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Chapter Eleven - The Social Unconscious of the Egyptian People: An Application of Some of the Ideas of Bion and Klein

Earl Hopper Karnac Books ePub

Mohamed Taha

This chapter explores the constituents, components, and manifestations of the social unconscious of the Egyptian people from two different perspectives. Noting that Bion's concept of basic assumptions is actually derived from Klein's concept of individual psychic positions (paranoid-schizoid and depressive, or PS–D), I assume that to some extent the same assumptions may apply to communities, societies, and cultures. Moreover, just as groups can move between basic assumptions and work dynamics, so can societies. In some of the discussion that follows, I will apply some psychoanalytic ideas that were developed with respect to individuals to consider aspects of social systems. This is very debatable and has its pros and cons, but I have to use what concepts are available to me.

Hopper (2003b) consistently argues that under certain circumstances a societal system is likely to regress into a very large group, and evince basic assumption processes, in particular the basic assumption of incohesion which is typical of the deep regressions that occur in large groups. Most of the time it is trauma that leads to regression, not only in persons but also in social systems (Weinberg, 2014). Thus, we can expect signs of regression in any traumatised society, and such a society will function as though it were a large group (Hopper, 2003a, 2003b). Volkan (2002) describes societal regression occurring after a society has faced a massive trauma. It occurs when a majority of people belonging to that society share anxieties, behaviours, and thoughts typical of regression, and its purpose is to maintain or repair the shared social identity.

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Chapter Twelve - Fundamental Terror of ISIS: The Story of a Reversed Family

Earl Hopper Karnac Books ePub

Eran Shadach, Shulamit Geller, Yoram Schweitzer, and Einav Yogev

Analysing contemporary Islam through the lens of psychoanalytic theory is a valid method of analysis (Benslama, 2009; Saïd, 2003). Hopper's conceptualisations of the aetiological significance of sociocultural-political factors, and the importance of a transgenerational perspective, enable us to harness the forces of group analytic theory as well (Hopper, 2003a, 2003b, 2009). In this chapter, we will draw upon recent developments in group analytic theory (Hopper & Weinberg, 2011, 2016), and certain psychoanalytical conceptualisations (Meltzer & Harris, 1976) in order to describe the Islamic State in Iraq and Sham (ISIS) as a Salafi1 jihadi entity.

In order to become a supranational empire, ISIS advocates the imposition of Salafi Islam through violent jihad that rationalises and justifies all of its actions. Through violations of every norm with regard to human rights, laws of war, and the protection of women and children's rights, ISIS defies the Western world and its values, various Arab and Islamic regimes, and non-Muslim minorities that do not recognise its supremacy (Schweitzer & Omer, 2105; Thornton, 2015). It is important to state, however, that the current analysis does not presume to make any claims and generalisations about Islam itself, but rather to describe and explain some aspects of the formation of large groupings of people with a particular mental constellation.

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Chapter Ten - “After the Last Sky”: Palestine, Palestinians, Social Memory

Earl Hopper Karnac Books ePub

Martin Weegmann

Why write?

A negated history, a shrunken geography, and a barred, precarious existence. With no exaggeration, this is the condition of Palestine, not a state, a properly constituted society, but a small portion, a broken and separated fragment of a lost country, hemmed in and occupied. Israel's Other. A “placeless place”, in the words of Darwish (2003).

This chapter was prompted by a degree of concern in relation to this book. Would there be, I worried, a place in this book, covering constituted countries, for those with no such security and boundaries, in this case Palestine and Palestinians, a place for a people marked by continuing exclusion and rightlessness? A place for a chapter that grants “permission to narrate” to such people? I take the phrase from an essay by Edward Said (1984), writing of systematic efforts to reduce Palestinian existence, a people moreover even invited to participate in the dismantling of their own history; history, as ever, is written by the victors, not the vanquished. This invites us to consider wider questions of who speaks and how, under what conditions, and with what implications? The vanquished do answer back, creating counter-narratives, however fragile and adverse their conditions of emergence. I knew that there would be a place for Israel in the book—there are many talented Israeli colleagues in our profession, eager to write—and was concerned that a confident Israeli narrative would either confine Palestinians to invisibility, conjured away, or reduce their appearance to cameo figures within a grander play, only ever and intractability associated with margins, with nuisance and violence. The equivalent figures of the “wretched of the Earth” (Fanon, 1983), those people on the receiving side of colonialism, state conquest, who, in all contexts, live the double disadvantage of primary subjection and secondary disparagement or discounting (Blackwell, 2003).

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Chapter Eight - “Black Holes” as a Collective Defence against Shared Fears of Annihilation in a Small Therapy Group and in its Contextual Society

Earl Hopper Karnac Books ePub

Yael Doron

In this chapter I will discuss the “black hole” as a collective or social defence against extremely painful shared anxieties. “Black holes” can exist in the small therapeutic group as well as in the wider society. I will illustrate the dynamics of the collective black hole with clinical data and with sociological reports.

For various reasons, social trauma is of particular importance in the formation of the social unconscious of societies and other social systems such as organisations (Hopper, 2012). It is, therefore, especially important to consider collective defences against shared anxieties that have been caused by social trauma, such as secrecy and normative taciturnity (Hopper, 2003). Black holes are another collective defence.

“Black holes” as a collective defence

In astronomy, a black hole is a region of space-time which exhibits such a strong gravitational pull that no particle or electromagnetic radiation can escape from it, not even light. Since they do not emit light, black holes cannot be observed, and their existence can only be deduced from phenomena that are caused by them. This resembles Freud's view of the unconscious as “…an unconscious conception…of which we are not aware, but the existence of which we are nevertheless ready to admit on account of other proofs or signs” (Freud, 1915e, p. 89). As the product of a denial, the “material” of a psychological black hole is neither available for narrative nor readily visible. This material can be apprehended only through indirect indications of it, such as slips of the tongue and other parapraxes, the repetition of mal-patterns of relationship, etc. which can be regarded as symptoms of anxiety associated with matters that have been repressed and/or denied. Nevertheless, just like other phenomena that have been made unconscious, psychic black holes control our actions as well as our feelings and thoughts related to what has been made unconscious.

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Chapter Seven - The Social Unconscious of Israeli Jews: Described and Analysed by an Israeli Living in North America

Earl Hopper Karnac Books ePub

Haim Weinberg

Moving from Israel to California in 2006, I was surprised to experience the respect with which people in the USA relate to authority. Patients in my private practice, participants in my groups, and students in my classes call me Dr Weinberg, while in Israel they call me Haim, which is my first name. In the USA they seemed to accept my authority, respect my knowledge and opinions, and comply immediately with my instructions, while in Israel I am used to immediate arguments, complaints, and resistances. I am not sure how aware of this I was while living in Israel. Although I had written about the social unconscious before moving to the USA (e.g., Weinberg, 2006, 2007) and actually focused on this topic in my PhD dissertation during 2000–2006, becoming an immigrant in a new society and going through acculturation processes led to my becoming keenly aware of the fine nuances and tacit assumptions that distinguish North American from Israeli cultures. To be more precise, I am concerned here with Californian culture, which might certainly be compared with, for example, New York culture, and the subcultures of these two states or regions of the United States may be as different from each other as they are from Israeli culture.

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