History and the Unconscious

The Theoretical Assumptions and Research Practices of Psychohistory

by Tomasz Pawelec (Author)
©2021 Monographs 410 Pages
Open Access


This work represents the first truly comprehensive and non-biased history of psychohistory, a vanguard branch of historical scholarship that studies the psychological dimension of the past using principles of psychoanalysis and psychology as its theoretical ground. Tomasz Pawelec is an experienced methodologist and historiographer who systematically examines, reconstructs, and evaluates the major theoretical and methodological guiding assumptions shared by psychohistorians. In effect, he provides the reader with an intriguing portrait of a peculiar research paradigm – and a specific intellectual “monad” – that developed within the twentieth-century American history. At the empirical foundation of his work lies a broad collection of psychohistorical publications.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Conceptualization and Research Program
  • A Few Words about Psychoanalysis
  • Applied Psychoanalysis and Psychohistory
  • Psychohistory and Academic History
  • Psychohistory and Philosophy of History
  • Psychohistory and the Social Sciences
  • Other Psychological Concepts
  • Psychohistory’s Research Fields
  • The Psychohistorian’s Profession
  • Psychohistory between “Traditional” and “New” History
  • Psychohistory as a Historiographical Paradigm
  • Birth, Development, Crisis
  • Beginnings
  • Psychohistory Becomes History
  • Psychohistory on the Road to Stabilization
  • Psychohistory in the Seminar Room
  • Debate Surrounding Psychohistory
  • Psychohistory’s Identity Crisis
  • Recapitulation
  • Psychohistory’s Methodological Discourse and its Functions
  • The Psychohistorical Vision of the World
  • The Ideal of Psychohistorical Scholarship
  • Between Tradition and Modernism in Historical Scholarship
  • The Psychohistorian as “Psychotherapist”
  • The Alleviation of Communal Ills
  • Psychohistorical “Therapy” within the Sphere of Scholarly Investigation
  • Criticism
  • The Methodology of Psychohistorical Research
  • The Debate Surrounding Theory
  • Psychoanalysis – Theory or Research Technique
  • The “Hermeneutics of Suspicion” – Psychohistorical Innovation and Historical Source Critique
  • Explanation in Psychohistory
  • Psychohistorical Reductionism
  • Psychohistorical Ahistoricism
  • Methodological Issues in Psychohistory’s Basic Research Fields
  • Psychobiography
  • History of Childhood
  • Group Psychohistory
  • Teaching Psychohistory
  • Recapitulation
  • On the Concept of “Applied Methodology”
  • Difficulties with Choosing the “Canon”
  • Psychobiography as a “Model” Field of Psychohistorical Inquiry
  • The Functions of Theory in Biographical Research
  • Conceptualization and Interpretation
  • The Procedure of Explanation in Psychobiography and Psychohistory
  • The Procedure of Retrodiction in Psychohistorical Research Practice
  • Building a Psychological Portrait
  • Cultural Context and Portrait Construction
  • The Psychological Portrait as an Explanatory Prerequisite
  • Is Psychobiography “Pathography”?
  • On “Traumatic Interpretations”
  • Approaching Sources: Empirical References in Psychohistory
  • Psychologism and Psychobiography
  • History of Childhood
  • The “Psychogenic Theory of History” and the History of Childhood
  • Group Psychology
  • The Idea of Group Biography
  • The Generation and Life Cycle
  • In Search of a Sociological Reference System
  • Model Analysis in Group Psychohistory
  • Group Psychohistory as a Study of the Group Process
  • Recapitulation
  • Introduction
  • Isaac Newton Painted with a Psychohistorian’s “Brush”
  • A Ruler and his Childhood: The Early Years of Louis XIII
  • A Beloved Symbol of the Nation: Wilhelm II and his Subject’s Psychological Needs
  • Conclusions
  • Psychohistory: Monographs and Articles
  • Psychohistory: Methodological Papers, Polemics, Etc.
  • Index
  • Series Index

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This book was originally a monograph addressed to readers in Poland, written in response to the practical absence heretofore of psychohistory in my country. It is not only the case that this field has not been cultivated in Poland; it is also true that, until the original publication of this book, few Polish scholars were aware of psychohistory’s achievements, research strategies and methodological assumptions, which grew in significance in the second half of the twentieth century, which were once prominent (even if in a transient way) in American historical scholarship, and which attracted the attention of scholars broadly beyond the borders of the United States.

