This study examined the role played by gender differences in the relation between political violence exposure and mental health during adolescence. Understanding these differences is particularly pertinent during the period of adolescence characterized as it is by processes of identity formation and gender role consolidation. Participants were 154 high school students recruited from two high schools in central Israel (78 males, 76 females; average age 16.54), who completed the Political Life Events Scale for measurement of political violence exposure, the Brief Symptom Inventory-18 for assessment of psychological symptoms and disorders, a risk-taking behavior scale, and the Posttraumatic Stress Symptom Scale — Interview (PSS-I) for assessment of posttraumatic stress symptoms. Results reflected high levels on many psychological indicators. The dose–response hypothesis was partially confirmed with adolescents’ higher reported political violence exposure related only to higher levels of somatization and greater severity of posttraumatic stress symptoms. Contrary to the literature, only a few gender differences emerged and these showed mixed patterns. Females showed higher levels of anxiety than males, and males showed higher levels of risk-taking behavior. Females exposed to low political violence exposure showed significantly less substance abuse than males but those with high exposure reported significantly higher levels of substance abuse, equivalent to those of males. Findings show a complex constellation of gender effects on relations between political violence exposure and different psychopathological outcomes. Findings of this study indicate the necessity for more refined examination of gender differences in psychological processes in reaction to living in conditions of protracted conflict and war.
Kemp, Martin. “Collusion as a Defense against Guilt: Further Notes on the West’s Relationship with Israel and the Palestinians.” International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies 12.3 (2015): 192-222.
Returning to the theme of an earlier paper (Kemp 2011), the author explores the anxiety-ridden nature of debate about Israel-Palestine in the West. Rather than guilt per se, it is suggested that it is collective defences against guilt that are threatened when the issue is raised in public. The West’s dilemma has been to reconcile its commitment to universalist values with its support for Israel. Zionism’s objective of a Jewish state in an already inhabited country has led inevitably to repression and racism. The outcome has been collusion in a cover-up of the true nature of Israeli ideology and policy, akin to the collusion that takes place in a clinical relationship when a psychoanalyst fails to make a necessary interpretation to a patient in order to avoid discomfort or conflict. Among the many unfortunate consequences has been a failure to challenge the instrumentalization of the Holocaust, paradoxically now used to neutralize opposition to the subjugation of the Palestinians.
Dan, Orrie, Yona Moshe David, Michal Abraham, and Dorit Hadar Souval. “Differences in State Anxiety Responses to Combat Pictures between Young Adult Israeli Jews and Israeli Palestinian Arabs.” Psychology 6 (2015): 1136-43.
The purpose of the current study was to investigate whether the different political realities of Israeli Jewish citizens and of Israeli Palestinian Arab citizens had differential impacts on the situational anxiety elicited by video clips of military operations. The pictures were taken during the November 2012 Pillar of Defense military operation in Gaza and southern Israel. Participants included 75 (49 female) students at an Israeli college. Of these, 39 were Israeli Jews and 36 were Israeli Arabs. Participants completed the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (Spielberger, 1983) and then watched a video clip containing combat pictures. After that they completed the State Anxiety Inventory again. The results showed no differences between Israeli Jewish participants and Israeli Palestinian Arab participants on trait anxiety. Analysis revealed a significant group (Israeli Jews/ Israeli Palestinian Arabs) X condition (before/after watching the video clip pictures) interaction effect. Before watching the video clip, the groups exhibited no difference in state anxiety. After watching the clip, the Israeli Palestinian Arab participants showed greater state anxiety compared with the Israeli Jews.
Ayalon, Liat, Khaled Karkabi, Igor Bleichman, Silvia Fleischmann, and Margalit Goldfracht. “Between Modern and Traditional Values: Informal Mental Health Help-Seeking Attitudes according to Israeli Arab Women, Primary Care Patients and Their Providers.” International Journal of Social Psychiatry 61.4 (2015): 386-93.
Background: Israeli Arab women under-utilize mental health services.
Objectives: The present study evaluated the use of alternative services for dealing with depression and anxiety among Israeli Arab women and primary care providers.
Material: Four focus groups with primary care patients and two focus groups with primary care providers were conducted. Constant comparisons were employed in order to identify major themes related to informal help-seeking behaviors.
Discussion: Three informal help-seeking behaviors were identified: (a) social support, divided into extended family and neighbors versus nuclear family and close friends; (b) religiosity, divided into inner, direct practices and beliefs versus externally mediated ones; and (c) self-help techniques, such as engagement in activities and distancing oneself from the situation. Both social support and religiosity were viewed with ambivalence by primary care patients and providers.
