Anti-semitism and Xenophobia*

Abstract

This paper explores the link between anti-Semitism and xenophobia from a psychoanalytic prism. The author claims that anti-Semitism is a particular form of xenophobia directed against Jews, with some unique characteristics. She first introduces some basic notions about xenophobia, and then discusses the origins of anti-Semitism as they are viewed in early psychoanalytic thinking and in contemporary psychoanalysis. The article explores the nature of anti-Semitism in society today, and presents some reflections on the interplay between anti-Semitism and other kinds of xenophobia.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Anzieu, D. (1975). The group and the unconscious. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1984.

  2. Artin, T. (2012). The Wagner complex: Genesis and meaning of the ring. Sparkill: Free Scholar Press.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Bemporad, J. R. (2001). The complexity of evil. Journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 29, 147–171.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Bergman, W. & Erb, R. (1997). Anti-Semitism in Germany: The post-Nazi epoch since 1945. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Bernard, V. W., Ottenberg, P. & Redl, F. (1971). Dehumanization: A composite psychological defense in relation to modern war. In N. Sanford & C. Comstock (Eds.). Sanctions for Evil: Sources of Social destructiveness (pp. 102–124) San Francisco: Jossey Bass, 1973.

  6. Bion, W. R. (1959). Experiences in groups and other papers. London: Tavistock.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Bion, W. R. (1962). A theory of thinking. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 43, 306–310.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Bohleber, W. (1995). The presence of the past—Xenophobia and Rightwing extremism in the Federal Republic of Germany: Psychoanalytic reflections. American Imago, 52, 329–344.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Bohleber, W. (2010). Destructiveness, intersubjectivity, and trauma. London: Karnac.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Bohleber, W. (in press). Some reflections on Otto Fenichel’s theory of anti-Semitism. In Paper presented at the 1st Prague Conference: Otto Fenichel and his Legacy. Fear of Strangeness: Antisemitism, Xenophobia and Uncanny Experience (2015).

  11. Brenner, A. B. (1948). Some psychoanalytic speculations on anti-Semitism. Psychoanalytic Review, 35, 20–32.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. Brundl, P., Kogan, I. (Eds.). (2005). Kindheit jenseits von Trauma und Fremdheit. Erkundungen von Migrationsschicksalen im Kindes- und Jugendalter. Frankfurt: Brandes & Apsel.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Chasseguet-Smirgel, J. (1990). Reflections of a psychoanalyst upon the Nazi biocracy and genocide. International Review of Psychoanalysis, 17, 167–176.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Chessick, R. D. (1983). The Ring: Richard Wagner’s dream of pre-Oedipal destruction. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 43, 361–374.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. Elon, A. (2002). The pity of it all. A portrait of the German-Jewish epoch 1743-1933. Metropolitan Books: Kindle Edition, 2013.

  16. Erikson, E. (1968). Identity: Youth and crisis. New York: Norton.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Fenichel, O. (1934–1945). 119 Rundbriefe. [“119 Round Letters”]. J. Reichmayr and E. Mühlleitner (Eds.) Frankfurt a. M./Basel: Stroemfeld Verlags, 1998.

  18. Fenichel, O. (1940). Psychoanalysis of anti-Semitism. American Imago, 1, 24–39. In E Simmel (Ed.) Anti-Semitism: A social disease. New York: International Universities Press, 1946.

  19. Fichte, J. G. (1793). Contribution to the rectification of the public’s judgment of the French Revolution. In R. S. Schottke (Ed.) German: Beitrage zur Berichtigung der Urtheile des Publicums uber die franzosiche Revolution. Hamburg, 1973, pp. 114ff.

  20. Freud, S. (1915). Repression. Standard Edition, 14, 141–158. London: Hogarth.

  21. Freud, S. (1939). Moses and monotheism. Standard Edition, 23, 7–137.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Gross, J. T. (2001). Neighbors: The destruction of the Jewish community in Jedwabne, Poland. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Gross, J. (2015). Quoted in Horn, H. Is Eastern Europe more xenophobic than Western Europe? The Atlantic, October 15, 2015.

  24. Grunberger, B. (1964). The Anti-Semite and the Oedipal Conflict. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 45, 380–385.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  25. Grunberger, B. & Dessaunt, P. (1997). Narcissisme, Christianisme et Anti-Semitisme. Arles: Actes Sud.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Heidegger, M. (1954) The question concerning technology, and other essays. W. Lovitt (Trans.). (1977) United States: Garland. Originally published in German. (Die Frage nach der Technik, in Vorträge und Aufsätze).

  27. Hott, L. R. (1974). Individual aggression and a violent society. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 34, 305–310.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  28. Kernberg, O. F. (1978). Leadership and organizational functioning: Organizational regression. International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 28, 3–25.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  29. Kogan, I. (2016). The struggle for supremacy in Wagner’s Der Ring Des Nibelungen: The breaking of father’s authority. Journal of American Psychoanalytic Association, 64, 1051–1064.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Kohut, H. (1972). Thoughts on narcissism and narcissistic rage. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 27, 360–400.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Langmuir, G. (1990). Towards a definition of Antisemitism. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Loewenberg, P. (1983). Decoding the Past. The Psychohistorical Approach. New York: Knopf.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Lowenberg, P. (1995). Fantasy and reality in history. London: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Orgad, L. (2015). The cultural defense of nations: A liberal theory of majority rights. Oxford: University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Ostow, M. (1995). Myth and madness. The psychodynamics of Antisemitism. New Brunswick: Transaction.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Proudhon, P.-J. (1847) France et Rhin. In A. Lacroix (Ed.). Brussels: Verbockhoven, 1867.

  37. Rose, P. L. (1990). German question/Jewish question: revolutionary anti-Semitism in Germany from Kant to Wagner. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Rose, P. L. (1992). Wagner—race and revolution. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Simmel, E. (1946). Elements of a psychoanalytic theory of anti-Semitism. In E. Simmel (Ed.), Anti-Semitism: A social disease (page range missing). New York: International Universities Press.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Taras, R. (2012). Xenophobia and Islamophobia In Europe. Edinborough: University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Turquet, P. (1977). Bedrohung der Identitat in der grossen Gruppe. In L Kreeger (Ed.). Die Grossgruppe (pp. 81–139) Stuttgart: Klett.

  42. Uttari-Witt, H. & Kogan, I. (Eds.). (2015). Unterwegs in der Fremde. Psychoanalytische Erkundungen zur Migration. Giessen: Psychosozial -Verlag.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Varvin, S. (2017). Our relations to refugees: Between compassion and dehumanization. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 77(4).

  44. Volkan, V. D. & Itzkovitz, N. (1984). The immortal Atatürk: A psychobiography. Chicago: University Chicago Press.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Wagner, R. (1848). The Nibelung myth as sketch for a drama. (Trans. W. Ashton Ellis) London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co. 1892.

  46. Wagner, R. (1850). Das Judenthum in der Musik. [Judaism in music] In Judaism in music and other essays. (Trans. W. A. Ellis) (pp. 75–122). Lincoln, Neb., London: University of Nebraska Press. Originally published in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, September 3 and 6, 1850.

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ilany Kogan.

Additional information

Address correspondence to: Ilany Kogan, 2, Mohaliver St., Rehovot, 76304, Israel.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Kogan, I. Anti-semitism and Xenophobia*. Am J Psychoanal 77, 378–391 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1057/s11231-017-9113-6

Download citation

Keywords

  • anti-semitism
  • xenophobia
  • archaic fantasy systems
  • xenophobic anti-Semitism
  • chimerical anti-Semitism
  • modern anti-Semitism