This undertaking is also part of a process that started after the collapse of the communist system in Central and Eastern Europe (1989–1991) by which Polish academic history (and, more broadly, the entire humanities and social sciences) integrated the achievements of various Western schools of research and thought which, for a number of reasons (above all political and ideological), had not been integrated before, and of which scholars in the former communist bloc had at best partial and indirect knowledge. Numerous studies have been published on these achievements, and even more translations of original texts have appeared, which together have helped make up for ground lost through years of neglect in providing Polish-language versions of works written by many outstanding authors.

In writing this monograph, I did not intend to act as a “supplier” of yet another Western discourse. I wanted those who read this study to be able to realistically grasp the research model under consideration here and to appreciate its concrete historical achievements (1) as one of the significant and comprehensive (i.e. intellectually and methodologically autonomous) “options” available to historians in the second half of the twentieth century; but (2) not as a panacea for the difficulties, dilemmas, and blind alleys associated with historical knowledge; and (3) certainly not as a list of “prepared” recipes for Polish (or any other) historians who are perhaps seeking new and alternative ways to talk about the past. Beyond describing the history of this field of study (that is – its trajectory and its dynamics over time), I also wanted to reconstruct the mental universe that characterizes representatives of psychohistory, to show how this specialization is viewed both through the eyes of the devoted advocate and through the eyes of “external” observers – those who are friendly, critical, and ←9 | 10→even radically hostile. Moreover, it was important for me to show how psychohistorical research works, in particular, how various antinomies within this model for investigating the past and its problems and limitations “break through” into this actual practice (successfully or not), both those recognized by psychohistorians themselves and those revealed in the course of fierce debates with hostile external critics.

All of these aspects have defined the character of my monograph. I did not write it, quite obviously, as an apologia for psychohistory. And I did not write it as a mere presentation – that is, as a historiographical introduction to the theory and practice of psychohistorical research.1 Rather, I constructed this work with the intention of developing the fullest possible critical treatment of the subject, one which is written from an “external” perspective but which is not “programmatically” hostile toward psychohistory, one that makes systematic use of the analytical apparatus of modern methodology and philosophy of history, and one that takes into consideration historical context – that is, previous historiographic developments and historiography’s modern condition. My goal was to capture, in a balanced manner, the theoretical-methodological properties of psychohistory; to estimate its cognitive possibilities and limitations; to identify psychohistorians’ actual achievements and to distinguish them from apparent achievements. A picture painted in this way would – such was my assumption, at least – will enrich the conceptual tools available to historians/readers of this monograph. It is intended to build an appreciation for psychohistory and its legacy, viewed critically, and for the ways in which scholars can creatively employ psychohistory (or some of its elements) without feeling forced either to absolutely “surrender” to it or to thoroughly reject it.

When the original edition of this book was first published (2004), no other work treating psychohistory in such a holistic and exhaustive way was available. This is still the case, which is precisely what prompted me to prepare an English edition of this book. Although the original version was directed at the Polish market, I expect (at least I certainly hope) that this book will prove useful to a broader readership. Psychohistory’s heyday has already passed, but devoted (albeit relatively few) practitioners of psychohistory have continued their work. Even more importantly, the cognitive achievements of psychohistorians and their intellectual legacy remain an immanent and significant component of ←10 | 11→historiographic traditions in the United States and beyond. In fact, scholars invoke these achievements, and make practical use of them, much more frequently than the recent generation of historians would be willing to admit.

