing conversations. To him this entails the ability to listen, a high tolerance for criticism, linking to a communal past, combined with a strong sense of purpose. He writes, that to “heal our wounds, we need both leaders who can stimulate constructive conversations, and new institutions that provide a framework and incentives for their continuance.” In the business and political worlds there have emerged “flashes of hope” and “a growing number of community dialogues. As incomplete as they are, they cast some light on the long path ahead.”

Bob Duckles addresses “Leadership in the Industrial Workplace.” He is a social-clinical psychologist who, among other tasks, worked to promote the effectiveness of organizations by, among other things, bringing out the best in people and how individuals can bring out the best in organizations.

He recognizes that this may not always happen. For some, individual sole proprietors can be effective without bringing out the best in their employees. In contrast, there are many corporations where suggested improvements come from engineers who are quite direct in telling people what to do. This often causes silent resentment.  On the other hand, productive leadership when implementing change is enhanced by getting worker input. Then the leaders are bringing the employees along with the programs, and making changes after receiving the input. There are different character types and good leaders become sensitive to this normal human diversity. Continuity is also central.  When effective managers depart promising changes may die. Having continuity of leadership means leaders can have greater knowledge of “the total system” and be more effective in knowing what will make changes work and what not.

Stanford Professor of Organizational Studies Jeffrey Pfeffer’s article is entitled “The Dark Triad May Not Be So Dark: Exploring Why ‘Toxic’ Leaders Are So Common – With Some Implications for Scholarship and Education.” This piece argues against the utility and accuracy of the notion of a dark triad of leadership qualities. This triad includes narcissism, Machiavellianism, and aspects of psychopathy.  Pfeffer immediately says that Donald Trump has been assessed by some as a narcissist and psychopath.

To Pfeffer these attributes of the dark triad are “problematic.” For one, he mentions research that shows being narcissistic and Machiavellian both “positively predict leader emergence.”  For instance, research of 172 Italian CEOs found that becoming a CEO occurred more quickly when being a narcissist. He mentions Trump again, and says in 2016 the Donald was underestimated as a viable candidate due to his “narcissistic, social convention-defying behavior.”

The research on the appeal of narcissism is connected to their behaving like a star, which is something that Trump said about himself.  With those who are judged to be psychopathic these leaders seek thrills and seek out excitement. Pfeffer sees some value in being manipulative. “The essence of leadership is, in some sense, being able to get people to engage in behaviors that they would not otherwise do.” As well, political skill is helpful in navigating power struggles within organizations, Research connects being Machiavellian and sales volume in real estate agents. So being Machiavellian may not just be a dark trait, but a useful one in leadership struggles.

Pfeffer cites Maccoby on the productivity of some narcissistic leaders. O’Reilly and Chatman found a connection between grandiose narcissists and transformational leaders. Again, there can be utility and progress stimulated by transformational narcissistic leaders.

Pfeffer says that “leadership science” has not been “well-served by dark terminology and value-laden research.”   He recommends abandoning the dark triad concepts.

Tim Scudder, PhD. is an authority on applying the Strength Deployment Inventory and strives to improve working relationships through assessing personality assessments and training in his role as a Principal at Core Strengths. His contribution is “The Surprising Resilience of Freud’s Libidinal Types and Their Influence on Leadership.”  Scudder presents conceptual relationships of typologies for Freud, and also Erich Fromm, Maccoby, and Elias Porter who developed a psychometric using some of Fromm’s concepts and worked with Carl Rogers.

Freud’s libidinal type include, erotic, obsessive, narcissistic, erotic-narcissistic obsessive, narcissistic obsessive, erotic-compulsive. Fromm’s are receptive, hoarding, exploitative, marketing, and blends of these different types. Porter’s motivational types are altruistic-nurturing, analytic-autonomizing, assertive-directive, flexible-cohering, assertive-nurturing, judicious-competing, cautious-supporting.  Maccoby’s leadership types are erotic, obsessive, narcissistic, marketing, and 12 blended types. Scudder, it should be noted, has adopted and adapted Porter’s types.

