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Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies pres.

EIHS Lecture: Psychoanalytic Perspectives on the Authoritarian's Allure: 1939, 2019

Elizabeth Lunbeck, Harvard University

Elizabeth Lunbeck Elizabeth Lunbeck
Elizabeth Lunbeck
Psychoanalysts writing in the 1930s and 1940s as witnesses to Europe’s embrace of fascism offered incisive accounts of their own historical moment couched in the idiom of narcissism (featuring fascination, grandiosity, and magical thinking; humiliation, helplessness, and insecurity) and drawn from psychoanalysis’s disavowed originary practices (such as hypnosis and suggestion). Individuals’ yearnings to participate in omnipotence and embrace of magical thinking sparked these analysts’ interest. In this talk, Professor Lunbeck will examine their conceptualizations of the relationship between leader and led, arguing that these offer a powerful framework within which to understand the fascinations of authoritarianism across the globe today.

Elizabeth Lunbeck is a professor of the history of science at Harvard University, offering courses in the history of the psychotherapies, of the psychological sciences, and of the fortunes of psychoanalysis in American culture. She is the author of The Psychiatric Persuasion: Knowledge, Gender, and Power in Modern America (Princeton, 1994); with Bennett Simon, of Family Romance, Family Secrets (Yale, 2003); and of The Americanization of Narcissism (Harvard, 2014). She has also co-edited a number of books in the history of science, most recently, with Lorraine Daston, Histories of Scientific Observation (Chicago, 2011). Her research has been supported by a Guggenheim Fellowship as well as by the NEH and NSF, and she has been the recipient of a Distinguished Educator Award from the International Forum for Psychoanalytic Education as well as, among other book awards, the John Hope Franklin Prize and the Morris D. Forkosch Prize.

Free and open to the public.

This event is part of the Thursday Series of the Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies. It is made possible by a generous contribution from Kenneth and Frances Aftel Eisenberg.
Elizabeth Lunbeck Elizabeth Lunbeck
Elizabeth Lunbeck

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