Psychohistory has not changed significantly since the turn of the millennium in terms of its theoretical and methodological approaches and its organizational structures. New and valuable historical studies have appeared, but the older works and models2 in psychohistory have maintained their position within the intellectual world of its practitioners. So far at least, my research conclusions remain valid. Thus, there has been no need for any far-reaching revision of the structure and contents of this book. Therefore, differences between the English-language edition and the Polish edition are small. I have modified the introduction a bit; for the needs of the Western reader, I have provided a deeper explanation for the above-mentioned absence of psychohistory in Poland (and, more broadly, in East-Central Europe); and I have rewritten certain passages that were particularly focused on the needs of Polish readers. Furthermore, I have removed or re-worked a few paragraphs from Part I that were unnecessary for non-Polish readers. The greatest change comes in Part II, where I have added – with reference to research I have completed since the publication of the Polish version – a section in which I deepen my methodological characterization of the psychohistorical approach to sources. Some of the footnotes have also undergone minor modifications; I rewrote or expanded some of the comments, taking into account more recent literature (although the amount of this new literature is not great) and a few papers to which I had not previously had access. The bibliography has been updated accordingly. Moreover, I have added a few new comments to the conclusion, which is the result of expanding my research perspective over recent years.3

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This edition is dedicated to the memory of the late Rudolph Binion, Leff Professor of History at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, a true humanist, a good and wise man. I owe a great deal to him not only as a scholar of psychohistory. It saddens me deeply that he departed this world before it was possible to publish in English the basic results of my scholarship related to the field to which he devoted his entire professional life.

Finally, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Dr. Alex Shannon, who took on the difficult task of translating this monograph into English. With great effort, care and skill, he made certain that English-language readers would have access to both the letter and the spirit of its content.

1 Only a few such works have appeared over the course of recent decades in various non-English-speaking countries. Most notably O. Shutova, Psichoistorija. Škola i metody (Minsk: Vedy, 1997).

2 Or, as Thomas S. Kuhn put it, the exemplary works and exemplary scholars. See Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions: 50th Anniversary Edition, intro. Ian Hacking (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press: Fourth edition, 2012), 186–191.

3 After the text for the English-language edition was prepared and the translation process had already began, a work appeared by one of today’s leading psychohistorians, Paul Elovitz’s The Making of Psychohistory: Origins, Controversies, and Pioneering Contributions (New York: Routledge, 2018). This rather short work fits within the tradition – discussed in the Introduction below – of psychohistorians reflecting on their own cognitive endeavors, although it was undoubtedly written with greater historiographic and methodological self-awareness than other works of this kind. A significant number of the findings contained in The Making of Psychohistory (in particular those concerning the genesis of psychohistory and contributions made by the field’s eminent representatives) were contained in several articles published by Elovitz after 2000, cited below. Elovitz wrote his book programmatically from the very personal perspective of a participant in (and an important co-creator of) the history of psychohistory, as one who reflects on his experiences as a researcher-practitioner in psychohistory, as a college professor in this field, as an editor of a psychohistorical journal, and as the initiator and leader of a number of organizational actions designed to integrate and support the efforts of other representatives of psychohistory. Therefore, the work bears the hallmarks of a record of “participant observation” regarding psychohistory’s development and functioning. From my point of view, it seems important that his theses and observations do not undermine my own work’s findings. What is more, in many cases, they turn out to be an unconscious (because Elovitz, who tries to monitor psychohistory’s development in the world, clearly did not discover the Polish edition of my work), but in particular a deepened (because it was carried out from the “inside perspective” of a prominent participant in the psychohistorical movement) confirmation of my findings.