A central issue on personality and leadership concerns dealing with conflicts. There are, Scudder asserts, three stages of conflict. The first combines self and others, the second on the individual’s view of the problem, and will depend on the type of personality the person has.  The response during third stage will reveal the character type of the individual.  To Scudder, the “importance of understanding personality can hardly be overstated.”   For leaders “project their personalities onto their organizations.” Using psychometrics “can offer leaders insight into themselves and others.” He sees the Strength Deployment Inventory as the psychometric tool than can provide this guidance to leaders and others.

Drs. Robert Cosby and Janice Edwards are both Associate Professors in Howard University’s School of Social Work, where Cosby is also an Assistant Dean. Their article “Why People Lead and Others Follow: The Black Perspective” considers “the formative educational process of leaders” and what shapes them during the life course. The legacy of slavery for blacks is formative. The authors recognize that black leaders have a different and difficult path to leadership. Cosby and Edwards give profiles of black leaders in politics, religion, and thought.

They begin with political leaders and the important role of Thurgood Marshall first as an attorney for the NAACP and then on the U.S. Supreme Court. Reverend and U S Senator Raphael Warnock’s leadership derives from the example of Martin Luther King Jr, and like King appeals to all races. Warnock desires as Senator to represent all Georgians, including those who voted for his opponents. Former Senator and currently Vice-President Kamala Harris recognizes that to deal with intractable problems we first have to honestly face them and the strength of those who are against forward movement.

For black leaders there is a divide between those who believe in integration and those who do not. Cosby and Edwards are aware that younger blacks “do not gather around leaders in the march for dignity in the same way as with past leaders.”  But they see promise in the leadership of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Their profile of black religious leaders includes Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary, the Very Reverend D. Kelly Brown Douglas.  Her important works include  Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God and Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective. Baptist Bishop William Barber II is co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign. He preaches from scripture on the centrality of civil rights. Michael Curry is the Episcopal Presiding Bishop in the United States.  To him, it is imperative that we build on Jesus’s teaching of learning to love one another. He has built a following “through traditional and nontraditional models of evangelism.”

With thought leaders, Cosby and Edwards single out three Black women, Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi, who are recognizing as founding the Black Lives Matter movement. Dr. Linda Hill studies how leadership is combined with innovation. As Associate Dean for Innovation and Academic Affairs at Columbia’s School of Social Work, Dr. Desmond Upton Patton had led in having Artificial Intelligence that is less biased and culturally sensitive. Dr. Dorie Ladner was involved with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee.  Ladner has seen the centrality for social justice in better health care and stable housing. Mellody Hobson is co-CEO of Ariel Investments, where she stresses diversity in business.

One thing that all black leaders need to recognize, Cosby and Edwards point out, is the “heterogeneity among Black voters.” For “Black leaders have not been unified in their solution to White supremacy.” To move forward, “Black leaders must utilize ways of sharing common messages and building coalitions not only in the immediate future but for future generations.”

The first Professor of Practice at the University of Oxford is Rafael Ramirez, where he directs the Oxford Scenarios Programme. His essay “Aesthetics and Leadership” frequently concerns Donald Trump. In September 2016 candidate Trump described his proposed southern border wall as beautiful. When the Donald was defeated for reelection in 2020, The Guardian on its fashion page bid “farewell to the Trump aesthetic.” Ramirez maintains that “Trump’s presidency can therefore be considered in aesthetic terms.” The former President’s flashy aesthetics” actually “articulates values…and forms action.” These values were reflected in his use of Twitter, his orange-tinted skin, power suits, brash style, and gold courses. He signaled that as the new sheriff he did not adhere to the establishment. The appeal Trump had for his followers was his flashy and brash defying of the old order. His leadership and his aesthetic style cannot easily be separated.

Donald Trump is also a subject in the concluding full article, “How Paul Elovitz Used What He Learned About Childhood, Leadership, Learning, and Personality to Become a Presidential Psychobiographer of Trump and Biden.” Elovitz is the founder and editor of the journal Clio’s Psyche, has been leading the Psychohistory Forum for decades, and is the only person who has presented at every conference of the International Psychohistorical Association since its beginning in the late 1970s.

