Papers in Psychobiography

Papers in Psychobiography

I thought I’d post links to some old work here, stuff that may be hard to find. I can’t say I love these pieces equally. In fact, a few are (to me) almost cringeworthy, but then you keep growing and keep getting better and better. Every new project almost invalidates the old! Not totally of course. Or maybe not at all. Anyway, here are a set of old pieces. I may add more over time.

  1. My very first academic publication. What I was interested in here was the connection between early loss and creativity, especially in writers. Subjects are James Agee and Jack Kerouac: an orpheus complex in Agee and Kerouac
  2. When my kids were little they went through a serious “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” phase. For several weeks we watched the film almost every day. Slowly an interpretation dawned on me and after looking into it, I decided to write it up. Loss figures in this essay too, so in some ways it’s a continuation of the article above. finding fate’s father Roald Dahl and loss and Wonka
  3. I wrote this in a shed in my backyard. The subject is Ludwig Wittgenstein’s fear of death/suicide and its effect on his philosophizing. Wittgenstein and death fear
  4. This one is pretty bad but parts still seem valid and/or interesting. It’s a floridly Freudian interpretation of James Agee’s masterpiece “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.” James Agee Let us now praise famous men
  5. I wrote this during a time I was very involved in Buddhism and thinking about things like satori and much more. It’s on Oscar Wilde’s prison experience and the psychology of epiphany. Prison as a turning point Oscar Wilde
  6. I like this piece. It’s dark and dense and feisty. I wrote it in an isolated cabin on the Oregon coast and the setting fit the theme: Sylvia Plath and her attempts to hate her parents into valuelessness. mourning melancholia & Sylvia Plath
  7. A methodological chapter I also like a lot on how to strike psychological paydirt in biographical data. In two parts: striking paydirt in biographical data 1 striking paydirt in biographical data 2
  8. This is short, also sort of methodological, and lots newer. The person I talk about most here is Bowie. behind the masks
  9. About Peaches Geldof. This is a remembrance rather than a psychobiography. Peaches talks about the trauma of fame. I adored her and miss her. Peaches and me
  10. Now, stuff that is newer (relatively). A book chapter on the Psychobiography of Genius in which I discuss one genius (Capote) and one non-genius (George W. Bush), and a review article from American Psychologist on Psychobiography Theory and Method. Psychobiography of Genius Psychobiography Theory and Method
  11. A never published essay on Jack Kerouac and how the loss of his brother Gerard prefigured so much of his fiction and fueled his need to write, with the un-shy title “The Whole Reason Jack Kerouac Ever Wrote At All” Kerouac Psychobiography 
  12. From my book on Truman Capote, chapter one. The book is “Tiny Terror: Why Truman Capote (Almost) Wrote Answered Prayers.” Tiny Terror Capote Chapter One
  13. Then finally (for now), here is the first chapter from my book on photographer Diane Arbus (“An Emergency in Slow Motion: The Inner Life of Diane Arbus“). diane arbus essential mysteries