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April 1967

The Psychoanalysis of Historical Characters

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1967;16(4):389. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1967.01730220001001

THE psychological study of Woodrow Wilson by Freud and Bullitt1 has aroused an almost universal negative reaction from literary and professional reviewers. Fremont-Smith2 in the New York Times demands from psychoanalysis "the same critical discrimination of thought that are the customary standards of responsible intellectual endeavor." Curley3 in the Chicago Sun Times states: "From now on we should be as leery of Freudian methodologies when applied to politics as we have learned to be of Wilsonian rhetoric." An editorial in a Newsletter of the American Psychiatric Association4 states: "There will be little left of the reputations of public men if all of them must survive posthumous psychoanalysis based on the notes of their enemies."

Freud started the fashion of analyzing writers as well as historical characters such as Shakespeare, Leonardo da Vinci, and even Moses. Many of his students

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