He speaks of his family background as a child and the role of both his parents in his self-image and development. He earned a doctorate in history from Rutgers and became a practicing psychoanalyst. He declares, “Applied psychoanalysis, that is, psychohistory, became and remains my passion.” As well, as history faculty at New Jersey’s Ramapo College, he shared “his curiosity and love of knowledge” with his students and learned to “become a confident teacher.” In the process, he soon recognized the “resistances of anti-psychoanalytic colleagues.”

Starting 1976 and continuing until the present, Elovitz has become a self-described “political psychobiographer.”  But not only that, he has been a leader in the psychohistory movement for decades. He sees himself as both “an organizer” and “a midwife of knowledge.” As a Presidential psychobiographer, Elovitz traces their leadership approaches back to the individual’s background.  With Donald Trump, Elovitz looks at Donald’s history in the family of five children.  When Donald was little more than two, after his younger brother, Robert, was born, his mother became sick and hospitalized, never regained her full strength and had “little time and energy” for Donald. The future President, according to Elovitz, “turned inward” and became “his own self-object.” He became “a disruptive student” and his oldest sister said Donald was “a Brat.”   His father, Frederick, took his son with him in his business dealings more than play with and tend to his son’s needs. Donald initially went into the same business as his father, later became a celebrity and surprisingly the Republican 2016 nominee and then in 2016 was elected President.  Elovitz sees Donald Trump as “the most irresponsible of politicians,” who uses “denial, projection, and splitting” and is adept at “denigrating” others with “derogatory nicknames.”

His portrayal of the childhood and leadership of Joe Biden is of a different character than Trump’s. As a child Joe Biden was an athlete and a leader of the boys in his neighborhood. “Throughout his entire life,” Elovitz concludes, “Joe loved to connect with people.” Yet loss has been a central theme of Biden’s adulthood. Soon after being elected to the Senate, his wife and daughter died in an automobile accident, leaving him as the sole parent of two boys ages three and four. His family came to the rescue. Joe did marry again to Jill. Much later, his cherished son, Beau who followed his father into electoral politics, became ill and died of brain cancer.  Joe Biden had to deal “with his own grief.” He tried to follow Beau’s advice to not let others see his pain.

To Elovitz, it has been “a fascinating adventure” in tracing the family backgrounds, childhoods and successes and failures of American Presidents and candidates. He wishes to demonstrate the importance “of listening to our leaders, who by being attuned to and listening to their followers are in the end the most effective.”

In their Epilogue, Michael Maccoby and Mauricio Cortina raise two essential questions: how can we keep toxic individuals from gaining power and how can we develop more inspiring leaders.  They write, “The human vulnerability to toxic leaders calls for structural safeguards…not only in government but also in organizations.” The existence of social inequalities has contributed to making “politics a zero-sum game pitting political parties and their followers against each other.  Toxic leaders provoke these tribal animosities.”  They quote Freud that civilizations which leave their citizens dissatisfied do not deserve to last long.  For our future prospects, whether societies become “more equitable and united” or too many become “alienated and dissatisfied” depends on having leaders who can build “social solidarity at all levels of society.”

There is much to learn and think about in this stimulating volume.



Part 3: October 8-9, 2022

The third and last part of the virtual 2022 International Psychohistorical Association will be the weekend of October 8th and 9th.  The conference will be from 10:00 am to 5:10 pm Eastern Time both days. If you have not registered for our 2022 conferences and would like to attend, go to If you did register for Part 1 (in May) or Part 2 (in June) – you are registered already!

On Saturday, October 8th, the topics include “Gender Divide in the Experience of Covid 19 – A Qualitative Analysis”; it will be presented by Tilottama Mukherjee. This will be followed by the “Evolution of Anti-Semitism: Never Ending Bigotry From Antiquity to the Present,” from  Allan Mohl.  Then, Charles Gourgey will present on “Music as Nonverbal Speech.”

