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Growing Up in a Nuclear Age

Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
  • Joan Offerman-Zuckerberg

Abstract

Is nuclear age anxiety an anachronistic concept, given this temporarily warmer global climate?* I do not think so. As a psychoanalyst, I understand the painstakingly slow pace by which real change takes place. Political lip service can be given to disclosure and sharing, to verifiability and mutuality, but genuine trust must have time to grow. It is just the beginning and we need to resist being seduced into a premature feeling of complacency and cooperation. Since the advent of nuclear weapons, tribal mentality has not changed significantly. The creation of nuclear arms has transformed our potential for destruction from village, state, and country to the world. However, we remain tribal in our instincts, anxiously paranoid in our thinking, readily given to projection, splitting into good and bad, chronically dependent on externalization processes such as “it’s the enemy out there.” Though nuclear age anxiety is not necessarily easy to articulate, nevertheless, it is a constant piece of our socio-cultural climate, and in that sense permeates, albeit insidiously, our consciousness (see Escalona, 1982; Mack, 1982). To ignore annihilation anxiety is to deny a psychological fact, a given of the twentieth-twenty-first century.

Keywords

Human Race Holocaust Survivor Nuclear Threat Intelligent Species Survival Instinct 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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References

  1. Escalona, S. K. (1982). Growing up with the threat of nuclear war. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 52, 600–607.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Escalona, S. K. (1982). In R. Rogers et al. (Eds.), Psychosocial Aspects of Nuclear Developments, pp. 64–93. Task Force Report #20. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.Google Scholar
  3. Lifton, R. J. (1964). In G. H. Grosner, H. Wechsler & M. Guerblatt (Eds.), Psychological Effects of the Atomic Bomb in Hiroshima: The Theme of Death in the Threat of Impending Disaster, pp. 152–193. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  4. Lifton, R. J. (1982a). Beyond psychic numbing: A call to awareness. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 52, 619–629.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Lifton, R. J. (1982b). Death in Life, 2nd ed. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  6. Mack, J. E. (1982). The perception of U.S.—Soviet intentions and other psychological dimensions of the nuclear arms race. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 52 (4).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joan Offerman-Zuckerberg
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Psychoanalytic Society of the Postdoctoral Program, Inc.New YorkUSA
  2. 2.Brooklyn Institute for Psychotherapy and PsychoanalysisBrooklynUSA
  3. 3.Yeshiva University Clinical Program and National Institute for the PsychotherapiesNew YorkUSA

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