Lloyd deMause

American thinker

Lloyd deMause (born September 19, 1931) is an American psychologist known for his work in the field of psychohistory. He is the founder of The Journal of Psychohistory.

Lloyd deMause



The History of Childhood (1974)


Online text

  • The history of childhood is a nightmare from which we have only recently begun to awaken. The further back in history one goes, the lower the level of child care, and the more likely children are to be killed, abandoned, beaten, terrorized, and sexually abused. It is our task here to see how much of this childhood history can be recaptured from the evidence that remains to us. That this pattern has not previously been noticed by historians is because serious history has long been considered a record of public not private events. Historians have concentrated so much on the noisy sand-box of history, with its fantastic castles and magnificent battles, that they have generally ignored what is going on in the homes around the playground. And where historians usually look to the sandbox battles of yesterday for the causes of those of today, we instead ask how each generation of parents and children creates those issues which are later acted out in the arena of public life.
    • Ch. 1, The Evolution of Childrearing, opening paragraph.

Foundations of Psychohistory (1982)


Online text Foundations of Psychohistory

  • Written history may, in the course of its narrative, use some of the laws established by the various sciences, but its own task remains that of relating the essential sequence of historical action and, qua history, to tell what happened, not why.
    • Ch. 2, The Independence of Psychohistory, p. 85.
  • Psychohistory, as a science, will always be problem-centered, while history will always remain period-centered. They are simply two different tasks.
    • Ch. 2, ibid.
  • Whole great chunks of written history are of little value to the psychohistorian, while other vast areas which have been much neglected by historians — childhood history, content analysis of historical imagery, and so on — suddenly expand from the periphery to the center of the psychohistorian's conceptual world, simply because his or her own new questions require material nowhere to be found in history books.
    • Ch. 2, ibid.
  • There is, for instance, only one page at the beginning of Runciman's three-volume History of the Crusades describing how the participants decided to begin four hundred years of wars, and then several thousand pages devoted to the routes, battles and other events which make up the "history" of the Crusades.
    • Ch. 2, p. 86.
  • I have been accused of being ignorant of economics (although I am the founder and Chairman of the Board of a company which publishes seven professional economic newsletters), of being ignorant of sociology (although I am trained in sociology and was C. Wright Mills' research assistant at Columbia), of being unable to use statistics (although I earned my living as a professional statistician for five years) and of ignoring political factors (although all my graduate training was in political science).
    • Ch. 2, ibid.
  • Historians are presumed to be unable to "do psychology," which is "mystical" anyway, so they are forced to accept the most "rational" explanations... "and it is on these that history is built."
    • Ch. 2, p. 88.
  • Psychohistory, like psychoanalysis, is a science in which the researcher's feelings are as much or even more a part of his research equipment than his eyes or his hands. [...] Weighing of complex motives can only be accomplished by identification with human actors, the usual suppression of all feeling preached and followed by most "science" simply cripples a psychohistorian as badly as it would cripple a biologist to be forbidden the use of a microscope. The emotional development of a psychohistorian is therefore as much a topic for discussion as his or her intellectual development.
    • Ch. 2, p. 100.
  • I no longer believe that most traditional historians are emotionally equipped, even with training, to use their feelings as psychohistorical research tools, although there is a whole new generation of psychohistorians just now beginning to write who are able to do so. To expect the average historian to do psychohistory is like trying to teach a blind man to be an astronomer [...]. Whenever I speak to a scholar of the emotional development necessary to make a good psychohistorian and get a blank look of total incomprehension, I try to find a way to leave the subject of psychohistory altogether. My listener usually is in another world of discourse where emotional reactions are not considered crucial to the results.
    • Ch. 2, ibid.