Conclusion: The findings suggest that the Arab population in Israel might be lacking informal sources of support at times of mental health needs.
Abu-Raiya, Hisham, Kenneth I. Pargament, Andra Weissberger, and Julie Exline. “An Empirical Examination of Religious/Spiritual Struggle among Israeli Jews.” International Journal for the Psychology of Religion (early view; online first).
The current investigation examined the prevalence, predictors and psychological implications of religious and spiritual (r/s) struggles among a sample of Israeli-Jewish university students. R/s struggle was assessed by the Religious and Spiritual Struggles (RSS) Scale. This is a newly-constructed scale that assesses a wide array of r/s struggles. The RSS is composed of 6 factors of struggles: Divine, Doubt, Demonic, Interpersonal, Moral and Ultimate Meaning. Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) of the RSS in this study confirmed this six-factor structure. Of the 164 Jewish participants, between 1.2% and 30.5% experienced various r/s struggles. Beliefs in a cruel God and distant God, religious participation, and fundamentalism predicted higher levels of different types of struggle. All six forms of struggle were correlated with greater psychological distress. In regression equations including r/s struggles as well as demographic and religious variables, Moral struggles predicted lower life satisfaction, Divine struggles predicted depressive symptoms, and both Divine and Doubt struggles predicted generalized anxiety. Possible explanations and implications of the findings are offered. We conclude by pointing to the limitations of the study and suggesting a few directions for future research.
Shelef, Leah Eyal Fruchter, Dror Ortasse Spiegel, Gal Shoval, J. John Mann, and Gil Zalsma. “Characteristics of Soldiers with Self-Harm in the Israeli Defense Forces.” Archives of Suicide Research 18.4 (2014): 410-418.
Suicide is the leading cause of soldier death in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in peace time. Suicide attempt (SA) and non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) are risk factors for death by suicide in civilian studies and therefore their predictive value needs to be determined in the military. All army screening, psychometric and demographic data on consecutive cases of IDF soldier self-harm during the years 2010–2011 were analyzed. The Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale was used retrospectively to classify self-harm as suicidal or NSSI. The Suicide Ideation Scale and the Suicide Intent Scale were scored retrospectively by trained clinical psychologists. A total of 107 soldiers reported self-harm during the study period, comprising 70 SA and 37 with NSSI. The most prevalent diagnosis was personality disorder (n = 48). Soldiers with any mood/anxiety disorders comprised the smallest group (n = 21) and included major depression, dysthymia, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Soldiers with NSSI (n = 37) did not differ in any of the characteristics from those who attempted suicide (n = 70). Unlike the well-known female dominance in both SA and NSSI patients in other settings, males dominated this army sample in both groups. Soldiers with self-harm (both SA and NSSI) cannot be easily distinguished by any demographics or specific psychological attributes detectable at induction, and the scales used in suicide research cannot predict an attempt or NSSI. Unlike civilian samples, males dominated attempter and NSSI groups and the reason for this may be multifactorial. These retrospective findings, if replicated, indicate the need for different screening strategies at induction into the military.
Kalir, Barak. “The Jewish State of Anxiety: Between Moral Obligation and Fearism in the Treatment of African Asylum Seekers in Israel.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies [early view online, prior to printed version]
Since 2005 around 60,000 asylum seekers, mostly from Eritrea and Sudan, have entered Israel by crossing the border from Egypt. Notwithstanding the Jewish history of persecution, and Israel being a signatory to the UN Convention for the protection of refugees, modern Israel systematically refuses to grant a refugee status to asylum seekers. Since 2012, the tenacious hostile approach of Israeli policy-makers and state-agents towards asylum seekers has resulted in an outburst of racist verbal and physical attacks against them. This article analyses the socio-legal location of asylum seekers in Israel by examining how their position is articulated by different parties, deploying competing discourses of human rights, citizenship, security and sovereignty. The article advances that appeals—mostly made by critical non-governmental organisations (NGOs), journalists and academics—to human rights, Jewish morals and historic sensitivities are beguiling; while they arouse hopes for compassion and moral obligation, they are also used by mainstream Israeli politicians to justify the exclusion and deportation of so-called ‘African infiltrators’. A hegemonic ideology of ‘fearism’—which brands the Israeli national narrative and informs the notion of citizenship among Jewish Israelis—leads to the construction of asylum seekers as abject Others, who pose a threat to the Jewish state and to Jews’ own right for secured citizenship.