Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 21–40 | Cite as

An occupied state of mind: Clinical transference and countertransference across the Israeli/Palestinian divide

  • Samah Jabr
  • Elizabeth Berger
Original Article


The authors, a Palestinian psychiatrist working in the West Bank and a Jewish American child psychiatrist in New York, report on varieties of problematic transference and countertransference phenomena observed among mental health clinicians and patients across the Israeli/Palestinian divide. Reciprocal transference and countertransference anxieties were asymmetrical, reflecting the broader power relationship between Israelis and Palestinians. The Israeli clinicians’ need to regulate and to silence Palestinian “aggression”—either real or presumed—interfered with empathy, trust, genuine dialogue, and learning. The authors suggest that, to account for these findings, the psychoanalytic model of collective trauma must be integrated with motivational models from other disciplines in order to capture the roles played by social forces such as political propaganda, the silencing of social dissent, and longstanding historical agendas of military and economic domination.


transference countertransference Israel Palestine occupation Zionism 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Palestinian Ministry of HealthRamallah, Palestine
  2. 2.George Washington UniversityWashington

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