CITE: DeMause, L. The New Psychohistory. Journal of Psychohistory, 16(4), 363-370. 1988


“The New Psychohistory” is a journal article by Lloyd deMause that discusses the development and current state of psychohistory, a field that combines psychology and history to analyze the psychological motivations and emotional states of historical figures and societies. DeMause argues that psychohistory can provide valuable insights into the collective unconscious of a culture, and can help us better understand the psychological roots of social and political events.


  • DeMause argues that psychohistory can provide a unique perspective on history that goes beyond traditional political, economic, and social analyses. By focusing on the emotional and psychological states of historical actors, psychohistory can shed light on the underlying motivations and beliefs that shaped historical events.
  • DeMause identifies a number of themes and patterns in the field of psychohistory, including a focus on the “psychic origins of history,” an emphasis on the childhood experiences of historical figures, and an interest in the collective unconscious of cultures.
  • DeMause notes that psychohistory has faced criticism from some quarters, including accusations of overreliance on speculation and a lack of empirical evidence. However, he argues that these criticisms are often unfair, and that psychohistory has much to offer the study of history.


  • “Psychohistory…combines psychological insight with historical knowledge, revealing the complex interplay of childhood experience, culture, and social structure that has shaped our collective past” (p. 363).
  • “Psychohistory is not concerned with the immediate social, political or economic factors that determine behavior, but rather with the deep, often unconscious processes that shape and direct these factors” (p. 364).
  • “Psychohistorians today are not bound by the restraints that formerly limited the discipline. By analyzing the emotional and symbolic meaning of events and leaders in the past, psychohistory can reveal hitherto unsuspected meanings in history” (p. 366).
  • “The very concept of childhood, its role in human development, the effects of different styles of child-rearing on the psyche of the child, and the relationship of these childhood experiences to later social and political behavior, are all questions that psychohistory is uniquely equipped to answer” (p. 368).
  • “Psychohistory provides a new way of looking at the past that enlarges our vision, broadens our sympathies, and deepens our understanding of ourselves” (p. 370).
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