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Contemporary historiographers have put forward a highly diverse set of conceptualizations and methods to capture the changes in how history was written in the twentieth century. Regardless of whether they were eager to perceive these changes as an evolutionary process or to seek discontinuity and revolution, whether they emphasized differences in development in individual countries or identified trends taking shape “across borders,” or whether they wrote about different tendencies and paradigms or compiled the “cumulative” achievements of master historians, they were unanimous in that they invariably emphasized that historical studies conducted in the twentieth century were permanently marked by the tendency to constantly expand and deepen the field of historical research. The belief, so closely tied to Leopold von Ranke and his immediate heirs, that the “backbone of history” involved politics and processes tied to the exercise of power faded from memory. It would require a great deal of space to list those spheres, dimensions, and aspects of the historical process that have moved from the periphery of historians’ interests toward their center in recent decades. Even more space would be required to account for all of the various schools of thought that have risen and fallen in historiography over the course of this period of time, and to describe all the cultural trends from which these new ways of dealing with the past have emerged.

The subjective (psychological) dimension of history – that is, generally speaking: questions related to people’s subjective experience (as individuals and as collectives) of their own existence – has long occupied a significant place in the broader study of the past. The challenge of how to conceptualize and study this issue was taken up in particular by the “Annales” School, especially by scholars investigating mentalities, whose intellectual heir on a global scale today is that diverse movement in contemporary historical writings often referred to as historical anthropology. That having been said, I have devoted my own study to a different, not to say alternative, model for exploring the psychological side of history, namely psychohistory – a kind of historical scholarship that accepts both psychoanalysis and psychology as a theoretical-methodological basis for historical investigation.

Unlike the achievements of historians of mentalities, those made by psychohistorians are largely unknown in Poland,1 even if – in world (especially ←13 | 14→American) history – psychohistory has been a prolific and flourishing movement. The peak of psychohistory’s influence and popularity is undoubtedly behind us, but it is still a living component of contemporary historical research, one which deserves the attention of both historiographers (due to its contribution to the development of historical scholarship throughout the world) and methodologists of history (due to the methodological specificity of research about the past based on depth psychology).

However, the current state of research in psychohistory does not inspire optimism, which in Poland is, of course, a function of a decades-long lack of interest in psychohistory and a lack of broad knowledge of the field.2 It was ←14 | 15→not until the end of the twentieth century that the cultural and intellectual context began to form in my country, as it had earlier in the United States, which enabled the emergence of psychohistory. Of course, this context was tied to the existence of psychoanalysis itself. In the West, psychoanalysis has developed alongside psychotherapy and counseling for many decades, a fact which had an influence on psychological scholarship and on the discourse carried out within the humanities and social sciences (not to mention mass culture). In Poland, all of this was lacking, even though – before the Second World War – psychoanalysis developed there no less intensely than it had anywhere else.3 But Nazi Germany’s attack on Poland and the brutal Nazi occupation almost completely destroyed the country’s achievements in this area, and a revival of depth psychology in Poland was hindered by postwar Poland’s dependence on the Soviet Union. In the USSR at that time, psychoanalysis did not exist; after a short period of relatively free development (until the beginning of 1930s), it was condemned and prohibited as a bourgeois pseudoscience. Thus, when Poland and other countries in East-Central Europe were pulled into the Soviet orbit, this prohibition was enforced there as well. The communists’ negative attitude toward depth psychology, combined with a clearly incomplete understanding of its theoretical assumptions (especially those tied to later, post-Freudian currents of thought) and the basic principles of clinical practice all lasted for decades in Polish psychology and psychotherapy,4 which of course meant that ←15 | 16→such an understanding was almost completely absent in the academic discourse of the Polish humanities and social sciences. Although that part of the intelligentsia that resisted Marxist influence tried hard to maintain intellectual and cultural ties with the free world, there was no chance for a tradition of psychotherapy based on psychoanalysis to take hold in Polish society the way it did in Western societies. Thus, it is not surprising that professional historians in Poland also inherited this lack of knowledge.5

