Our Methodology

Psychohistorians have a variety of approaches. Below are some of the methodological approaches that have been invaluable in Paul Elovitz’ research, writing, and teaching:

  • Stress the importance of starting with primary sources
  • In doing psychobiography, focus on early childhood development and the family background (including transgenerational transmission of traumas as well as values) in the context of the whole lifespan
  • Pay close attention to coping mechanisms and the mechanisms of defense
  • Lead with empathy in your research and find a part of the subject’s life where you can empathize. Paul Elovitz finds a part of a person’s life that he can empathize with, usually childhood. To empathize is not to condone!
  • Encourage psychohistorians to examine their own motivations for choosing a particular subject, their countertransference, and projections
  • Examine identity issues in the life histories of our subjects
  • Probe the difference between conscious intention and unconscious motivation
  • Search for the unconscious in dreams, slips of the tongue, the subject’s life’s work, etc.
  • Investigate the role of trauma in the subject’s life and the ability to overcome it
  • Assess the interpersonal relations of the psychobiographical subject, avoiding making psychiatric diagnosis
  • In researching a subject in a culture other than one’s own, immerse yourself in the nuances and values of the culture
  • Utilize interdisciplinary approaches in your research
  • To establish a nurturing holding environment for all presenters doing psychohistory meetings to nurture their projects. Empathy for the presenter and insight is our ideal, rather than the academic one-upmanship of so many academic meetings

We hope you will join in our important endeavor of writing and publishing quality psychohistory.

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