thumbnail of New directions in social sciences; Psychopathology and politics
Hide -
New Directions in social sciences. This is the third in a series of programs prepared by the listener sponsored station KPFA in Berkeley California for distribution to the National Association of educational broadcasters. These talks delivered before the annual convention of the American Psychological Association in San Francisco point to new developments in man's exploration of himself and the world he lives in. Harold Laswell of the Yale Law School spoke to the conference on the subject. Psycho pathology and politics Harold Laswell. Their use of the present symposium may be served if I cast my remarks in the form of a reconsideration of psychic publishing politics. The members of the symposium are interested in the problems that arise in the application of psychoanalysis to any field of inquiry in the behavioral sciences and everyone shares a degree of concern from the special questions that arise when the field is jurisprudence or political science. In what sense is the sack a problem g an
application of psychoanalysis to politics. To put it negatively the book is not the work of a professional practitioner of psychoanalysis but a professional student of political behavior. Hence the psychoanalysts have grounds for disclaiming whatever they disapprove of. Twenty five years ago psychoanalysis was so new about the literature of the subject contains very few explicit applications to politics. No tradition has been established in publishing in this field. However ardently the individual analyst might be about political philosophy or practical politics. By contrast the systematic student of government had a long tradition of active concern with theories of human nature and society and hence of human nature and politics referring only to the British thinkers it's enough to recall John Locke and Thomas Hobbes and Jeremy Bentham among the classics. And Graham Morris among the Contemporary. We can say that the book is an application in at least the sense that the author
was exposed to a training analysis. He thought and obtained the two unpublished case summaries from psychoanalyst AMA from physicians or psychologist heavily indebted to Freud. He brought together the case fragments available in the literature and examined the articles and books. Few in number dealing directly with psychoanalysis and politics. He discussed theories of interrelationship with specialists and read the existing corpus of psychoanalytic literature and the appraisals of psychoanalysis made by former associates of Freud and by exponents of other schools. What Sanny and behaviorist Pavlovian Reflex ologists to Galey instinctual is very merry and perceptual externally in personal lives and function as to mention only a few. May be called an application of further and perhaps more debatable. Obtain some of the case material directly by means of life history interviews with a politically active person. The interview solicited free associations on the subject
thus obtaining a body of material more amenable to depth interpretation that was obtained by traditional methods of interviewing a participant observation. The interviews were stopped Jaques who said they were willing to live up to the cyclonic rule of speaking out everything across it. And you were provided with opportunities to associate relay to dreams slips of a tongue gestures gross body movements and to the interviewer. The programme interview was conducted with subjects who were highly diverse motivations. Some were referred by physicians who although too busy to take them as patients were willing to cover the interviewer with their medical responsibility. The situation proceeded substantially as an ordinary therapeutic interview. In some cases therapy wasn't an important motive. The principal incentive might be the opportunity to get better acquainted with the technique of free association and receive you psychologically oriented interpretation. Hence the relationship was substantially that of the Orthodox training announcers. Some subjects were willing and able to talk
about themselves but they could not or would not engage in free association. Others wanted to talk about their professional career in politics with minimum disclosure of their intimate history. It's such a subject might give little information about his sexual life. I could not live a museum for years. What it would be a mistake to exaggerate the distinction. A useful contrast can be drawn between two Moe seeking to apply psychoanalysis or indeed any other approach to the Study of Politics. The point of one is the theoretical system. The other emphasizes the observational standpoint. This specific procedures by which theoretical systems are linked in a field to a field of observation. The psychopathology was the outcome of an attempt to apply an adaptive procedure rather than to propose a formally exhausted body of applications. Our comprehensive system of theory. The choice was delivered at one time I thought of making a systematic exposition of the
theory of psychoanalysis and suggesting as many theoretical implications for politics as I think are. But a theory was at that time in rapid flux a movement of ideas was underway that presently resulted in the theory which added so much to the instinctual and super ego dimensions of the personality system as described. More important however was the fact that I was more impressed by the observational procedure innovated by Freud than by his theory or his results. The unconscious for instance wasn't Plato Plato's unconscious was even populated by the same conjuring of repressed sexual and destructive drives that reappeared in psychoanalysis. The most distinctive innovation of pride appeared to be the prolonged interview itself which employed both free association and interpretation for scientific and therapeutic purposes. The method seemed to contain within itself the seeds of its own correction. Strictly speaking only tick theory can be stated as a series of a series of predictions within the interview context itself. If a
