The Psychohistory of Child Maltreatment Among Antebellum Slaveholders, Kenneth Alan Adams

ABSTRACT: Examining the inner workings of the slaveholder family, including slave caretakers, this article probes the psychodynamics of slaveholder development to assess the extent of child abuse in the Old South. Childcare was haphazard and premised on paternal absence, maternal ambivalence, and the exigencies of slave surrogacy. Corporal punishment, sanctified by southern religion, was the rule. The likelihood of slave negligence and retaliatory attacks against slaveholder children are addressed. Childrearing practices such as swaddling, aunt adoption, and maternal incest are considered, as well as the possible usage of a West African cleansing ritual. The article classifies planter families within the Ambivalent Mode of parent-child relations and suggests the restaging of childhood trauma as the underlying dynamic in the march to civil war.

Psychohistorical Hypotheses on Japan’s History of Hostility Towards China, Bo Wang and Floyd Rudmin

ABSTRACT: The accelerating tensions and military posturing between Japan and China have created a serious crisis with a danger of a catastrophic war. The purpose of this paper is to summarize the events of the current crisis, and to put it in the context of Japan’s long history of hostility to China and repeated attempts at conquest. The historical record shows that Japan has attacked China at least seven times, even though China has never attacked Japan. The irrationality of Japan’s behavior is demonstrated by the repetition of this hostile behavior despite the enormous human and economic costs that Japan has suffered because of it. The irrationality of Japan’s militarism suggests that psychological explanations may be required to understand this phenomenon. Several hypotheses are proposed, including 1) projected paranoid aggression, 2) collective Zeigarnik compulsion, 3) perceived weakness exciting aggression, 4) national inferiority feelings, 5) cultural narcissism, and 6) Oedipal-like hatred of a parent culture.

Sacrifice, the Bush Way: From Self to Others,  Marc-André Cotton

Abstract: The Walker Bush dynasty has marked the last American century, promoting “corporate democracy” as a means to expand its wealth. As 43rd President of the United States, George Walker Bush’s biography illustrates how the members of our powerful elite sacrifice the inner self of their own children for the sake of political success. In his case, the childrearing violence and emotional neglect he experienced created the psychological basis for his later re-enactments as commander-in-chief in the wake of 9/11. From that standpoint, his intergenerational legacy of trauma bears strong affinities with that of the nation as a whole. This paper examines George W. Bush’s paternal inheritance, the problem of maternal abuse and its subsequent psychic wounds, as well as the impact of an unresolved grief after the loss of his younger sister, Robin. Restaging childhood traumas as a vengeful young adult at Yale, before getting involved in dirty politics, Bush supported unlawful hazing practices. Then, as Governor of Texas he promoted the death penalty and a zero-tolerance approach to juvenile offenders. Controversial decisions of the Bush administration regarding the Enhanced Interrogation Program, the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and many others are further scrutinized as collective re-enactments of abuse deeply engrained in American society.

I Want to Believe: A Short Psychobiography of Mary Baker Eddy, Taylor Wilson Dean

Abstract: The 18th and 19th centuries were beset with new religious movements in the United States: Shakers, Latter Day Saints, Millerites, and Seventh Day Adventists to name a few. One group, Christian Science, held radically different views than their counterparts and their origins lay in the most unlikely of places, a perpetually ill and poor woman from New Hampshire. Much has been said about Mary Baker Eddy: some say that she was a prophet, others that she was a fraud. Herein no such judgments are made. This study seeks to look into the life of Mary Baker Eddy from a psychological lens in the hopes that insight can be gained into the founding of the First Church of Jesus Christ Scientist and perhaps to allay the binary of Mrs. Eddy as either prophet or fanatic.


Outrage Meets Outrageousness: The Populist Logic Behind Trump’s Surprising Popularity, Leon F. Seltzer

Abstract: Trump’s popularity is not restricted by his outrageousness but actually advanced by it. Despite embodying so many qualities that, at least consciously, most people would disapprove of, he remains a force to be taken seriously. For he speaks “eloquently” to (or perhaps “cons”?) so many—particularly on the political right—who are filled with animosity for all that has left them feeling disenfranchised. However crassly, his voice powerfully addresses their distress, discontent, and sense of abandonment. Finally, it’s the seething outrage stemming from their feeling betrayed by the System that has made not so much Trump’s positions but his indiscriminate put-downs, condemnations, and bullying so surprisingly effective. Appealing to those who believe they’ve played by the rules, only to have been exploited for doing so, plays beautifully into his defiantly “unruly” behavior—his not only refusing to abide by conventional standards of conduct but even mocking them. And curiously, his backers regard such defiance as an act of strength and leadership. Illusory or not, embracing him as one of their own offers them the comfort and control that over time they feel has been taken away from them.


Totalitarian Caliphate, Anna Geifman, ISIS: The State of Terror, Jessica Stern and J. M. Berger, (HarperCollins: New York, 2015, 385pp.

ISIS: The State of Terror by Jessica Stern and J. M. Berger is a gripping story about the emerging Islamic caliphate, from its political debut in 2014 and literally through the book’s publication date in 2015. The endeavor to understand the essence of the still developing phenomenon is daring indeed, especially because the authors neither make light of its magnitude, nor reduce it to local or regional politics. Their account is necessarily journalistic. Though wide-ranging, not all of their sources are verifiable. Nevertheless, the reader is grateful for their lucid, free-flowing writing and avoidance of academic jargon, for their “personal voice” when expressing viewpoints, for their graciously integrated disclosure of sentiments, and for occasional psychological insights.

Stern and Berger begin their account by setting the scene in the desolate d Iraq. There, multifarious Jihadist forces have been collaborating and competing for political control after the US effort to instill democracy in the country had left it with a gaping power vacuum. The book shows that for years, amid rampant bloodshed and convoluted secularism, the Al Qaeda has been the strongest among the extremist Islamist groups — until emir Abu Bakr al Baghdadi flouted its leadership by mobilizing supporters for an expansion into the neighboring Syria, ravaged by the on-going civil war. Al Baghdadi declared the formation of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and in June 2014 defied the Al Qaeda’s policies again by announcing the reinstatement of the caliphate, the Islamic empire. From then on, it was to be known simply as the Islamic State (IS). According to Stern and Berger, al Baghdadi, now entitled “Caliph Ibrahim,” dropped “Iraq and Syria” to underscore his regime’s “global claim of domination.”