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Frederick Douglass, a Psychobiography

Rethinking Subjectivity in the Western Experiment of Democracy


  • The first psycho-biographical project on a major 19th century Black personality and thinker

  • Examines primary source documents authored by Frederick Douglass himself

  • Examines the psychosocial, cultural, and religious environments that influenced Douglass, as well as his counter-influence on the same environments


Part of the Black Religion/Womanist Thought/Social Justice book series (BRWT)

About this book


In the extreme context of the American slavocracy, how do we account for the robust subjectivity and agency of Frederick Douglass?  In an environment of extremity, where most contemporary psychological theory suggests the human spirit would be vanquished, how did Frederick Douglass emerge to become one of the most prolific thinkers of the 19th century? To address this question, this book engages in a psychoanalytic examination of all four of Frederick Douglass’ autobiographies.  Danjuma Gibson examines when, how, and why Douglass tells his story in the manner he does, how his story shifts and takes shape with each successive autobiography, and the resulting psychodynamic, pastoral, and practical theological implications.


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Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Calvin Theological SeminaryGrand Rapids, MIUSA

About the authors

Danjuma Gibson is Associate Professor of Pastoral Care at Calvin Theological Seminary, USA. 

Bibliographic information