From Ultrasound to Army: The Unconscious Trajectories of Masculinity in Israel

Views: 225
Ratings: (0)

Daring to gaze directly into the core of parenting in Israel, this book presents, for the first time, a study that focuses on the conscious and unconscious aspects of the Israeli parenting experience when raising sons is overshadowed by the knowledge that at 18 years old, these sons will be drafted into inherently life-endangering compulsory military service.Exposing the emotional drama, hidden from open view until now, and against a background of a uniquely intertwined Jewish and Israeli history, Hanni Mann-Shalvi explores the dynamics that shape Israeli parenting norms, and simultaneously impact the couple relationship as sons grow up and develop their masculine Israeli identity. From Ultrasound to Army delves into the developmental processes experienced by the young Israeli male up until military recruitment, his image as a cadet and later as a commando, his changing relationship with his parents, and his experiences on being discharged, all of which affect his development from boy to man.Hanni Mann-Shalvi offers a highly important, complex and in-depth observation of the individual-social psychic fabric which holds significant implications for social life and male-female relationships in Israel and consequently impacts social relationships at the personal, familial, national and international levels.

List price: $28.99

Your Price: $23.19

You Save: 20%

 

11 Slices

Format Buy Remix

1 - On learning the gender of the fetus

ePub

Preliminary investigation

Preliminary to my research on whether the thought of a son's anticipated/future conscription starts with awareness of the embryo's gender, I spent three days with gynaecologist and ultrasound expert Nili Yanai while she was examining pregnant women. Each time she told a couple they would be having a son, with permission I introduced myself as a researcher interested in their first thoughts on hearing of the embryo's gender. I did not mention my particular interest in parents and their sons, nor did I hint at any connection to conscription.

Ten couples were interviewed, and with each the men remained silent and the women talked about two worrisome events: circumcision, and enlistment into the army. One woman said, “It is wonderful that we have a son, but he will go into the army”; another said, “What immediately came to mind are circumcision and the draft.” And a third said explicitly, “I wanted a daughter. I do not have the strength to cope with sons.” To my question, “What don't you have the strength for?” she answered, “Primarily the draft into the army…it's frightening.” There was something in the parents’ eyes when they commented on the draft of he-who-was-still-an-embryo, as though from the few words, “He will be a soldier”, I was meant to grasp all the hidden significance. As shown in this book, these code words encrypt all of Jewish and Israeli history.

 

2 - The mother's conflict

ePub

Through the window she looked, she peered—
Sisera's mother—through the lattice:
Why is his chariot so delayed?
Why do his chariot's wheels tarry?

Judges 5: 28

The Israeli maternal experience of sons

Mother's Voice has for over thirty years been the flagship programme of Galatz (abbreviation of Galei Tzahal), the IDF radio station for families and soldiers on duty. The Galatz mobile broadcaster visits bases across Israel, and the programme's presenter, Naomi Ravia, chats simultaneously with mothers and soldiers in the studio and conveys messages from families to the soldiers. The current study shows that the concept of “mother's voice” bears a significant and complex emotional message for Israeli families and society.

How is that maternal voice formulated? Knowledge of their sons’ future recruitment seems generally to cause mothers a range of emotional and maternal patterns similar to those that consolidate a kind of shared yet uniquely Israeli maternal voice that expresses powerful anxiety over the lives of sons relative to their future military recruitment. These unique patterns are the topic of this chapter.

 

3 - The father's conflict

ePub

Take now your son, your only one, whom you love, Isaac, and go you to the land of Moriah and raise him up there as an offering, on one of the mountains concerning which I will tell you…

And he said, cast not your hand upon the lad, and do nothing to him…

And he said, In myself I have sworn, the speech of the Lord, because you have responded with this thing, and did not withhold your son, your only one…I shall surely bless you, and I shall surely multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand upon the shore…

Genesis 22: 1–9

In Genesis, God instructs Abraham to bind his son. When Abraham places his son on the altar and is about to kill him, an angel calls from heaven and commands him not to injure his son. Abraham's very willingness to take this action of binding merits him the blessing of generations of progeny and a nation of which he will be the starting point.

