Psychoanalysis and History
In 1958 William L. Langer, in a well-known presidential address to the American Historical Association, declared the informed use of psychoanalytic depth psychology as "the next assignment" for professional historians. Psychoanalysis and History, volume 31 of The Annual of Psychoanalysis, examines the degree to which Langer's directive has been realized in the intervening 45 years.
Section IV turns to a topic of perennial interest: the psychobiographical study of American presidents. Section V turns to the special challenges of applying psychoanalysis to topics of religious history and includes topical studies of religious figures as disparate as the 15th century Asian Drukpa Kunley and Osama bin Laden. Section VI focuses on the recent extension of psychohistorical inquiry to groups of people and to cultural phenomena more generally: an investigation of the youth movement in pre-Nazi Germany; consideration of how societies, no less than individuals, reenact and work through traumas over time; and an outline of the role of analysis in constructing a depth-psychological "social psychology" of use to historians.
These papers, no less than those that precede them, are compelling testimony to the claim with which editors James William Anderson and Jerome A. Winer begin the volume, to wit, that "Psychoanalysis would seem to be a resource indispensable to the study of history."