Sunday October 9th will have an array of sessions, including David Beisel and Irene Javors, who will present papers from their fascinating book Genres of the Imagination. Dr. Carol Jaxson-Jagger will present on “Police Brutality and the Continuing Slaughter of American Black Males.”  Dr. Ken Rasmussen’s presentation entitled “Philosophers and Totalitarian Ultranationalism: Psychohistorical Reflection” will draw the parallels between Martin Heidegger/ Hitler and Alexsandr Dugin/ Putin.

Group Discussion will conclude the conference on both Saturday and Sunday. Hope to see you there. To view the conference page, follow the link here:

Dear All,

After two plus years of COVID limitations and lockdowns, we are resuming the in-person meetings for Psychohistory Forum, and all of you are invited! Here is the info:

Note from the Presenter

Dear colleagues,

I am completing a text entitled “Unpacking Depth Sport Psychology: Case Studies in the Unconscious” for Routledge with a publication date in early 2023.  The book represents the first of its kind to discuss in detail how psychoanalytic theory and technique is used with professional athletes in my practice.

The field of sport psychology is currently frozen in a cognitive behavioral paradigm, which has proven to be ineffective in helping the athlete to cope with his or her performance issues. Very little has been written on the psychoanalytic treatment of athletes despite its unique ability to help patients resolve repetition compulsions, past traumas, unconscious guilt about winning, etc.  The book demonstrates the way dream analysis, free association, transference, and resistance analysis is used with athletes.

I am hoping that in a forum presentation, you will be able to give me further insights and research direction into this much neglected and fascinating area of work. I work with Major League Baseball (MLB), Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) and National Football League (NFL) players, Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) golfers, soccer professionals, tennis and lacrosse players, swimmers, long distance runners, figure skaters, and gymnasts. Case studies will be presented on some of their inhibition of function, anxieties, depression, yips, self-doubt, narcissism, sociopathy, drug use, and obsessive compulsive traits.

If you enjoy sports or recreational activities, I am sure you will find the discussion of interest.  If not, this Psychohistory Forum Work in Progress seminar will help you understand an extraordinarily important aspect of our society, and the treatment of performance problems can be applied to other aspects of our lives, those of our patients, and our families.

Tom Ferraro, Ph.D.

Just a reminder about how the Psychohistory Forum meetings work: these meetings are designed as work-in-progress presentations by the authors who are interested to hear their colleagues’ critique and reflections. That is why we ask the participants to read an article or a book excerpt prepared by the author in advance. Here is the link to Dr. Ferraro’s book excerpt that was offered for your reading before the event:

Registration is free, but we require to RSVP by writing to Paul Elovitz, PhD at 

Learn more about Psychohistory Forum at
Learn more about Clio’s Psyche peer-reviewed journal at
and recent Calls for Papers for Clio’s Psyche:

• The Psychology of Music, Musicians, and its Impact on the Individual and Society
• Psychoanalysis/Psychology of Reproductive Rights & the Politicization & Polarization of American Society/Supreme Court as a Threat to Democracy
• The Psychoanalysis and Psychology of Fear

Sincerely yours,

Paul H. Elovitz, PhD, Historian, Research (and retired) Psychoanalyst, Professor at Ramapo College, Editor, Clio’s Psyche and author The Making of Psychohistory: Origins, Controversies, and Pioneering Contributors (Routledge, 2018)  E-mail: 

Inna Rozentsvit, MD, PhD, MBA, MSci; Associate Editor, Clio’s Psyche; Associate Director of the Psychohistory Forum; and Group Co-Leader of the Psychobiography Research and Publication Group of the Forum  Email: 

Fairbairn’s Paradigm Shift to Developmental Model
of Psychoanalysis as a Method and a Clinical Tool

Psychoanalytic Grand Rounds at ORI
Presenter: Dr. David P. Celani
Date: Sunday, October 2, 2022, 9:30am — 1:00pm EDT
Location: Zoom/Virtual Participation Only
Registration is free (until 10-1-22, 6pm EDT), but is required