Numerous interpretations have been offered for the act of binding, from the father's preparedness to offer his son as a sacrifice for the sake of his beliefs, in testimony to the existence of murderous aggression by fathers towards their sons and the derivative feelings of guilt, through to understanding the act of binding as a warning that in order for sons to consolidate their masculine separate identities and become fathers themselves, both need to cope with the murderous, aggressive urges of father towards son. The father must be able to contain and control these instincts and be willing to acknowledge the son's total separateness.

 

4 - Unconscious solution in the couple relationship

ePub

And God said, it is not good for man to be alone, I shall make him [a match opposite]1 him…

Genesis 2: 18

The Sages explain: if he is meritorious, she will match him with worthiness; but if he is not meritorious, she will be oppositional to him to the same measure.

Midrash Rabbah, 17: 3

The couple relationship that transitions into a parental relationship is comprised of latent and overt emotional material residing in the psyches of each partner, including unconscious messages transmitted from earlier generations and further padded out with the unique traits of the specific couple. As a result, it is appropriate to relate to each couple relationship as a separate entity, with its own particular characteristics. To analyse and understand the couple dynamics, it is necessary to distinguish among three separate emotional entities—the two individuals separately, and both linked together as a couple—while acknowledging that, within each individual and in their shared space and link, there are conscious and unconscious processes that are in changing and ongoing reciprocity (Green, 1975; Mann-Shalvi, 2010; Scharff & Scharff, 2011).

 

5 - Parenting from Holocaust to heroism

ePub

Remember what Amalek did to you on your journey out of Egypt, how they surprised you on the road and cut off all the weak people at your rear, when you were parched and weary….

Deut. 25: 17–19

In Israel, parenthood with sons and couple-relationship patterns with their accompanying emotional worlds are formed in reaction to the unconscious entrapment between oppositional parenting tasks. The emotions aroused through awareness of a son's future recruitment also arise from the powerful unconscious emotional processes echoing myths and Biblical narratives such as the Binding of Isaac (Guvrin, 1935). They chiefly revolve around aggressive potential and libidinal charges within the human psyche, and also directed towards children.

Another significant component in the emotional makeup of parents of sons in Israel is not easy to write about, and possibly equally not easy to read about—namely, the way that the Holocaust experience, focal to the collective Israeli identity and memory (Segev, 1991), interferes with parenting in the context of sons enlisting for military service.

 

6 - Lack of maturity versus hunger for maturity

ePub

In Part I, we saw that the Israeli reality—that young male adolescents are recruited by law into military combat service—creates an emotional trap for parents: if they fulfil their parental task and raise a son with high levels of physical, cognitive, and emotional capability and a masculine identity separate from theirs, they will themselves have contributed a great deal to their son's recruitment to combat service, which could put his life at stake.

The unconscious conflict finds its solution unconsciously as the splitting of contradictory parental tasks shifts from an intrapsychic conflict to an interpersonal one between them, burdening the couple relationship with tension. The maternal pattern of overprotectiveness creates the illusion of an ideal world for their sons, which sabotages the consolidation of a separate identity. In parallel, fathers become mute and even concealed. Added to all this is a tension that typifies the couple relationship relative to the issue of their sons.

 

7 - The warrior hero

ePub

…When you draw close this day to battle against your enemies, do not let your heart be faint, fear not nor be alarmed, and do not be frightened by them.

Deut. 20: 3

Cornerstones of the Israeli soldier's identity since 1948

Looking at the multiple layers of parenting sons in Israel and the couple-relationship patterns that develop, the parents’ intergenerational baggage, as well as the emotional baggage of the sons themselves, two questions necessarily arise: “Who are you, Israeli soldier?” “How did the Israeli home, with all its unique facets, shape you?”

This chapter aims to show non-Israeli readers more of who the person is behind the label of “Israeli soldier” and thereby also better understand the internal Israeli experience rather than that portrayed externally in the media.

Who are you, Israeli soldier?

The essence of the question, “Who are you, Israeli soldier?” conceals a premise that a collective identity derives from the accrual of the various personal and group identities. In other words, a “collective identity” is a reflection of the ethos and norms common in that society in any particular period.

