What is most reassuring about this hybrid discipline is that its practitioners -- at least those represented here -- are...

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EXPLORATIONS IN PSYCHOHISTORY: The Wellfleet Papers

What is most reassuring about this hybrid discipline is that its practitioners -- at least those represented here -- are acutely concerned with its pitfalls: overdeterminism, subjectivity, frivolous cross-models, politicization. Yet they do not disavow personal involvement or normative judgments. In separate essays Erikson, Lifton and Coles discuss their identification with their subjects and their reliance on intuition; Erikson (in an uncharacteristic but probing analysis), Lifton, Keniston, Mazlish and the Mitscherlichs sift social change as exemplified by ""generation gap"" and German guilt and mourning; Philip Rieff examines ""Freud and the Authority of the Past""; Birnbaum seeks connections between psychoanalytic inquiry and Marxian thought; Peter Brooks discusses symbolization and ""sense-making"" as portrayed in aesthetic theory and its relation to Lifton's ""psychic numbing."" In the lead essay Lifton offers an overview of different paradigms: the ""great man"" approach of Erikson and the ""shared theme"" concept that Lifton himself pursues. Not all of the contributions are formal essays; some are reconstructions of meetings between these authors, the ""Wellfleet"" group. This volume cannot be dismissed like Hutschnecker's The Drive for Power (p. 986). It reveals profound possibilities in a discipline still seeking itself -- but then so are we.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 1974

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Simon & Schuster $9.95; paper

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1974