Psychobiography on the couch: character, biography, and the comparative study of leaders

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This article endorses the call for the study of leadership character made as part of a symposium presented in a 1990 issue of JABS. In doing so it outlines three aspects of the significance of character (synthesis, meaning, and causation) to enhance further the biographical study of leaders suggested by Kaplan and Kets de Vries in the symposium. A framework is provided to facilitate the detailed comparative biographical study of leaders' careers both across time and across cultures. On the basis of the author's own biographical research, the article cautions against the uncritical use of various psychoanalytic theories. It is argued that psychoanalytic explanations will retain their significance in accounting for a leader's behavior; but that increasingly these explanations must be accompanied by evidence of an organic or medical variety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-358
Number of pages16
JournalThe Journal of applied behavioral science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1993

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