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Psychology Applied Psychology


A Psychoanalytic Look at Mass Society

by (author) Irvine Schiffer

University of Toronto Press
Initial publish date
Dec 1973
Applied Psychology, Social Psychology, Cognitive Psychology
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Dec 1973
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In this study Dr. Schiffer explores the sources and ingredients of the power of charisma. He theorizes that the image of the idealized man or charismatic leader is created by the populace at large. This hero or heroine contains a blend of the following characteristics: a spice of foreignness, some subtle stigma or defect, a calling to public service, a competitive stance against an opponent, an aura of social station and associated wealth, a certain mystique of sexuality, theatricality, and a novel lifestyle. Each individual contributes his own unique developmental conflicts and heroic imagery to the creation of this composite figure. Dr. Schiffer presents an intriguing modification of Freud’s views on group psychology, proposing the mother instead of the father as the pivotal figure in personal growth, and he extends this argument into the sphere of leadership and politics.

About the author

Irvine Schiffer is a graduate of the University of Toronto Medical School and of the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. He is a research professor in the Department of Political Economy and a professor of Applied Psychoanalysis at Victoria University in the University of Toronto. He is also president of the Canadian Institute of Psychoanalysis (Ontario) and associate director of the Canadian Institute of Psychoanalysis (Canada).

Irvine Schiffer's profile page

Editorial Reviews

‘…a work bridging two fields and larger than its title…a significant contribution to the virgin terrain of psycho-politics…extraordinary in its width and depth…penetrates to the deepest understanding of genetic origins. In an imaginative adventure of original thinking, the author carries us a step below the rock-bottom level of Freud’s Totem and Taboo and speculates on an earliest matriarchal phase in primitive man…at the other end, he throws light on the role played by the people in the leader-led relationship without which this dual interplay can never be understood.’

International Psycho-Analytical Association and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, UCLA.

‘This study is erudite, challenging…lively…particularly pertinent at a time when there are major crises of leadership in most of the world.’

Boston Psychoanalytic society and Institute and Chairman, Department of Psychiatry, Tufts University