It is more difficult to explain the modest development of psychohistorical research throughout the world. It is mostly representatives of the field themselves who write about psychohistory, which thus means that we have at our disposal a number of works published by them: articles on the field’s genesis and select conceptual foundations6 and several textbook-like works.7 It was not until the turn of the millennium that Jacques Szaluta attempted to provide a full summary of psychohistory’s methodological and concrete scholarly achievements.8 His interesting study was based on a psychohistory textbook published several years earlier, which Szaluta expanded and updated significantly. Nonetheless, it represents weaknesses typical of a methodological study written by a practitioner who did not have a deeper background in methodology and, ←16 | 17→moreover, was not able to fully distance himself from the research field about which he was writing (in part because he himself belongs to that field). Szaluta seems to have succumbed to the “pressure” of existing psychohistorical literature; thus, his study sometimes appears to be more of an “accounting” of the what, who and how of psychohistory rather than an in-depth attempt to reveal the rules and assumptions behind its writing.

In addition to texts written by psychohistorians themselves,9 I need to mention a few studies on the (mainly ontological) assumptions of some prominent representatives of this field published by the American historian of ideas and methodologist Philip Pomper10 and the often superficial discussions of psychohistory we find in synthetic studies from twentieth-century historiography.11 I should also mention a certain amount of literature that emerged from debates carried out especially in the 1970s revolving around the psychohistorical approach to history (as viewed by both psychohistorians and fierce ←17 | 18→opponents of the approach), though this really only provides source material for more serious historiographic or methodological analyses.12

My observations here are the foundation for how I formulate this study’s cognitive goals. What I want to do is reconstruct the theoretical and methodological assumptions of psychohistory and the basic properties of psychohistorical research in practice. At the foundation of my conceptualization of this subject is the “historiographic paradigm” developed within the Polish historical methodology by Jan Pomorski, which grew out of the intellectual traditions of the so-called Poznań school of methodology, and which drew from contemporary scholarship on the history and philosophy of science and culture.13 Thus, when I started studying psychohistory, I assumed (in the form of a working hypothesis) that the field is “uniform” enough in both its guiding principles and its research practice that it could be treated as a paradigmatic community. The next goal of my deliberations was to test this hypothesis – that is, to decide whether psychohistory may actually be referred to as a separate historiographic paradigm.

The empirical basis of this work is psychohistorical literature – both what we might call straight histories (based on primary sources and whose topics are actual historical events) and works written by representatives of this field in the sphere of theory and methodology. I tried to include primarily works written by “leading” authors and those that enjoy “exemplary” status in the field or at least are broadly considered, in one way or another, outstanding.

Thus, the construction of this study results from the above-described goals and assumptions. It consists of four parts. In Part I, I strive to make the very ←18 | 19→concept of “psychohistory” more precise, which (due to the interdisciplinary origins of psychohistorical inquiry) remains far from clear-cut and is entangled in a network of terms and meanings. Moreover, I further define the conceptual apparatus of the fields of methodology and historiography that I employ in later discussions. I also present the origins and evolution of psychohistorical scholarship through the end of the twentieth century. My use of this “conventional” end date is a result of the fact that it is at that point that historians’ attention turned away from psychohistory, and that, in the twenty-first century, serious theoretical debates began to die down within the community of psychohistorians. Many of those who had been attracted to this field because it was “fashionable” left, and those who remained did so by “digging themselves into” already-defined positions. In general, looking at the turbulent process by which psychohistory “grew” into history, I will attempt to determine what place the field finally established for itself as part of historiography.

Part II is devoted to analysis of the methodological thinking employed by psychohistorians in which they have articulated and discussed (among themselves and with “outside” thinkers) the basic assumptions of their methodology and research strategy. Because of the assumptions I make regarding the relationship between psychohistorians’ methodological thinking and research practice, the inquiries presented here are of great importance for decisions regarding the paradigmatic nature of the psychohistorical enterprise.

