DL Fowler's Blog

Lincoln’s Blackouts

Lincoln’s law partner, Herndon, described episodes when he’d find Lincoln sitting in a catatonic state from which he couldn’t be aroused. Often there’d be a book of poetry in his lap.

No one has any idea of what went on in Lincoln’s head during those episodes. He never talked about them.

One possibility is that were flashbacks of an earlier trauma that his body was defending himself against. That happens to people who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Lincoln suffered several traumatic moments early on. At 7 he almost drowned, at 9 he suffered a life-threatening head injury, and months later helped bury his mother, at 10 his father left him and his sister to weather a brutal winter unattended and on the brink of starvation, as a teenager his father beat him often and when he was just past 20 his first love died. Lincoln’s emotional responses to these and other events are explored in Lincoln Raw-a biographical novel.

Maybe his psyche just went into overload from processing flashbacks of too many traumas at once.

Would we let someone with that much emotional baggage be President today?

Author Interview at PaperBackSwap.com

The folks at PaperBackSwap.com were kind enough to interview me on their blog. Here’s a link to our conversation. We talked about being how is it was for me, a man, to write from a female character’s POV, Lincoln’s psychology, my biggest influences and a few other things.  Hope you’ll take time to check it out.

And PaperBackSwap.com is a well done platform. Only, whenever my book goes up, it’s snatched up in a matter of minutes. So either you have to be fast , or more people need to share Lincoln’s Diary – a novel.

Lincoln Trivia Question #1

As I travel the country in coming months, promoting my new book, Lincoln’s Diary – a novel, I’ll be engaging readers with some tidbits about the real Abraham Lincoln. Focusing on some thngs they never told us in school. There will even be prizes for people who invest in some research to answer the trivia questions on my website.

So here’s some help on your research, one of the questions – and the answer:

What was the name of the boy who saved Lincoln from drowning in Knob Creek when he was just 7 years old?

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Fourth Random Installment – Lincoln’s Diary

Posted in Kindle, Lincoln's Diary, Lincoln's Melancholy, Nook, Print Edition, Reading by DLFowler on February 26, 2011

As Sarah coaxed the door open just a crack, she stiffened her resolve and squinted into the dimness, inhaling a whiff of stale, dusty air. She opened the door a bit wider and scanned for hiding places, shadows along the corners of stacked boxes or abandoned furniture. She even studied silhouetted edges of support posts, anywhere Mom could be lurking, ready to chastise her when she stepped across the threshold. Scratchy recordings of Mom’s scoldings echoed in her head.   Sarah always cringed at Mom’s voice telling her “No” for venturing up to the attic or for demanding the truth that was owed her. But of course, Mom wouldn’t be up there this time; Mom was dead.

One step across the threshold, Sarah opened her eyes wide, taking in everything at once. A few boxes next to the wardrobe caught her attention. She edged toward them and lifted the lid from the box on top of the stack; it was full of Grandma Cassie’s things. A dusty picture caught her attention and made her smile. The photograph showed her leaning playfully into Grandma’s side. Mom stood stiffly, half an arm’s length away from them.

Sarah couldn’t remember who snapped the photo, but she remembered the occasion.  It would have been her fourteenth birthday, the only time she got to wear that necklace. Mom yanked it off her neck the next morning when she finally noticed it. Mom was sure a boy had given it to her, and she was right. His name was Nick.

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How Would Lincoln Have Scored on Myers-Briggs?

For you Myers-Briggs fans, I’m trying to pigeonhole Abraham Lincoln’s personality type ala Carl Jung’s perspective. If you’re not up to speed on Jung’s personality types and the Myers Briggs Type Indicators, click here. By the way, the best book I’ve read on Lincoln was Lincoln’s Melancholy by Joshua Wolf Shenk. I would have enjoyed his insight into this subject, but its’ something he didn’t address directly.

 In my research, I’ve seen three takes on the question. ENFJ, INTJ and INFJ.  Okay, so the N and J are solid. There’s agreement that Lincoln gave greater weight to ideas that to things he could touch and feel – that’s the N part. And he was decisive – that’s where the J comes in. The controversy is over whether he was an introvert or extrovert and if his decisions were driven by logic or relationships.

 And this is where it gets messy.

 If Lincoln was introverted, he would have tended to mask his weakest strong trait. So he would have shown his thinking skills to hide his sensitivity to relationship issues, or he would have focused attention on relationship issues so he didn’t have to expose his logic to criticism. If he was extroverted, that kind of masking wouldn’t have fit.

 Since Lincoln was renowned for his debating skills, his almost faultless logic, ENFJ seems to drop to the back of the pack in this three-horse race. And by default, INFJ would move into the lead.

