Uncovering Lives: The Uneasy Alliance of Biography and Psychology

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Psychobiography is often attacked by critics who feel that it trivializes complex adult personalities, "explaining the large deeds of great individuals," as George Will wrote, "by some slight the individual suffered at a tender age--say, 7, when his mother took away a lollipop." Worse yet, some writers have clearly abused psychobiography--for instance, to grind axes from the right (Nancy Clinch on the Kennedy family) or from the left (Fawn Brodie on Richard Nixon)--and others have offered woefully inept diagnoses (such as ...

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