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Fundamentalism and Psychoanalysis
Edited by Giuseppe D. Leo, MD with contributions by Lene Auestad, Werner Bohleber, Sverre Varvin, Vamik Volkan, and Linden We
Frenis Zero Press / Softcover / Dec 2017
9788897479130 (ISBN-10: 8897479138)
Psychoanalysis and Religion
price: $73.95 (may be subject to change)
216 pages
Not in Stock, usually ships in 7-10 business days

The collection "Mediterranean Id-entities" is devoted to publish books in order to investigate the role of Mediterranean cultures from a psychoanalytic point of view, in front of the anthropological transformations concerning human societies and social institutions in the contemporary world.

This book has the hard task to cover an interdisciplinary area in which psychoanalysis has to deal with fundamentalism as a social phenomenon and therefore with 'bordering' disciplines (such as religion history, transcultural studies, cultural anthropology) often with epistemologies that for origin and history appear to be incomparable to it.

Lene Auestad intends to integrate the psychological analysis of the subject with its social embedding. She investigates the importance of the social unconscious and its effects on the prejudiced intentions of the individual apart from its own active interpretations. She highlights the importance the psychoanalytical approach provides in understanding the unspoken, unconscious contents of the social phenomena and how much the socially critical approach is able to enrich the analytical view which merely focuses on the subject regarding the effects of the social consensus.

While Auestad's scrutiny aims at the social convention's role as an agent affecting the individual's deeds and thinking, Linden West's contribution draws on 'psycho-social' understandings, combining psychoanalysis and critical theory, as well as the work of John Dewey, to interrogate Islamic fundamentalist groups in a post-industrial city. It explores processes of self-recognition in groups and paranoid-schizoid modes of functioning, in which unwanted parts of self and of culture are split off and projected on to the other. The world is correspondingly divided into good and bad, pure and impure. John Dewey makes a crucial distinction between processes of democratic education and closed groups, which is what fundamentalist groups are, by reference to the quality of relationship to the other, and to experiential and narrative openness. However, it is also suggested that fundamentalism is ordinary, in that each of us can feel out of our depth, at times, and we may grab at ideas promising truth and nothing but the truth, which is ultimately illusion. Except not everyone reaches for a Kalashnikov, which is where individual biographies matter for subtler understanding of difference within commonalities.

Fundamentalism has increasingly become a part of the political discourse in Western countries and is to a large degree associated with Islamic Jihadism. Fundamentalism has, however, been a concern in all religions, and Werner Bohleber in this book discusses its connections with violence in monotheistic religions.

Fundamentalism is also a concern in professional organisations and in this book Sverre Varvin discusses the relation between fundaments for a science and fundamentalism in psychoanalysis. This is related to general trends of fundamentalism in religious and political contexts. A central question is how adherence to fundamentals, understood at basic principles for a profession or a religious-political movement, may develop into fundamentalism and how this may develop into more violent forms.

Psychoanalytic understanding of mass psychology and unconscious processes at group levels are developed in this book by each of the outstanding authors in order to understand present Islamic and other forms of fundamentalist movements in the European context.

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