 

8 - After discharge: withdrawal into travel, mysticism, and blunting of the senses

ePub

Discharge from military service1 brings the young Israeli, who has served as a commando dealing with challenging emotional processes, face to face with the expectation of integrating into Israeli society as a productive adult with an emotion-regulating masculine identity with its uniquely Israeli civilian facets. However, the discharged soldier is also expected to remain connected with those commando parts of his personality in order to have an integrated personality/self, and also because he may be drafted for reserve duty once a year. Without doubt, in-depth research is needed into this difficult transition, implementing psychoanalytic tools (PQRM; Mann-Shalvi, 2007b), together with a focus on concealed and revealed psychic layers in order to evaluate the emotional processes undergone by the young Israeli on his way from protected infancy to commando, and from commando to civilian.

Examination of the emotional processes experienced by the young Israeli who served in a combat role during this limbo stage of his life revealed three possible sources of emotional distress encountered in the process of consolidating his masculine identity after military service:

 

9 - The “peacetime self” and the “wartime self”

ePub

Clearly the interpretive description of the unconscious stages of Israeli masculinity presented so far is not the only one. Future studies focusing on other populations—various minorities sectors;1 the ultra-Orthodox sector, which is exempt from conscription, although a few of them do enlist; military careerists; bereaved families with teenage sons; immigrant families, in which the parent generation was too old to serve but their sons do; and so forth—will no doubt depict more hues and shades of what it is to reach masculinity in Israel.

Nor does this study represent the narrative of all parents to sons in Israel, or the maturation stages of all Israeli combat soldiers. However, the narratives are shared by a meaningful proportion of Israeli society and hence influence the Israeli experience. An expanded public discourse is therefore needed on this topic if we are to gain a more complete picture that identifies the full dialectic impact of events that fill the Israeli reality, and the unconscious emotional processes.

 

10 - Psychoanalytic interventions

ePub

We have seen how raising sons with the knowledge of their future recruitment and military service itself have numerous consequences on shaping the mind and relationships of the individual, the couple, and the family. The psychoanalytic theory behind this related to individuals and families has also been outlined. Should, however, psychoanalysts hold an interventionist role in the national and international arenas at the level of theory, and perhaps even practice?

Taking a stance for the practical application of psychoanalysis is not new. In 1932, Alfred Einstein, fearing that the fate of nations was in the hands of entirely irresponsible political legislators, invited Freud on behalf of the League of Nations1 to discuss whether there is a way of delivering mankind from the menace of war. In his response, Freud noted the central role of life and death drives in managing the psyche and therefore in managing personal and international life. He concluded that if the willingness for war is the outcome of the drive for destruction, then using Eros—destruction's opposing force—would help combat it; therefore, any factor contributing to the establishment of emotional links among humans should be actively involved against war (Freud, 1933, p. 211). He further added that through emotional affinity and other emotional sharing, which form the basis of human society, it is possible to counter the tendency to aggression. He noted that it would not be utopian to hope that anxiety itself over the outcomes of war, and all factors that promote the development of culture, should contain what it takes to work against war. Nonetheless, he qualified his statements by noting that human aggression could be restrained only through the existence of a central authority with “the last word” on any international dispute.

 

Appendix

ePub

In this Appendix, I describe how and why the couples were chosen for the study, how the interviews were conducted, and the methods applied for analysing and interpreting the data. As the interviews have drawn a new picture of Israeli parenting, this should help the reader to follow the path along which these understandings arose from the text.

The research question

The basic premise behind the research was that, from the time a couple in Israel learns that their unborn child will be a son, conscious or unconscious anxiety surfaces throughout the child's life from the knowledge that, at age eighteen, he will be drafted into military service.

Wishing to examine this premise, a preliminary study was conducted, as outlined in chapter one. On the basis of the findings from this, it was possible to rely on the basic premise.

The research question was:

What is the impact of this anxiety, aroused in parents in as early a stage as pregnancy, on their latent and overt emotional attitudes towards their sons, and relative to their parenting patterns?

 

Details

Print Book
E-Books
Slices

Format name
ePub (DRM)
Encrypted
true
Sku
9781781814475
Isbn
9781781814475
File size
0 Bytes
Printing
Disabled
Copying
Disabled
Read aloud
No
Format name
ePub
Encrypted
No
Printing
Allowed
Copying
Allowed
Read aloud
Allowed
Sku
In metadata
Isbn
In metadata
File size
In metadata