Instincts of the Herd in Peace and War
By Wilfred Trotter
2003/03 - Beard Books
1587981793 - Paperback - Reprint - 264 pp.

This books is fascinating reading for anyone interested in probing the instinctive side of man, with its derivatives, such as his morals, his altruism, and his aspirations.

Publisher Comments

This famous and often referenced book contains a series of essays written by a sociologist at the time of World War I. It was the first study of the psychology of animals and spawned the use and popularization of the phrase "herd instinct" with regard to certain aspects of human behavior. The author asserts that gregariousness is an instinct and examines both the offensive and defensive aspects, showing conscience as an indirect result of this instinct. In his general conclusions, the author states that in order to have stability and full functional effectiveness, a society must be capable of a continually progressive absorption of its individual members into the general body.

From the back cover blurb: 

This famous and often referred to book is a series of essays written at the time of World War I by a sociologist. It is the origin of the popularization of the phrase "herd instinct" in the course of human behavior in the actual affairs of life. It was the first study of the psychology of animals. He asserts that gregariousness is an instinct. The functions of the gregarious habit in a species, both offensive and defensive, are examined. The gregarious mental character is evident in man's behavior in crowds and other circumstances of actual association, as well as in isolation as an individual. Thus, the author shows that conscience is an indirect result of the gregarious instinct. That leads to the observation that anything which dissociates a suggestion from the herd will tend to ensure such a suggestion being rejected.

Review by Henry Berry, Turnarounds and Workouts, January 15, 2008:

Instincts of the Herd in Peace and War examines how individuals become involved in social groups and how this affects their involvement in a nation, the ultimate social group. According to Trotter, human beings are, by nature, “gregarious,” and their
gregariousness is instinctive. Consequently, individuals are compelled to attach themselves to a primary social group and assume a role within it. Individuals may form attachments to other groups and take different or modified roles within them, but it is their attachment to, identification with, and role within a primary group that lends them their personal identity, sense of purpose, and sense of self-worth and fulfillment.

Although a nation is the ultimate group, it becomes the primary social group only in the case of war. To Trotter, war and peace are not mutually exclusive social states. They form a continuum of historical social states that comprise the entirety of all possible
social states. There can be no utopias, nor can there be eternal wars. The flow of events brings periods of peace and war. The events in Europe preceding World War I – the period during which Trotter wrote the first edition of his book – were a test case for the author’s observations and conclusions. The people of England, France, Germany, and other European nations became focused on defending their nations against external enemies. Societies (i. e., nations) underwent upheaval as their people turned from limited involvement with smaller social groups to large-scale involvement in national defense.

Trotter’s book is recognized as a classic in the field of sociology, a relatively new science in the latter 1800s and early 1900s. Trotter and others sought to understand the group dynamics of democratic societies, which were replacing the class structure of aristocratic, hierarchal societies.Trotter also sought to counter the misleading effects of psychology, especially the influence of Freudian psychology, which saw individuals as influenced mostly by inner, largely subconscious feelings and experiences.

Trotter argues that psychology is not an independent field. Says the author, “The two fields – the social and the individual – are absolutely continuous; all human psychology, it is contended, must be the psychology of associated man, since man as a solitary animal is unknown to us....” Even a hermit is born in society; and society has an interest in hermits for what they may reflect about conditions of society.

This reprint is the second edition of Trotter’s classic work. The second edition includes the author’s 45-page “Postscript of 1919,” assaying the conditions of peace after World War I had ended. “With the cessation of war this great stream of moral power [in defending the nation] began rapidly to dry up at its source,” observes Trotter. He proffers that the
aim of statecraft is keeping this “great stream of moral power” in times of peace. He believes that the progressive evolution of society can be accomplished by a “scientific statecraft [applying] the intellect as an active factor in the direction of society.”

While basically a work of sociology, Trotter’s book can be a picture of individual and group behavior for leaders in any organization where motivation, unity, and progress are important. This includes business leaders, especially leaders of larger companies with multiple business sites and different employee segments. Business leaders will immediately grasp the truth and relevance of the author’s view of society and glean from it essential lessons and leadership principles, practices, and goals.

Wilfred Trotter (1872-1939) was an English surgeon as well as an influential sociologist.

Wilfred Trotter, 1872-1939, was a surgeon with a distinguished medical career and a sociologist. He was a surgeon at the University College Hospital in London from 1906, and held the office of honorary surgeon to King George V from 1928 to 1932.

Preface 5
Preface to Second Edition 8

Herd Instinct and Its Bearing on the Psychology of Civilized Man

Introduction 11
Psychological Aspects of Instinct 15
Biological Significance of Gregariousness 18
Mental Characteristics of the Gregarious Animal 23
Sociological Applications of the Psychology of Herd Instinct
Gregariousness and the Future of Man 60
Speculations Upon the Human Mind in 1915
Man's Place in Nature and Nature's Place in Man 66
Comments on an Objective System of Human Psychology 69
Some Principles of a Biological Psychology 91
The Biology of Gregariousness 101
Characters of the Gregarious Animal Displayed by Man 112
Some Peculiarities of the Social Habit in Man 120
Imperfections of the Social Habit in Man 132
Gregarious Species at War 139
England against Germany -- Germany 156
England against Germany -- England 201

Postscript of 1919

Prejudice in Time of War 214
Psychological Anticipations 224
After the War 235
The Instability of Civilization 241
Some Characters of a Rational Statecraft 251
Index 261

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