patient begins by complaining of a paralyzed arm and proceeds to produce certain other patterns of words and movements during the early stages of interview series The interviewer may predict that after the occurrence of a number of statements about past statements accompanied by excited movements of the arms legs the paralysis will disappear. The sequence may be generalized to other cases by predicting that complaints about bodily disorder is where there is no structural incapacity. Will disappear when statements about the past of the following characteristics one they describe a situation in which it's alleged that a negatively evaluated demander synonymously drive impulse was excluded from full waking awareness. Second the negative evaluation that excluded are represented as having occurred in the context of anxiety acutely dysphoric subjective events. They're the symptom. The motor disability first appeared at this time for the current recall of early events is accompanied by evidence of anxiety explicit Decorations by the subject use of emotive
language excited movement. Five current recall comes after the appearance of activities that can be viewed as predicted. That is accusations may be directed at various figures of the past alleging that they performed acts of the kind repressed the interviewer may be accused of harboring intentions to perform acts of the kind or of having completed such acts. More generally the situation may be foreshadowed in reported dreams fantasies direct statements gestures gross bodily movements or other scientific observer may of course generalize beyond the events of the interview situation in the past this is often done without making this act explicit concept terms may be introduced that nominally referral to pre-interview events such as oral anal are phallic stages or beautiful or period of all phases of development. Generalisations may refer to post-interview events such as forecasting the successful achievement of a durable object relation to a sexual partner in a job. The generalization may span the entire sequence of events from conception to extinction. From the Primacy of Life over
destructive impostors. However ambiguous or widely extrapolated beyond the interviewer term may be. It's quite possible to give an operational definition of the context of a prolonged interview with articulate ADOX. It's of course obvious that many conceptual extensions can be formulated for scientists who occupy other standpoints such as those who work with inarticulate adult or pre language children. Each transition from one frame of reference to another requires a new set of operational indices even all the conceptual hypothetical system may be phrased in the same terminology. Considerations of this kind let me to put the primary emphasis upon psychoanalytic method rather than the theory and the fact pathology. On first glance it may seem strange to think of applying a cyclic method to the Study of Politics to talk political scientists are only incidentally interested in explaining or curing individual symptoms. Functional paralysis for example. Is a small importance even to correlate the incidence of
neurosis or psychosis and the fact that participation in politics. Long before Freud it was common to know the stock apology of Kings generals judges and other public figures as medicine advanced new disease entities were isolated and as new disease entities were isolated they were rather promptly applied to the symptoms of prominent historical figures. When the discovery of epilepsy was first in power physicians found epileptic politicians galore and everybody who knew what people in a cripple and meant by dementia praecox or paranoia. And we heard a little bit of a very promptly plinth pin this label on the cake. As early as during the opening years of the 19th century American physicians contributed to the discovery of an inverse relationship between the incidence of neurosis and such social crises as war or revolution. Now it's not to psychoanalytic psychiatry that we need to turn for knowledge of this kind that confers importance upon the
psychoanalytic method is that it's a means of discovering the place the political activity within the structure of the whole personality is shaped in the social process. This gets given before a paralytic symptom is incomplete insofar as it fails to underline the point that the symptom is to be understood in the context of the total personality and the relationships among total present Alex. When Foley applied psychoanalysis seeks to explain the choice of symptom. That is why a paralysis instead of obsession and roses. And the choice of symptom rather than trait that is quiet paralysis rather than an active agitation or roll against oppressive class enemies or imperialistic exploiters. The inference is that psychoanalysis recognizes no theory of disease as satisfactory unless it has a theory of health. In a war in a word no explanation of a partial response is valid apart from about a conception of the whole system response. The prolonged free association or free fantasy
interview is a method of disclosing the finer structure of personality systems. Whether the patterns are classifiable the symptoms or not. Hence every political belief faith loyalty or overt activity can in principle be studied by this method in order to discover the constellation of factors by which is affected and which it in turn affects. The implication is that every case that comes to the attention of a psychoanalyst is a potential contribution of political science whether it's regarded as a contribution of psychopathology or psychology or not. And irrespective of whether your Fuehrer has been accomplished or whether a therapeutic outcome has been attained with much or little insight on the part of the subject. To the extent that factors accounting for the selection of rejections are political perspectives or political rows are laid bare. We have data obvious importance to comparative political science and jurisprudence. The attraction of. Psychoanalysis for political science then is that it provides a means of investigating the