The Emotional Life of Nations (2002)


Online text The Emotional Life of Nations

  • Indeed, most of what is in history books is stark, raving mad —the maddest of all being the historian's belief that it is sane. For some time now, I often cry when I watch the evening news, read newspapers, or study history books, a reaction I was trained to suppress in every school I attended for 25 years. In fact, it is because we so often switch into our social alters when we try to study history that we cannot understand it —our real emotions are dissociated. Those who are able to remain outside the social trance are the individuals whose personal insights are beyond those of their neighbors.
    • Ch. 5, pp. 108-109.
  • Sociologists and historians have avoided looking for the family sources of wars and social violence. Whenever a group produces murderers, the early parental relationship must have been abusive and neglectful. Yet this elementary truth has not even begun to be considered in historical research; just stating that poor mothering lies behind wars seems blasphemous.
    • Ch. 6, p. 153.
  • Anthropologists have promulgated the myth of the peaceful savage so effectively that when actual deaths by war are tabulated for prestate simple societies, one is astonished by how such a notion can continue to be taught to students.
    • Ch. 6, p. 219.
When I published the results of my research into both historical and cross-cultural childhoods, documenting how childhood both in the past and in other cultures has been massively idealized, both historians and anthropologists concluded that I surely must have been mad. As Melvin Konner put it in his book Childhood:
Lloyd deMause, then editor of the History of Childhood Quarterly, claimed that all past societies treated children brutally, and that all historical change in their treatment has been a fairly steady improvement toward the kind and gentle standards we now set and more or less meet. [...] Now anthropologists — and many historians as well — were slack-jawed and nearly speechless. [...] Serious students of the anthropology of childhood beginning with Margaret Mead have called attention to the pervasive love and care lavished on children in many traditional cultures.
The only way to disprove this widespread opinion about parenting in traditional cultures is to examine what anthropologists have written and see whether their evidence actually shows something other than "pervasive love and care lavished on children". In order that the effects of culture contact with the West may be kept to a minimum, I will concentrate here on child rearing in New Guinea, with a few forays into nearby areas, because Western contact was in these areas both late and minimal as compared with Africa and other areas. [...]
Margaret Mead, for instance, kept infanticide out of the published reports, but wrote in her letters such observations as "we've had one corpse float by, a newborn infant; they are always throwing away infants here." [...] Anthropologists commonly pass over these statistics quickly.
Ch. 7, pp. 257-259.
  • Most ethnologists scrupulously avoid describing how these children feel about participating in the killing or eating of their siblings.
    • Ch. 7, p. 261.
  • As with infanticide, the sexual abuse of children is widely reported by anthropologists, but in positive terms. [...] "This would not constitute 'abuse' if in that society the behavior was not proscribed". Like all other anthropologists who report the regular masturbating and sucking of children's genitals, he [L.L. Langness] calls this "love".
    • Ch. 7, pp. 262-263 & 266.
  • Anthropologists have concluded that "child abuse...is virtually unknown" in New Guinea.
    • Ch. 7, p. 273.
  • Although one anthropologist mentioned that "undoubtedly these rituals are exceedingly painful," they are not usually considered traumatic to children. Since empathy with children's feelings is nearly absent, gratuitous mutilation of the children is common, such as tightly binding newborn infant's heads for months to elongate the skull, or [...].
    • Ch. 7, pp. 276-277.
  • Most historians have been as little able to feel empathy for infants sent to wet nurses as the mothers themselves were.
    • Ch. 8, p. 318.
  • It is no wonder that historians have chosen to hide, deny and whitewash the record here uncovered.
    • Ch. 8, p. 379.
  • That dissociated selves were an everyday part of life in antiquity and the Middle Ages is a much-denied fact of historians, just as anthropologists deny that their subjects are dissociated personalities who live in an animistic world full of alters inhabiting animals, objects, and dead ancestors.
    • Ch. 9, pp. 381-382.

The Origins of War in Child Abuse (2010)

  • But until my Journal of Psychoanalytical Anthropology began to be published and until my book The Emotional Life of Nations came out, few realized how much anthropologists distorted mothering in their tribes.
    • Ch. 1, JP, Vol. 34. No. 4, p. 299 (each chapter of deMause's book has been published first in his Journal of Psychohistory).
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