A couple of observations add weight to the introversion argument. First, he withdrew inside himself frequently. So much so at times that he could block out all sensory stimuli. His associates couldn’t even shake him out of his trance-like states. He also brooded often, sometimes spiraling into near-suicidal episodes of depression.

And the masking of F with T may have been one of his most practiced skills. So much so that he never shrank from a debate, even surrounding himself with critics. He appointed one such detractor to the Supreme Court as Chief Justice. When his appointee argued that the Emancipation Proclamation was unconstitutional Lincoln argued that he had power as Commander-in-Chief to appropriate enemy property to advance the war effort. But if slaves weren’t property, no emancipation was necessary. The slaves were already free.

When his adversaries pointed to the Tenth Amendment to justify deferring to the various states to settle the slavery issue for themselves, Lincoln countered that the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution, was the higher law. Therefore, no part of the Constitution could be used to give authority to the institution of slavery.

 Notice that in each case the primary motivator for Lincoln’s decision based on human relationships – specifically the humane treatment of enslaved people. The logic was used means to an end, not the end in itself.

 Lincoln’s struggle with relationships was the common thread running through his entire life. From his mother’s death to surviving a brutal winter with his sister during his father’s absence – from the loss of his first love to his heartbreaking marriage – from being estranged from his father to losing two of his sons – and the loss of several family members in the war that he was often accused of starting – his live was defined by broken unions that he was impotent to save.

 So what kind of person was Abraham Lincoln? An extrovert? An introvert? A man who made decisions based on how they impacted people’s lives and relationships. Or someone who towed the line of facts and logic, regardless of where they led?

 What do you think?

Some Lincoln Trivia Fun

Posted in Lincoln, Lincoln Trivia, Lincoln's Diary, My Books, Research by DLFowler on December 31, 2010

While I was researcing LINCOLN’S DIARY – a novel, I came across some intriguing tidbits about Mr. Lincoln. Below are some questions I developed for a trivia contest that I posted on a previous blog.  No contest this time, but see how many you can answer:

  1. What was the name of the boy who saved Lincoln from drowning in Knob Creek when he was just 7 years old?
  2. What was Abraham Lincoln’s official position on US Patent #6469, and what was the patent for?
  3. On January 20, 1841, Lincoln completed an aggressive medical treatment for a severe bout of depression.  What was his doctor’s name?
  4. At what age did Lincoln go hunting for the last time, and what animal did he shoot?
  5. Who read the read the Declaration of
    Independence in public at the Portsmouth, MA town square on July 4, 1860?
  6. First Lady Mary Lincoln celebrated the New Year of 1863 at a seance in the Georgetown home of Cranstoun Laurie.  What was the name (first and last) of the friend who accompanied her?
  7. Even though Mary Lincoln promised a close friend that she wouldn’t leave her husband while he was president, rumor has it that she almost eloped from the White House with another man.  Who was the man she allegedly planned to elope with from the White House?
  8.  Who said the following – “I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me, and causes me to tremble for the safety of our country. Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people, until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the republic is destroyed. “
  9. In March 1837 an acquaintance suggested to Lincoln that he become a lawyer.  What was the name of the person who urged Lincoln to become a lawyer?
  10. On June 8, 1864 Abraham Lincoln broke a 30 year tradition in American presidential politics.  What did he do?
  11. After Lincoln stopped riding the circuit in 1857, Metamora’s first resident lawyer moved to town. He lived in a two story colonial style house about a block from the town square. What was his name?

Did Lincoln Plan His Own Assassination?

The better question is what would possess him to do so?  

Now this is not my question. Joshua Shenk prompted me to think about this possibility through his book, Lincoln’s Melancholy.  But everything that followed is a product of my fertile (some would call it compost pile) imagination.

In Lincoln’s Diary – a novel, Sarah Sue Morgan wants the truth. But when the truth includes an unpublished Lincoln diary that may prove the sixteenth President arranged his own assassination, the truth could kill.

Lincoln had motivation, opportunity and means.  Means you ask – consider that Booth was his favorite actor (Lincoln loved the theater). Lincoln would have welcomed him into the presidential box – he didn’t have to jimmy the lock. Booth was at the White House days before the assassination.  Lincoln’s bodyguard was in the vicinity of the Surrat boarding house while Booth met with co-conspirators. Conspiracy theorists have long argued that Booth had inside help.  Could Lincoln have been his co-conspirator?

Well, he knew he was losing his battle for a conciliatory plan of Reconstruction.  Would it have crossed his mind that martyrdom might push his plan forward?  I mean, after he threatened to hang himself during a cabinet meeting. Twice he was on suicide watch during his early adult life.

Okay, so at this point you’re still thinking – no way.  But then again, you haven’t seen everything that’s in Lincoln’s Diary – a novel. Oh yes, it’s fiction. But isn’t life supposed to be stranger than fiction?