In Part III, I deal with the applied methodology of psychohistory reconstructed thanks to the analysis of selected significant works written by outstanding representatives in the field. I concentrate primarily (but not exclusively) on psychobiographical literature, the most common and dominant model for practicing psychohistorical research. I am talking here about demonstrating both the methodological specificity of actual psychohistorical investigations and the extraordinarily wide range of issues that psychohistorians have dared to undertake. The findings made here will be a decisive part of the answer to the question regarding the paradigmatic nature of the psychohistorical enterprise.

Part IV is a kind of “complement” to Part III. It consists of three detailed “studies of psychohistorical cases” – that is, works representing psychobiography, psychohistorical studies on childhood, and group psychohistory (actually one of its variants). An essential “complement” to analysis of applied psychohistorical methodology is a presentation of how this methodology functions in “practice” at the level of a single study, a single subject, and a single research undertaking. By focusing on methodological and research concreteness (in Part III I also tried to “give voice” to representatives of psychohistory in the ←19 | 20→broadest possible way),14 I have tried to encourage the reader (who might not be familiar with psychohistory, or even psychoanalysis) to enter into the peculiar “mental world” of the psychohistorian, and to introduce what the psychohistorian regards as the proper way to conduct historical research.

I do not want to hide the difficulties and challenges that I faced when writing this book, which is in fact an attempt to explore a phenomenon that is interdisciplinary. Crossing the “safe” boundaries of one’s own discipline is always risky, but at the same time it offers hope for certain intellectual benefits and deeper insight. In this case, an additional problem was that I had to take a journey toward a place that was foreign to me (and to most historians, especially Polish historians), namely the “world” of psychoanalysis and psychology. I could only do this by reading psychoanalytical and psychohistorical works. Meanwhile, as emphasized by many representatives of depth psychology (we will revisit this matter below), what offers the greatest access to such knowledge is direct contact with a psychoanalyst – that is, direct experience with analytical therapy. Unfortunately, it was not possible in my case; I can only hope that I will prove to be a “good enough” guide along all those paths that extend between historiography, psychoanalysis, and psychology.

In the end, it is my pleasure to thank people whose assistance, advice, and encouragement contributed to the value of this work. I am grateful to every one of them. Professor Jan Pomorski was the first to reveal to me the “world of psychohistory.” His support and encouragement accompanied me in various phases of this investigation. My submission of parts of this work for discussion at the methodological seminar he conducted was highly fruitful. Professors Andrzej F. Grabski and Wojciech Wrzosek provided me with valuable advice at an important stage: the construction of a plan for research into, and the writing of, this work. Professor Rudolph Binion created a unique opportunity for me to study the methodology and history of psychohistory “on the spot,” in the United States. As a scholarship holder of the Polish-American Fulbright Commission at Brandeis University, I was able to take advantage of his insightful advice, remarks, and suggestions. My stay in the USA allowed me to approach many representatives of the psychohistorical community who willingly, and with great kindness, shared with me their thoughts about their profession and allowed access to literature on the topic that is not always readily ←20 | 21→available. David Beisel, Lloyd deMause, Paul Elovitz, Peter Gay, Bruce Mazlish, and Charles Strozier (in alphabetical order) provided the greatest assistance in this regard. I also benefitted greatly from conversations with Peter Loewenberg, whom I had the opportunity to meet in Kraków (the paradox of globalization!). Tomasz Ochinowski also provided me assistance, sharing his thoughts on psychohistory and kindly making available the typescript of his publications on the topic.

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1 Until the second half of the 1990s, Polish secondary literature on the subject boils down to review articles: J. Topolski: “Co to jest psychohistoria?” in J. Topolski: Marksizm i historia (Warszawa: PIW, 1976), 308–328, and A. F. Grabski, “Dylematy psychohistorii,” in A. F. Grabski, Kształty historii (Łódź: Wyd. Łódzkie, 1985), 505–571 (only the latter article is truly valuable), along with a translation of an American work on methodology that raised psychohistorical issues as one its most important aspects: W. M. Runyan, Historie życia i psychobiografia. Badania teorii i metody, trans. from the English by J. Kasprzewski (Warszawa: PWN, 1992) (originally published as Life Histories and Psychobiography: Explorations in Theory and Method [New York-Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984]). I might also refer to a few other Polish historical texts in which psychohistory is mentioned (most notably Z. Kuchowicz, O biologiczny wymiar historii. Książka propozycji [Warszawa: PWN, 1985], 75–81). But that would be it.

