Psychoanalysis and history
in The houses of history
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One of the most controversial areas of historiography has been the use of psychoanalysis for understanding historical personalities, groups, or trends. This chapter focuses on the use of psychoanalysis in history. Psychoanalytic theory was developed by Sigmund Freud in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Freud's theory has sometimes been seen as deterministic, in that he saw an adult as a product of a small group of people, the family, who interpreted the nature of society for her or him. Erik Erikson's theory of ego psychology, developed in the United States, suggested fruitful amalgamations of history and psychoanalysis. According to Peter Loewenberg, ego psychology and character analysis are particularly important and welcome to historians because they are based on the evidence of adult behaviour. Psychoanalytic approaches can explain more than the irrational in history. Many historians are committed to explanations based on individual or group self-interest.

The houses of history

A critical reader in history and theory, second edition


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