Freud and Historical Thought


  • Claire Phelan University of Mary Hardin Baylor



Freud, Humanity, Kairos, Leader, Unilinear, Verstehen


Historians constantly seek to understand what motivates those in positions of power to make the decisions that they do. By adopting the principles of a specific psychological approach into our analysis, it is possible to gain a more nuanced understanding of our subjects and the motivations that drive them. The application of Freud’s psychoanalytic theories seems uniquely placed to assist the historian in developing a richer interpretation of the whole person, as opposed to just one facet of an individual’s life. In addition, Freud’s insistence that we cannot progress as a civilization if we cannot recall the repressed past, seems particularly relevant today as marginalized and formerly disposed peoples struggle to reclaim their own history misrepresented in biographies written by former rulers and administrators.

Author Biography

Claire Phelan, University of Mary Hardin Baylor

Assistant Professor of HistoryDepartment of History


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