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The Madman in the White House: Sigmund Freud, Ambassador Bullitt, and the Lost Psychobiography of Woodrow Wilson

The Madman in the White House: Sigmund Freud, Ambassador Bullitt, and the Lost Psychobiography of Woodrow Wilson


Book Overview: The Madman in the White House: Sigmund Freud, Ambassador Bullitt, and the Lost Psychobiography of Woodrow Wilson

"The extraordinary untold story of how a disillusioned American diplomat named William C. Bullitt came to Freud's couch in 1926, and how Freud and his patient collaborated on a psychobiography of President Woodrow Wilson."--Wall Street Journal

The notorious psychobiography of Woodrow Wilson, rediscovered nearly a century after it was written by Sigmund Freud and US diplomat William C. Bullitt, sheds new light on how the mental health of a controversial American president shaped world events.

When the fate of millions rests on the decisions of a mentally compromised leader, what can one person do? Disillusioned by President Woodrow Wilson's destructive and irrational handling of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles, a US diplomat named William C. Bullitt asked this very question. With the help of his friend Sigmund Freud, Bullitt set out to write a psychological analysis of the president. He gathered material from personal archives and interviewed members of Wilson's inner circle. In The Madman in the White House, Patrick Weil resurrects this forgotten portrait of a troubled president.

After two years of collaboration, Bullitt and Freud signed off on a manuscript in April 1932. But the book was not published until 1966, nearly thirty years after Freud's death and only months before Bullitt's. The published edition was heavily redacted, and by the time it was released, the mystique of psychoanalysis had waned in popular culture and Wilson's legacy was unassailable. The psychological study was panned by critics, and Freud's descendants denied his involvement in the project.

For nearly a century, the mysterious, original Bullitt and Freud manuscript remained hidden from the public. Then in 2014, while browsing the archives of Yale University, Weil happened upon the text. Based on his reading of the 1932 manuscript, Weil examines the significance of Bullitt and Freud's findings and offers a major reassessment of the notorious psychobiography. The result is a powerful warning about the influence a single unbalanced personality can have on the course of history.

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PublisherHarvard University Press
Publication Date2023-05-16
EditionFirst Edition
Dimensionsin x in x in
Weight lbs
Patrick Weil is a distinguished scholar, renowned author, and an esteemed authority on constitutional law and political history. Originally from France, Weil holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and serves as a professor at Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne University and a Senior Fellow at Yale Law School. Drawing on his vast expertise, he has contributed laudably to academia and advanced the understanding of migration, citizenship, and anti-discrimination law. Weil's scholarly contributions are impactful and extensive, including numerous research papers, articles, and well-received books such as "The Sovereign Citizen: Denaturalization and the Origins of the American Republic." His profound insights and meticulous research are regarded as invaluable resources in the academic community. His works often delve into intricate matters, simultaneously shedding light on historical perspectives and contemporary socio-political dynamics. Beyond his academic pursuits, Weil's influence spills over to policy-making circles. He's consulted by various international organizations and governments, contributing substantially to immigration and citizenship policy reforms in France. Celebrated for his keen intellect and eloquent discourse, Patrick Weil continues to shape academic thought and practical policy, further confirming his standing as a leading intellectual in his field.

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