2 At the end of the last century I began to publish further works devoted to psychohistory, including “Psychohistoria a psychoanaliza (z problematyki wzajemnych relacji),” in Historia, metodologia, wspołczesność, ed. J. Pomorski (Lublin: Wyd. UMCS, 1998), 117–133; “Psychobiografia jako biografia historyczna,” in Historia. Poznanie i przekaz, ed. B. Jakubowska (Rzeszów: Wyd. WSP w Rzeszowie, 2000), 125–135; “Psychohistorycy w debacie z historią,” in Światopoglądy historiograficzne, ed. J. Pomorski (Lublin: Wyd. UMCS, 2002), 157–189; Psyche i Klio. Historia w oczach psychohistoryków, selected and ed. T. Pawelec (Lublin: Wyd. UMCS, 2002). To a certain degree, this matter has been of interest to psychologists; see above all T. Ochinowski, “Metoda psychohistoryczna a badawcze problemy zarządzania,” Zarządzanie i Edukacja (1997), no. 1–2: 153–180; T. Ochinowski, “Nie tylko psychoanaliza. Wybrane problemy współpracy badawczej historii i psychologii,” Historyka 32 (2002): 62–88; T. Ochinowski, “Biografistyka historyczna i psychologia. Metodologiczne przestrzenie współpracy,” in Szkice psychologiczne. Doniesienia z badań. Aplikacje. Refleksje, ed. M. Straś-Romanowska (Wrocław: Wyd. Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego, 2002), 239–254. This author was a pioneer in his country in the effort to publish concrete psychohistorical studies: Model analizy przeżyć więźniów politycznych na terenie Polski okresu stalinowskiego (19451956) w perspektywie psychohistorycznej (unpublished doctoral thesis, Katolicki Uniwersytet Lubelski, 2000). See also comments in the following works: Z. Spendel, Podmiotowość człowieka a psychologia historyczna (Katowice: Wyd. UŚ, 1994), 40–42; Z. Zaborowski, Współczesne problemy psychologii społecznej i psychologii osobowości (Warszawa: “Profi” 1994), 253–258. Other items of interest are reviews of psychohistorical publications found from time to time (since the late 1980s) in Polish psychology periodicals. It seems that it has not been just a Polish phenomenon that representatives of psychology are more interested in “excursions” into history than historians are in psychology or psychoanalysis.

3 For more on the development of psychoanalysis in Poland until 1939 and its significance and direct ties to the main currents of analytical thought in Europe at the time, see the recently published monographs: P. Dybel, Psychoanaliza – ziemia obiecana? Z dziejów psychoanalizy w Polsce 1900–1989. Cz. I. Okres burzy i naporu: początki psychoanalizy na ziemiach polskich okresu rozbiorów 1900–1918 (Kraków: Universitas, 2016); and L. Magnone, Emisariusze Freuda. Transfer kulturowy psychoanalizy do polskich sfer inteligenckich przed drugą wojną światową (Kraków: Universitas, 2016). English versions of these texts are being prepared now.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Open Access
Publication date
2021 (February)
Applied Psychoanalysis History and Psychology Historical Scholarship in the USA Methodology of History History of Childhood Theory of History
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2021. 410 pp.

Biographical notes

Tomasz Pawelec (Author)

Tomasz Pawelec, Professor of History at the University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland. His research interests include history of historiography in Poland and the USA, the methodology of history, and collective memory. He authored or co-authored seven books and several other publications related to these areas.


Title: History and the Unconscious