connection between the political constitution of a given body politic and individual character. A topic that's been advanced but little since Plato and Aristotle. Since the case histories taken by psycho analysts were not centrally abstracted in a way that brought out their significance for the social process it was necessary for me to find out by interviewing chiefly whether analysts could recall cases of politically active individuals and not instances where assembled to assist to sustain my initial attempt to set up provisional models of political agitators administrators and theorists and to make public some fragmentary case histories of each category. However unsatisfactory the details of the terminology may be I think that the original conception of this lack of knowledge is sound. I try to connect political row with selective empathy is within the personality system at any given cross-section of an adult's life. And to connect the selective emphases with developmental sequences. The point is made that people may play
political roles without being much interested in playing them and the people may be passionately ambitious to play politics without having the appropriate capabilities or luck. It's essential therefore to distinguish between political role and political personality and recognize that politicians may not be political personalities. And that political personalities may not be successful politicians. It's only possible to make reliable judgments about individuals when they've been studied by the methods that disclose whether political activity is a nuclear value of the personality or peripheral. The developmental study of a politically oriented individual seeks to trace and you account for the sequence from the earliest years to the assumption of a role in the decision making institutions of the community such as a legislative executive or judicial branches of government at the local state national or international level. The prolonged analytic interview if applied to a sample of any society at any given cross-section would enable us to answer such questions as these. For how many
active politicians is politics a primary battle. Facebook that to an end in itself. From our many politically inactive persons is this true. For how many active or inactive politicians for whom politics is not a prime value. Is it chiefly a means to well respect rectitude or some other social that. How does the answer vary by culture class organization crisis level. What developmental histories lie behind each pattern. I've been referring to agitators administrators and terrorists. The psychopath you're also sketched a hypothetical image of the political man as a whole. Distinct from the economic man or a personality oriented toward some other dominant value than politics. The distinction was made between politics in the conventional sense of the word and politics in a scientifically defined or functional sense. Americans talk of governmental or political activities in a conventional sense when they're
referring to institutions Labor governments political parties and pressure groups. But in the perspective of comparative political science and jurisprudence a definition is required in the pendent of conventional means. Without containing so many elements of novelties it is difficult to explain your colleagues. Such definitions are to be found in the traditional literature and so it's possible to choose and adapt existing conceptions to the problem. I selected power relations as a functional meaning of politics power relations in a society or decisions that is the important and severely sanction the choices. We speak of a choice as important according to the number of persons affected to the magnitude of the effect. Choices are severely sanctioned when serious deprivations are involved. The involvement may be immediate as when army or police forces are used in combat or law enforcement or potential as one is generally expected and the first what measures will be taken against challengers of the choice. Power relations include therefore much of what we conventionally expect to find done by
governments. But all that governments do is not an exercise of power. Since many statutes regulations or administrative judgments are not in force nor are they expected to be enforceable. It's also true that institutions other than those we call governmental may exercise affective powers by appropriate research we may discover what that effective decisions are made by feuding families or by private monopolies of capital or labor or by ecclesiastical institutions. Hence power may be an authoritative formal. And a controlling authoritative without control or controlling without authority. We speak of lawful power of pretended power and they can power. And when we examine a society in the scientific framework appropriate to comparative research we may find that the power roles may or may not be conventionally recognized as such. In the United States for instance it may be that our power roles in the functional sense include some businessman trade union leaders and publishers that are not limited to prominent senators and
representatives or top executives in the federal system. And it is conceivable that we not yet demonstrated that those who perform power roles outside the government are more often recruited from power personalities than those who perform power roles inside the government. Some captains of industry may be more focused on imposing their will on others. There are some top figures in the political party system. Must be apparent by this time why the study of politicians and the politics in general by methods largely inspired by psychoanalysis has made but modest progress today. There are thousands of political roles. It's a vast social audit to discern these roles in the conventional or the functional sense. And it's a vast task to ascertain the degree in which these roles are played by power oriented personalities. It's a huge undertaking to demonstrate the developmental sequence that results in the formation of a power centered personality and maturity. That is one who prefers to impose rather to
