Myth and Madness: The Psychodynamics of Antisemitism

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Transaction Publishers - Political Science - 191 pages
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The persistence of anti-Semitism and its current resurgence after a brief post-Holocaust suppression, challenge those who study human behavior to locate the causal bases of anti-Semitism and find approaches to combat it. This is an astonishing report of a nine-year study of the psychodynamics of anti-Semitism. Undertaken by Dr. Mortimer Ostow on behalf of the Psychoanalytic Research and Development Fund, it puts flesh and bones on the discussion of antisemitism in Sigmund Freud's 1939 classic theoretical study "Moses and Monotheism. "Its close adherence to case material, and application of psychoanalytic theory to historical data and cultural products, yields new insights into bigotry and equity alike.

By examining prejudiced patients and their myths, Dr. Ostow shows the common threads of anti-Semitism in a variety of national and cultural settings, even under supposed optimal conditions when antisemitism is stringently controlled. The work uses the psychiatric approach, and can be read as a study of how this area of behavioral science reveals the interplay of the individual and the group, cultural background and material opportunities.

The book is divided into five major segments: Psychoanalytic interpretation of anti-Semitism in the past; clinical data on anti-Semitic sentiments in a variety of personal and national settings; mythological dimensions of anti-Semitism and apocalyptic doctrines; specific anti-Semitic myths including pre-Christian early and medieval Christian, "racial" and post-modern Muslim anti-Semitism. The final segment focuses on the pogrom mentality, including the Nazi phenomenon, antisemitic fundamentalism, and black anti-Semitism.

"Myth and Madness "is informed by an amazing breadth of learning: from biblical exegesis to modern sociology, from close attention to mundane patients to evaluating mythic claims of the loftiest, and at times most dangerous sort. This is a landmark effort--one that will be the touchstone for theoretical and clinical works to come.

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The Project its Background and its Presuppositions
Study of Clinical Data
Antisemitic Myths
The Pogrom Mentality

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Page 81 - And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.
Page 81 - And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
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Page 99 - Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes : and some of them ye shall kill and crucify ; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city...
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Page 83 - And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron : and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.

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