DL Fowler's Blog

Confession: I Went to a Library … I Had No Other Choice

Posted in Lincoln Raw, Lincoln's personality, Lincoln's Psychology, Research by DLFowler on September 11, 2017

Sounds terrible, right? I mean the “had no other choice part.” Don’t judge me so quickly. It gets worse.

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Political Theater

A recent news item reminded me of an ominous episode of political theater that took place some 153 years and twelve days ago. Now don’t get me wrong. It’s not my intent in this post to compare or contrast the two occasions, or the people involved. I’ll leave that to you.

By the way, the event I recalled isn’t the one that happened on April 14, 1865. My mind is too complex to travel somewhere that easy.

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Have the Good Old Days Returned?

Posted in Abraham Lincoln, Abuse, Civil War, Psychopaths, Research, Slavery, Uncategorized, US History by DLFowler on May 22, 2016

Today is the 160th anniversary of the caning of Senator Charles Sumner. It’s not far-fetched to imagine that kind of thing happening today.

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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?

Gettysburg Address – the rest of the story

Gettysburg Address

We shortchange ourselves when we study history as discreet events, dislodged from the context of what happens around them. That’s especially true when we divorce those incidents from the personal circumstances of those who put historical events in motion. (more…)

Building Blocks of Abraham Lincoln’s Personality

 During a decade of research into the life of Abraham Lincoln, I’ve become convinced that history is not about events. It’s about people. People cause the events that we call history. They are its roots. As such, we must study people to understand our past and learn the lessons they can teach.

I’ve captured my understanding of Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln Raw—a biographical novel. It’s a journey into his heart and mind, beginning with his boyhood, based on stories told by his contemporaries as well as stories he told about himself.

Following is an outline of my discoveries about Abraham Lincoln and how his personality emerged and the force of his character impacted history. It addresses four areas of inquiry that are essential to understanding one of the most pivotal personalities to set foot on the world stage:

  • What was Lincoln like out of the womb?
  • What preferences grew out of Lincoln’s innate personality?
  • How did Lincoln’s early life influence to his personality development?
  • How did Lincoln’s personality influence his values?

I hope you find the information enlightening, and welcome any contributions or questions you might want to add.

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Lincoln suffered from PTSD?

Abe Lincoln was anything but normal in many ways, including behavior that demonstrated hyper-vigilance, suicidal thoughts, exposing himself to mortal dangers, extreme emotional swings, unexpected eruptions, etc.

After almost drowning in a creek at 7 years old, his mother died when he was 9. He sat on her grave during a storm to be sure her body didn’t float up out of the ground. He had a similar reaction a dozen years later when Ann Hathaway, his first (maybe only) true love died.

During the Civil War he sometimes ventured to the front lines and was nearly wounded. Once he stood on the ramparts of a fort, wearing a top hat, giving Rebel soldiers a 7 foot target to shoot at. He even talked about suicide during Cabinet meetings.

Twice as a young man he was on suicide watch. Once he subjected himself to torturous medical treatments that were the equivalent of self mutilation.

All of these behaviors could be symptomatic of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Lincoln Raw-a biographical novel explores the possibility. Read it and decide for yourself.

Exploring Lincoln’s Psychology

Posted in Lincoln, Lincoln Raw, Lincoln's Diary, Lincoln's Psychology, Psychopaths, PTSD, Themes by DLFowler on July 23, 2014

Was Lincoln the most successful white-collar psychopath in American history? His psychology suggests he suffered from personality “disorders” that are common to red-collar psychopaths (violent criminals.) But in his case, those same traits likely enabled his greatest contributions to American society.
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Earmarks of a Psychopath

One of my characters in Ripples is a psychopath. A retired CEO from a major financial services company.  (more…)

Lincoln Trivia Question #19

Posted in Assassination, Lincoln Trivia, Lincoln's Diary, Lincoln's Psychology, Plots, PTSD, Research by DLFowler on April 14, 2011

Yes, I know I’m skipping around. If you’re keeping score this is the third trivia question I’ve posted.  The complete list of 20 is on my website.  Okay, here it is:

Q: What deadly act did Lincoln offer to perform for his cabinet?

A: He offered to hang himself.

A pretty fitting question for the 146th anniversary of his assassination, don’t you think?

Well, there are a variety of explanations, but who knows what was actually going on in Lincoln’s head.  It’s true that he suffered from acute bouts of depression during most of his adult life. It’s also possible he was being melodramatic; it wouldn’t have been the first time.

Something else is worth considering. Have you ever dealt with someone suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? Lincoln probably suffered from that, possibly a variation called Acute Traumatic Stress. He suffered sympthoms common to both disorders, including catalepsy. In those episodes, he would slip into a kind of catatonic state. His law partner William Herndon witnessed more than one such episode.

When PTSD sufferers commit suicide, it’s rarely out of despondency. More often it’s an attempt on their part to take control of a situation that seems out of hand. In that vein, Lincoln might have seriously consided martyring himself to turn public and political opinion in favor of his Reconstruction Plan which was on the cusp of failure. 

Of course that’s something we’ll never know. Not unless he confessed it in a diary that’s not turned up in the last 140+ years.

Just sayin.