Document Type



Religion (CGU)

Publication Date



Arts and Humanities | Other Religion | Religion


On more than one occasion in the 1970s, Leonard Arrington, the founder of this organization, told me I should write a psychological sketch of Joseph Smith. Leonard was probably thinking of Fawn Brodie's brief analysis of Joseph in the second edition of No Man Knows My History. Brodie thought Joseph might conform to a psychological type, "the impostor," described by psychoanalyst Phyllis Greenacre. A few years earlier, I had spent two years studying psychoanalysis, and Leonard probably thought I was as well prepared as anyone to write about Joseph Smith's psychodynamics. Arrington could not have foreseen the assortment of psychologies studies that would begin appearing afater 1976 by T.L. Brink, Jess Groesbeck, William D. Morain, Robert D. Anderson, and Lawrence Foster, most of them describing the Prophet as suffering from one psychological disease or another. After all this work, none of it particularly satisfying to Mormons, Leonard has earned the right to a hearty "I told you so."

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© 2006 Mormon History Association