Genocide and the self / by Douglas Bradford Emery
Includes bibliographical references
This work examines the political psychology of genocide through a detailed study of the biographical accounts of the victims of the Nazi concentration camps. Drawing on the newer work in psychoanalytic theory, the writings of Frantz Fanon, Paulo Freire, and others on the problem of political victimization, and the tradition of political philosophy it offers a new political theory of genocide willing to examine the actual settings in which genocide occurred. On the basis of case studies of the victimizer and victim in the concentration camps, it advances the following three theses: First, that the victimizers were characterized by extreme forms of sadism with their developmental origins in the splitting of early childhood. The activation of this rage depended upon the choice by the victimizer to participate in the SS group psychology. Second, that the victim's developmental experience of antisemitism in childhood made him potentially vulnerable to identification with the victimizer and political passivity. The victim accounts suggest, however, that it was possible to turn a developmental proclivity to passivity to the defense of the couple's intimacy, and to turn a potential for identification with the victimizer into heroic resistance to the camp setting. Third, that the key difference between the victimizer's and victim's political identity depended upon the relationship of that identity to the private realm of intimacy. In the case of the victimizer, any deeper private realm of intimacy was rejected and a complete fusion with the SS group occurred. In the case of the heroic victims, the deeper private realm is maintained and points in the direction of self-knowledge and the work of political resistance.
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