Alan C. Elms
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Introduction
Chapter 1 (Uncovering...) [pdf]
Reviews
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Uncovering Lives Reviews

Kirkus Reviews: "One of the best books ever written about biography, psycho- or otherwise."

Contemporary Psychology: “For those interested in the field of psychobiography or in the psychological study of individual lives, this is a long-awaited book that richly fulfills its promise. . . . For those unfamiliar with the field, it provides a nearly ideal introduction, containing a fascinating and, in some cases, unforgettable set of case studies, along with guidelines for research. Perhaps more forcefully than can be made through abstract argument, this volume provides the reader with a visceral feel for how much psychobiography can contribute to understanding the personal side of psychology, literature, and politics: the personal side of the culture all around us. I found the book a pleasure to read; it is thoughtful, seriously researched, and well written, with a genial sense of humor. I have had the chance to use it in a class, and students volunteered with amazement that they actually enjoyed the book . . . ”

Psychohistory Review: “The explicit purpose of Elms' book is modest: it is to promote psychobiography, to demonstrate that reading and, even more, writing psychobiography is just plain fun - and can be fun even when it is done in a responsible and nonreductive manner. And yet the book does more than that, I think. Uncovering the human beings behind the psychological writings, the literary works, even the political actions is presented here as enriching our appreciation of people and that which they create. By adding the human dimension to text and deed, Uncovering Lives makes a thoughtful, convincing, even passionate appeal for a humanistic psychology and for the value of psychological understanding. That high-minded assessment of its significance notwithstanding, Elms' book does make psychobiography fun.”

New York Times Book Review: “[Mr. Elms] impressively documents the history of what he calls 'one of the autobiographical masterpieces of the 20th century,' Jung's posthumous Memories, Dreams, Reflections (1963). Paragraph by paragraph, he describes the changes made to Jung's original manuscript, and then elaborates the stories behind the changes, especially the reasons for the bowdlerizations by Jung's family and supporters even before Jung's death in 1961. But it is Mr. Elms's chapter on the behaviorist B. F. Skinner that steals what show tbere is in Uncovering Lives. Mr. Elms not only provides intriguing biographical information (including Skinner's unfulfilled plan to write a book on the psychology of literature), he also gives a fascinating account of the psychological issues at work in Skinner's life and career.”

Magill Book Review: “A sensitive and comprehensive study of what is often called psychobiography, suggesting that both biographers and psychologists need to take a more eclectic approach and that both psychology and biography have the potential to strengthen each other. Alan C. Elms writes in a reasonable and shrewd tone. . . . He strengthens his book enormously by providing many examples of his own psychobiographies so that readers have both his theoretical arguments and his practice to evaluate.”

New Scientist: "In a wonderfully gossipy book, Elms makes an important if obvious case. To understand what writers, artists and scientists produce, you need to analyse not just the work but the life. . . . Elms is sharp on the psychology of the science fiction writers of the 1930s and 40s. He shows most were magnificent misfits. . . . Psychologists and politicians also come under Elms's scalpel. . . . Read Elms--and enjoy."

Booklist: "Elms evaluates good and bad psychobiography and offers suggestions for improving its quality, validity, and usefulness. . . . Elms proposes a responsible methodology for psychobiography and provides some instructive examples of his own . . . . In each instance, he considers the ethics, viability, and great value of high-quality psychobiography."


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