This three hour introduction to the psychoanalytic theory of W.R.D. Fairbairn will focus on three key issues that emerge from his revolutionary model. The first is Fairbairn’s sensitivity to the developing infant and child’s absolute need for empathic and attuned parenting. The infant and child’s fundamental need is to feel safe and nurtured by his/her all-important maternal object. The feeling allows normal development to unfold in a timely manner. Any disruption to the sense of secure attachment to the mother registers as a trauma and has to be erased from the child’s awareness so his feeling of safety can continue. The child’s only defense against early disruptions of his secure attachment to his mother is dissociation, which erases the memory of the interruption and forces it into the child’s unconscious. In families lacking empathy the child has to dissociate one interpersonal parenting failure after another, and these memories accumulate in the child’s unconscious and coalesce into memories of him/self in relation to an unempathic parent.

The internalized and dissociated memories of self and others live in the unconscious and engage in dialogues with each other as the events of childhood are remembered and replayed over the years. These dissociated memories  create the individual’s inner world, which varies in strength according to how many events had to be forced into the unconscious. The internal dialogues between the self and the internalized object can be projected onto external objects and thus produce transferences and enactments. This presentation will give the attendee a careful tour of the structure of the unconscious and to ways of  dealing with it as it emerges in the treatment setting.

The third part of this educational event will emphasize the practicality and usefulness of Fairbairn’s model as a treatment tool. In the past, Fairbairn’s model was seen as a theoretical and philosophical challenge to Freud’s model that had little practical value. Nothing could be further from the truth. Fairbairn’s structural theory gives the clinician a valuable tool that allows them to assess the patient’s inner world, and monitor the individual’s progress toward separation from toxic objects as well as progress integration of previously dissociated memories from childhood.

For more information and to REGISTER, please visit

or email to ORI’s Director of the Programs at

For more information about the ORI’s traditional training courses we offer this fall,
visit the following web pages:

• Introduction to the Object Relations Clinical Theory and Its Clinical Experiential Applications
• “Analyst as Instrument” Group Supervision Class
• Meditative Psychoanalysis — The Marriage of Mindfulness, Meaning, and Intimacy: The Art of Flourishing
• Introduction to Psychohistory to Mental health Professionals and the Curious

Psychoanalytic Conference
of the Free Association Journal and the Freud Museum
on September 24-25, 2022

On September 24 and 25, 2022, there will be a virtual conference “Psychoanalysis and the Public Sphere: Politics of Identity” put on by the Free Associations Journal in partnership with the Freud Museum. There will be three panels each day. The conference runs 12:30 to 6 pm London time.

For more information and to book the conference go to

On Saturday, September 24th, the first event will be “Getting IDed: Who Decides Who We Are?” The panelists will be Eli Zaretsky, Philip Stokoe, Susie Orbach, Lisa Appignanesi. David Morgan will be Chair.

The second panel on Saturday will be “Identity and Class: Complementary or Antagonistic?” – with David Pilgrim, Lauren Langman, Ian Parker, Sally Sales, and the Chair will be Agnieszka Piotrowska. The last Saturday panel will discuss “Identity as Concept and Tool” with Barry Richards, Karl Figlio, David Bell, Lene Auestad and Chaired by Ruth McCall.

The Sunday September 25th conference sessions will begin with the topic of “Race, Ethnicity and Identity.” The participants will be Carlton Jama Adams, Narendra Keval, Maxine Dennis. Chair: Fakhry Davids. This will be followed by a panel on Ukraine and Israel/Palestine: “Is Identity the Difference?” – with Diana Bass, Gabrielle Rifkind, Sabby Sagall, Neil McLaughin; Kurt Jacobsen will be the Chair. The final conference event will examine “Protean Man and Neoliberal Society.” It will be a Roundtable Discussion with Lynn Layton, Samir Gandesha, Marilyn Charles, Rye Holmboe, Michael Rustin. Ken Fuchsman will be Chair.

