New Article: Bitan et al, Delusional Themes in Germany and Israel During the Twentieth Century

Bitan, Dana Tzur, Maria Christina Müller, Shlomit Keren, Israel Krieger, and Lars Hornuf. “War Within, War Outside: A Psychoanalytic Account of Delusional Themes in Germany and Israel During the Twentieth Century.” Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association 63.3 (2015): NP1-NP7.




Psychoanalysis, through its myriad developments, has embraced the individual intrapsychic world as its main protagonist. Even so, from its bedrock, it has not ignored the contextual fields of culture, society, political forces, and historical events. Freud (1912–1913) saw similarities between the formation of civilization and individual psychic development, while laying the groundwork for later ideas such as the collective unconscious, tying together unconscious memories of historical events, personal trajectories, and the unseen discourse of social groups (Jung 1959). Psychoanalysts like Bion and Segal have drawn various analogies between the dynamic processes of the individual and those of the group (Bion 1946; Segal 1995). In line with these postulates, Bain coined the term socio-analysis (1999) to denote the adaptation of psychoanalytic concepts as underlying processes of social and cultural dynamics.

Within these mutual dynamics, some have pointed to the role of madness in the maintenance of social order. Foucault (1961) suggested that Cartesian dualist thinking, in addition to its use in differentiating and defining, created a hierarchy: privileging one category over the the other for purposes of domination, order, and control. Thus, the rational and “sane” society can maintain its positive characteristics, while binding its irrational, less accepted parts to the insane locked away in asylums. To put it differently, society uses projection and the splitting-off of madness as defense mechanisms aimed at maintaining the civilized order. Thus, the psychotic plays a unique role as the bearer of primitive and ominous elements.



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