Fantasy and Reality in History

Fantasy and Reality in History

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Successfully integrating history, political psychology, and psychoanalysis, Fantasy and Reality in History studies individual and social anxiety, crisis management, racism and nationalism. By blending clinical and historico-political methods, Loewenberg examines the psycho-sexual conflicts of several charismatic political leaders, including, among others, Gladstone, and Zhirinovsky, Russia's contemporary fascist.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 248 pages
  • 162.1 x 240.3 x 21.3mm | 522.53g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0195067630
  • 9780195067637

Back cover copy

In Fantasy and Reality in History, Peter Loewenberg, a historian, political psychologist, and psychoanalyst, brings what the discipline of psychoanalysis has learned about human conduct and the irrational to bear on the analysis and writing of history. The result is a remarkable series of studies on individual and social anxiety, racism and nationalism, and crisis management. The first section proposes psychohistorical theoretical and clinical perspectives on Freud, psychoanalysis, social structure, and culture. Loewenberg examines creative group process in early twentieth century Zurich and how the earliest practitioners of psychoanalysis - Freud, C.G. Jung, Karl Abraham, and others - established the discipline's understanding of the unconscious and how it functions. The second section explores the tensions in the lives and politics of modern political leaders. Loewenberg offers case studies including the pornographic sexual politics of the nineteenth-century British Liberal Prime Minister William E. Gladstone, interpretations of the self-sacrifice of the German-Jewish foreign minister Walther Rathenau, the ideas of Austrian President Karl Renner at resolving nationality conflicts, and the primitive psychic splitting of the contemporary Russian fascist demagogue Vladimir Zhirinovsky. The final section interprets manifestations of anxiety in history, and its expression in racism, anti-Judaism, Nazism, and nationalism. In each study, Loewenberg blends clinical and historical-political methods which not only produce new and exciting research, but also demonstrate how a psychoanalytic approach enriches our understanding of history, and how historical and social science perspectives mayinform the resolution of clinical conflicts.
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Review quote

One dazzling essay follows another. The essay on Gladstone sparkles with new insights. Peter Loewenberg combines, uniquely in my experience, not only the two fields of psychiatry and history but the two methodologies and the underlying assumptions. He offers it to readers in a calm, relaxed, utterly undoctrinaire tone as a way, not the way, to interpret a reality which will always be too complex for us. * Jonathan Steinberg, Reader in Modern European History, Trinity Hall Cambridge *
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