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Foundations of Psychohistory Paperback – January, 1982

ISBN-13: 978-0940508019 ISBN-10: 094050801X Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Creative Roots Pub; First Edition edition (January 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 094050801X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0940508019
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,871,307 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

"Brilliant...bold...challenging...heavily documented" - New York Review of Books; "Confronting, ambitious, provocative and comprehensive" - The Historian; "Authoritative, original...highly recommended" - Choice; "An extraordinary book...it would be a tragedy if it were confined to the classroom." - Boston Globe

About the Author

Lloyd deMause is Director of The Institute for Psychohistory, Editor of The Journal of Psychohistory and President of the International Psychohistorical Association.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 47 people found the following review helpful By jsturges@texas.net (Jim Sturges) on August 22, 1999
Format: Paperback
Psychohistory might be viewed as state-of-the-art psychoanalysis extended to large groups, but it goes far beyond the clinical model of psychoanalysis, into the everyday content of human emotions such as religion, the arts, nations and economic systems.
"Foundations of Psychohistory" is very accessible without specialized training, but is also deeply rewarding to specialists and scholars who can tolerate the presentation of a new paradigm for the studies of both psychology and history.
The psychodynamic theories of Lloyd deMause are rooted in modern trauma theory, and to a lesser degree in the object relations of Klein, Bion and Fairbairn; however, he uses his exhaustive studies of group fantasy to achieve major strides beyond these. In the opinion of this reviewer, he has written the book that defines the starting point for the depth psychology of the 21st century.
In psychoanalysis, the relationships of humans with their groups, cultures and (often shared) modes of childhood experience are virtually ignored. Lloyd deMause brilliantly analyzes the methods whereby large groups achieve powerful emotional "consensus" for actions by reference to these highly charged childhood and infantile emotional experiences.
This book is equally indispensable for those interested in the "why" of history, and those interested in the nature of human experience. By contrast, mainstream psychoanalysis tends to ignore the profound importance of group experiences (outside the oedipal family, or "objects of attachment"), while other social sciences tend to ignore the fact that a society consists of a group of individuals. "Foundations of Psychohistory" is a first, but giant, step towards a vastly improved understanding of the human condition.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By M. Yoder on September 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book is a collection of scholarly studies on the historical treatment of children, so as such it is not particularly easy to read. The book wasn't written primarily for the layman, so it is fairly dense, some articles more than others.

Also, since the subject matter is almost the almost uniformly horrific torture and humiliation that has been known as child-rearing in western history, anyone with a heart will have a very hard time reading the whole book.

The writers of the book show quite convincingly how various types of child abuse, being widespread in a certain society at a certain time, cause the society as a whole to function as emotionally and intellectually (and occasionally even physically) crippled adults.

The hopeful aspect of the book is that they show an upward trend in child-rearing practices. Historically the trend they trace is that parents are less and less comfortable using their children for their own selfish ends, and more and more are becoming able to love and care for children unselfishly.

I've found that after reading this book, and similar titles by Alice Miller and Philip Greven, the world make sense in a very different way than I ever suspected before. You know how irrationally people act, and how difficult it is to understand why? After reading this book, you will understand why, and it will break your heart.
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By Larry Benjamin on December 31, 2014
Format: Paperback
I came across this book by accident. I was on the editorial board of an undergraduate academic journal when I was in college, and one of the other editors was an expert at playing the system. He would contact publishers and convince them to send us copies of books with the promise that we would review them. Someone else reviewed this book for the journal, but I read it when they were finished, as I was a big fan of Isaac Asimov.

Demause's psychohistory, of course, has nothing to do with the psychohistory of Hari Seldon in the "Foundation" series, other than coincidentally sharing the same name, although it's possible that the word "Foundations" in the title was Demause's nod to his fictional predecessor. Seldon was the developer of an imaginary science that purported to be able to predict - and influence - historical trends thousands of years in the future. Demause, on a much smaller scale, finds images in popular culture that start to appear right before a significant event. For example, in the weeks before Reagan was shot, Demause found examples of guns and violence appearing on the covers of major newsmagazines. He interprets this as an indication that the zeitgeist was pointing to a major act of violence against a public figure. He does not address whether this is simply confirmation bias; one could say that the assassinations of Lincoln, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and even John Lennon were significant, but not necessarily preceded by any images that unconsciously pointed to them. So this is a weak premise, to say the least.

The second half of the book, on the history of childhood, is of much greater interest. Demause characterizes childhood as "a nightmare from which we have only recently begun to awaken" (or something to that effect - it's been a long time).
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dwight on September 16, 2013
Format: Paperback
Although I found the details very interesting, I did not agree with the assessment that it was no wonder that such child abuse would lead to World War 2.

I do prefer this type of writing in that the Germans allowed their victims to know what they were really thinking and now we get to learn exactly how they planned the filthy fatal conditions at places like Auschwitz where they expressly wanted to see fellow citizens covered in lice and to die covered in their own excreta. Charming Weeping Angels.
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