* From: Portraits from Memory and Other Essays, pt. B, chap.4 (1956)


( But early in 1901 I had an experience not unlike what religious people call "conversion". I became suddenly and vividly aware of the loneliness in which most people live, and passionately desirous of finding ways of diminishing this tragic isolation. In the course of a few minutes I changed my mind about the Boer War, about harshness in education and in the criminal law, and about combativeness in private relations. I expressed the outcome of this experience in "The Free Man's Worship". But I was absorbed, with my friend Whitehead, in the herculean task of writing Principia Mathematica, a book which occupied the best energies of us both for a period of ten years. The completion of this task left me with a new degree of mental freedom, and therefore ready intellectually as well as emotionally for the re-direction of my thoughts that was brought about by the war.
During the first days of the war, I was struck by the importance of the connection of politics and individual psychology. What masses of men agree to do is the result of passions which they feel in common, and these passions, as I was suddenly compelled to realize, are not those that I found emphasized by most political theorists. I was at that time completely ignorant of psycho-analysis, but observation of Warlike crowds inspired me with thoughts having much affinity with those of psycho-analysis, as I afterwords discovered.)