JIMMY CARTER AND AMERICAN FANTASY: Psychohistorical Explorations by Lloyd & Henry Ebel--Eds. deMause

JIMMY CARTER AND AMERICAN FANTASY: Psychohistorical Explorations

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

The five essays in this volume are all from the far fringes of psychohistory and, at the very least, they will startle more conventional practitioners of the art. To say nothing of political analysts. Their subject is the birth and babyhood of Jimmy Carter. Will he fulfill his nurturant promise? Or will he prove a group fantasy leader who brings us to war? DeMause, the most gloomy of the lot, points the way by charting the nation's psyche as it moves through successive ""strong-weakening-helpless-tough"" cycles that parallel the human birth process and peak with a birth crisis. When it hits, the birth crisis precipitates war or military aggression as the nation tries, collectively, to allay fetal anxieties of strangulation, claustrophobia, and intolerable pressure. Wild-eyed as this all sounds, the fetal interpretation of history and its leaders is one the authors all share: a president is like a quadrennial newborn baby and Carter, delivered to us courtesy of the most euphoric of Democratic conventions, is the ""heroic messiah baby"" of our deepest desires. What kind of baby will J.C. actually turn out to be? Henry Ebel and David R. Beisel (who like the others, are contributors to The Journal of Psychohistory) see much to worry about in the ""ambivalent distancing"" of Lillian Carter during her son's growing-up years and there is reason to fear that Carter, emulating his punitive father, might be ""punitive father to the nation."" ""We pour truly primal projections into our leaders,"" Ebel notes, lest anyone think that such psychiatric inference is farfetched. Pouring over his charts, deMause anticipates heading toward Canada long about 1979--the projected date of the next birth crisis and maybe the next war. By this evidence psychohistory bids fair to stray down the determinist garden path.

Pub Date: Dec. 6th, 1977
Publisher: Two Continents