persuade even one persuasion would accomplish every desired outcome except the opportunity to correct and the matter is further complicated by the changing patterns of development as different modes of conduct are treated indulgently or deprivation only in the home circle the school the community at large. The relevant configuration is continually shifting through time as political roles change their relationship to personalities systems and the developmental history a personality system is in perpetual flux. And finally insight and understanding knowledge of the Self by the self intelligence concerning past decisions in the decision process enter into the vast and continual redefinition of role personality and development no doubt the psych pathology performed a positive point in pointing toward the configured study of man and context but it's obvious that a gigantic intellectual enterprise is itself an act of institution building is essential if we are to move nearer to what we can know. A major part of the task is to make the theory political personality
explicit for each important observational standpoint. The operational indices vary from standpoint standpoint isn't it. For without attempting to make an exhaustive classification of observational standpoint we may indicate some criteria by which intensiveness may be graded the most intensive procedures are with the subjects are aware of the observer and the factor being studied. And the methods of recording and processing data require specialized training and the time relationships are prolonged the prolonged cycle in that interview is a highly intensive standpoints as a subject are acutely aware of being studied by a specialist who may take many hours and possibly years to complete the observation. The standpoint is also intensive though not psychoanalytic when an observer uses a battery of tests at periodic intervals under experimental conditions or act as a participant in ordinary life situations while recording the data which is of course standard technique. The social anthropologist. The standard is much less intensive when the subject matter is restricted
to reporting and commenting upon the professional career. For example as when a judge tells his story to a legally trained person. The standpoint is even less intensive when only a few preferences and expectations of the subject they are involved or a qualified observers that they is unable to apply his distinctive method to the subject but makes inferences about him based on data obtained in other circumstances as when interpretations are given of the conduct of a witness in litigation. A prisoner awaiting trial or serving a sentence. Besides distinguishing among standpoints according to intensiveness we may add such criteria as the objectives of the protests of therapy training for example and the degree to which the objective is accomplished in the judgment of the observer who relies exclusively upon the data obtained in the situation. Now a comprehensive approach to the study of political personalities would relate every general concept to specific indices obtainable in each stand point of
observation for working purposes let us define political personality as power centric as emphasizing the power value relative to the group of which the subject is representative. Relative emphasis of course is important. Since we know that power occupies a low conscious position in various cultures social classes organizations and during enter crisis period. Suppose we relate this brief definition to one of the less complex observational standpoints called it standpoint for present purposes appropriate to the study of such politicians as judges administrators party leaders standpoint is that of an interviewer who's legally trained and who is asking not for a total history which would include information about the sex life of the subject for instance. But for a strictly professional autobiography. I assume that in standpoint no use is made of free association analytic interpretation or tests. We now specify some of the operational indices by which political
personalities may be recognised. Our indices include all statements articulating a demand to import all we sub classify according to whether the statements are by the cell about the cell or about others than the interviewer or about the interviewer. The categories can be retrieved for two then of these terms per cell. Direct expressions of satisfaction by the statement maker at having impose his will upon others. In any situations of any kind any time in his life accounts of such as or situations declarations of intention to impose himself in the future predictions of success. An elaboration of plans and forecasts anti-self statements conduct condemnations of the self for having permitted someone to impose his will upon him or get away with it. Accounts of these alleged occasions pessimistic forecasts of success in the execution of future efforts at emancipating himself or imposing his will on others and the statements of the same kind of reference to other
persons and the interviewer and to the interviewer now is it entirely satisfactory to say that all persons and groups obtaining a low score doing such a professional interviews professional situation are not political press now. No experience suggests that in some cultures it's regarded as inadmissible to make such statements to a fellow professional even in the name of science. So that term has any meaning in the culture as some of those that we have been referring to. We also know that members of different social classes are likely to differ in uttering the statements of the kind referred to and we know or at least strongly suspect that some personality systems do not tolerate such admissions. We must therefore take the results obtained in standpoint as provisional and give higher priority to the results in the more intensive standpoint as when subjects you agree to review their entire lives. Intimate or professional and accept the interviewer as professionally