Journal of Psychohistory

The Fall 2022 Issue of the Journal of Psychohistory includes writings covering the following issues and questions – as well as original poetry by Howard Stein.

Does putting Vladimir Putin “on the couch” while seeming to ignore security threats from the U.S. and NATO (claiming that Putin is the reason for his “special operation” in Ukraine) legitimize American militarism? What do three psychohistorians have to say about this?

Learn about and understand the sources of the devaluing of gay men in psychoanalytic theory and practice in the larger context of the history of xenophobia in the United States, where gay male patients were devalued, and openly gay male therapists were not accepted for training in psychoanalytic institutes. The usual blame for this, directed towards Freud’s ideas about homosexuality, is rejected and countered with references to Freud’s actual statements regarding homosexuality. Non pathologizing of homosexuality was supported as well by Ferenczi and Rank.

Splitting, one of the earliest defense mechanisms of the human psyche, kicks in when the psychological processing possibilities threaten to collapse due to excessive demands. This happens naturally in early childhood, as well as later, in times of severe stress and trauma – particularly in the face of severe cruelty; in this case, it often combines with other defense mechanisms, such as denial, displacement, and identification with the aggressor. Splitting processes often result from transgenerationally inherited traumas and feelings of guilt in both the descendants of the Holocaust survivors and of the Nazi perpetrators.

Treating narcissism as a personality trait, rather than a clinical diagnosis, the authors contend that Hitler emerged at the right historical moment with a popular message. As we learn about his progressively narcissistic behaviors and their outcomes, we see that early successes provided further referent power. Hitler received but little critical feedback from his in-group of unquestioning sycophants, and that little bit was apparently drowned out by the noise of his cult-like following. Rejecting inconvenient evidence, he narcissistically blamed others when failures occurred. It is difficult not to compare Trump with Hitler.

For more information and to subscribe contact 

The Loewenberg Award®

The International Psychohistorical Association awards this $300 prize to a graduate student, very recent PhD, or psychoanalytic candidate who is new or fairly new to the field of psychohistory and presents research at our annual conference, or any of our conferences, that demonstrates high quality and noteworthy potential for advancing the field. The award is normally granted to one individual but in some circumstances may be shared. Nominations may be made by officers of the Executive Committee, members in good standing, or the presenter her/himself.

To be considered for the 2022 Award, nominees must submit a written text of their paper to the IPhA Secretary and the chair of the Awards Committee, Paul H. Elovitz via email   no later than November 15, 2022.

Applicants who meet the criteria, especially if they are not IPhA presenters, are encouraged to submit their presentation papers for publications to Clio’s Psyche, The Journal of Psychohistory, or the Newsletter of the IPhA.

The Loewenberg Award® Committee Members:

Paul H. Elovitz Chair (), Brian D’Agostino, Denis O’Keefe, Peter Petschauer, Inna Rozentsvit.

We welcome input from members of the Leadership Team and other IPhA attendees who observed particular presentations.

Criteria for Candidates:

  • Youthful by IPhA standards, which means under 50 with a preference for those in their 20s and 30s
  • Showing a likelihood based upon the judgment of those who have known them, usually as their teacher(s) or solicitors of their presentation, of their doing quality psychohistory
  • Showing a likelihood based upon the judgment of those who have known them, usually as their teacher(s) or someone who has solicited their work, of making a commitment to psychohistory and the hopefully the IPhA. While we are not searching for longtime IPhA presenters or attendees, we do welcome prior attendance as a sign of a commitment to the group.
  • Candidates should not be members of the IPhA offices or Leadership Team unless they are new members and under 40.
  • To accommodate the wishes of contributors to this fund, so we will have money beyond the $600 out of our treasury and the added funds from Professor Loewenberg, our wish is that this Award be offered beyond the IPhA. But in working to get those who are beyond it, the desire that they submit their papers, if not already published, to Clio’s PsycheThe Journal of Psychohistory, or The Psychohistory News. Our hope is to bring any and all awardees into our IPhA community.