qualified to receive such revelations. In any culture such as stand point or call it be for our purposes is most likely to be taken by a physician a social worker or psychologist. But it can also be occupied by a person who has little training in these professions but has a reputation for a broad experience and personal maturity. Even today we do not have enough systematic experience with the gathering of data by procedures of type to know how to relate them to the results obtained in comparable context by procedures. Now these standpoints referred to here as A and B have been discussed as means of ascertaining conscious perspectives of the person study where the psychopathology did not restrict the definition of political personality to conscious perspectives and examine the results of various observational stand points in order to bring out the unconscious as well as the conscious structure of personality. The main point of describing the unconscious is to establish developmental
sequences but they concerning the unconscious orientation is important as a final classification. The making a final classification of political roles as nuclear are peripheral in to a given personality system. Now the significant question making this distinction seems to be whether. Denials of opportunity to play a political role even a humble one will destroy the integration of the personality. Sometimes the environment performs an experiment for us and imposes these deprivations upon the individual by forcing out of office for instance. As a result the person may attempt an extreme internalisation or display sematic conversion symptoms of a severely incapacitated nature or become mentally disordered. Some of the cases which are reported in the psycho pathology came to the attention of therapist precisely because of political reverses. They were power oriented persons in the fullest sense of the definition since their capacity to continue as integrated members of society depended upon the social situation of which
they pursued an exercise of power with some measure of success. These personality systems were so rigidly oriented toward the playing of a particular set of roles that they were able to maintain their integrity when these opportunities were shut off. By examining the unconscious dimensions of the personality of a person has not yet been rebuffed. We may of course be able to predict his response to political deprivation. However in the exploration of the unconscious is carried on in a manner that enables a subbie to increases inside the prediction of course may appear to be falsified. As we said before the principal gain from observational procedures that disclose the unconscious is the understanding of developmental sequences. And that's to say the technique by which unconscious dimensions are made manifest is a technique by which past events are currently represented in the psychosomatic interview the representation image made by the reporting of the events alleged to have occurred in the past. The representation also takes the form of repetition in the presence of the past. As we know when the subject acts out the
early response even to the extent implying childhood informations and vocabulary are resuming early body postures is to be noted that many acts were initiated in the current interview situation do not have direct access to full waking awareness is being too acute but indirect expression can be obtained by historicity in the form of recalls or repetition. Now the spreading upon the current record of past reference events or past repetition events enables a scientific observer to obtain data pertinent to the reconstruction of the sequences that typically lie behind selective stress on political roles. As indicated before we must be meticulous in distinguishing between the events that occur in the interview context and the pre-interview co interview or Post interview context so it is important to keep the operational indices of each of these standpoint separate. As we know what happened in terms of the stories of passive duction and the history of analytical theory now. It is the analytical theory may be formulated in operational terms of
New directions in social sciences
Psychopathology and politics
Producing Organization
pacifica radio
KPFA (Radio station : Berkeley, Calif.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-wh2dd97d).
Episode Description
This program presents the first part of a talk by Harold Lasswell, Yale Law School, and Richard Christie, Research Center for Human Relations, called "Psychopathology and Politics."
Other Description
A series of talks delivered before the annual convention of the American Psychological Association in San Francisco.
Broadcast Date
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Producing Organization: pacifica radio
Producing Organization: KPFA (Radio station : Berkeley, Calif.)
Speaker: Lasswell, Harold D. (Harold Dwight), 1902-1978
Speaker: Christie, Richard
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 58-10-3 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:07
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “New directions in social sciences; Psychopathology and politics,” 1958-02-16, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed January 24, 2022,
MLA: “New directions in social sciences; Psychopathology and politics.” 1958-02-16. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. January 24, 2022. <>.
APA: New directions in social sciences; Psychopathology and politics. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from