Religious Knives: Historical and Psychological Dimensions of International Terrorism

In this timely multidimensional study, historian Jouni Suistola and psychoanalyst Vamik D. Volkan draw on their respective disciplines and their own personal and professional experiences to investigate the historical and psychological roots of terrorism. Specifically, what is it in human nature that allows people to terrorize and kill the other, and what societal factors—whether political, economic, or religious—lead to terrorism? And, in turn, how might terrorist ideologies and groups be defeated, especially when a society’s realistic fears are contaminated with xenophobia, racism, and fantasized dangers? Focusing specifically on modern-day radical Islamist terrorism, the authors argue that studying the minds of individual terrorists can tell us something about those individuals, but that only by examining the deeper historical, political, and society-wide psychological processes at work will we be able to uncover the core causes of terrorism. Only through such understanding, they conclude, will the world be positioned to prevent further radicalization and create lasting and peaceful solutions to the seemingly intractable problem of terrorist violence.

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Everyday Evils: A Psychoanalytic View of Evil and Morality

Everyday Evils, by IDI Fellow Coline Covington, takes a psychoanalytic look at the evils committed by “ordinary” people in different contexts – from the Nazi concentration camps to Stockholm Syndrome to the atrocities publicized by Islamic State – and presents new perspectives on how such evil deeds come about as well as the extreme ways in which we deny the existence of evil.

Concepts of group behaviour, morality, trauma and forgiveness are reconsidered within a multi-disciplinary framework. The psychodynamics of dissociation, and the capacity to witness evil acts while participating in them, raise questions about the origin of morality, and about the role of the observing ego in maintaining psychic equilibrium. Coline Covington examines how we demonize the “other” and how violent actions become normalized within communities, such as during the Rwandan genocide and Polish pogroms. The recent attraction of the millenarian theocracy of the Islamic State also highlights our fascination with violence and death. Covington emphasizes that evil comes about through a variety of causes and is highly contextual. It is our capacity to acknowledge the evils we live with, witness and commit that is vital to how we manage and respond to violence within ourselves and others and in mitigating our innate destructiveness. In conclusion, the book addresses how individuals and societies come to terms with evil, along with the problematic concept of forgiveness and the restoration of good.

Everyday Evils blends psychoanalytic concepts together with the disciplines of sociology, history, anthropology, philosophy, theology and studies of violence in order to develop a richer, deeper and more comprehensive understanding of evil. Intending to make the unthinkable thinkable, this book will appeal to scholars from across those disciplines, as well as psychoanalysts, psychotherapists and anyone who has ever asked the question: “How could anyone do something like that?”

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Kendi Divaninda Bir Psikanalist (Biography of Vamik Volkan)

Ferhat Atik (Istanbul-Nemesis Press 2016)

A biography of IDI Founder and President Emeritus Vamik Volkan.  In Turkish.

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Immigrants and Refugees: Trauma, Perennial Mourning, Prejudice and Border Psychology

Vamik Volkan (Karnac Books, January 2017)

There are political, economic, legal, medical, cultural and religious aspects of the present refugee crisis in Europe. Difficulties in border crossings, settlement programs, life-saving issues and security measures present themselves immediately. The refugee crisis also needs to be examined from a psychological view point. Changes in the 21st Century are occurring at an unprecedented pace and scale. Globalization, incredible advances in communication technology, fast travel, recourse limitations, terrorist activities and now the refugee crisis in Europe make psychoanalytic investigation of the Other a major necessity. In Part I case examples illustrate the impact of traumatic experiences, age-factors, large-group identity issues and transgenerational transmissions. The meanings of the newcomers’ utilization of linking objects and linking phenomena are explored. Part II focuses on the host countries. A detailed description of the evolution of prejudice, especially collective prejudice, against the Other is provided. Also, the psychology of borders is presented. The importance of psychoanalysts’ experiences in examining societal and political matters and their search for ways to communicate their findings to other mental health workers, educators, professionals dealing with refugee crises, and the public in general, are addressed throughout the book.

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A Nazi Legacy: Depositing, Transgenerational Transmission, Dissociation, And Remembering In Action

Vamik D. Volkan, Karnac Books (September 2015)

This book relates the psychoanalytic journey of a man in his thirties, a grandson of a high-level SS officer, whose case illustrates how individuals can sometimes suffer greatly or cause the suffering of other innocent persons, simply because they are descendants of perpetrators. In it, technical considerations in treating such an individual, including countertransference issues and concepts related to transgenerational transmissions-for example, identification, depositing, dissociation, encapsulation, and remembering through actions-are explored. The man had a repeating daydream of carrying a big egg under his arm. The imagined egg, representing his encapsulated dissociated state, contained the mental representation of his Nazi grandfather and his grandfather’s victims, along with images of most tragic historical events. He attempted to turn his grandfather’s image from a life-taker to a life-giver and wished to own the older man’s grandiose specialness, while fearing the loss of his own life. These opposite aims created unnamed “catastrophes”. This book describes his psychoanalytic process from beginning to end and how he slowly cracked open his metaphorical egg, facing and naming the “catastrophes,” and eventually taming them.

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The Inner World In The Outer World: Psychoanalytic Perspectives

By Edward Shapiro (Yale University Press 1997)

As psychoanalysis enters its second century, practitioners and researchers are shifting away from a focus on the isolated individual and toward analysis of the individual in the context of his or her society and culture. To understand the way people live, says Edward Shapiro, we must explore the boundary of experience, where inner and outer worlds converge. In this highly readable collection, nine leading psychoanalysts and psychologists – including Roy Schafer, Arnold Modell, Carol Gilligan, Otto Kernberg,

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Animal Killer: Transmission of War Trauma from One Generation to the Next

By Vamik D. Volkan, Karnac Press (January 2014)

A psychoanalytic process from its beginning to its termination is described to illustrate crucial technical issues in the treatment of individuals with narcissistic personality organization and the countertransference manifestations such patients stimulate in the analyst. The subject of this book exhibited cruelty to confirm and stabilize his grandiosity. His internal world was a “reservoir” of the deposited image of his father figure, an individual most severely traumatized during World War II. The patient was given the task to be a mass-“killer” of animals instead of being a hunted one.

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Blood Lines: From Ethnic Pride to Ethnic Terrorism

By Vamik D. Volkan, Farrar Straus & Giroux (1997)

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The Immortal Ataturk: A Psychobiography

By Vamik D. Volkan and Norman Itzkowitz, U. of Chicago Press (1986)

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Shrinking the News: Headline Stories on the Couch

Coline Covington, Karnac Press (January 2014)

Shrinking the News brings together Coline Covington’s wide range of articles from her regular column in the online newspaper, The Week. The articles cover current events from October 2008 until December 2010, concluding with more recent articles from 2013.

These articles form a fascinating psychoanalytic insight on crime, politics, the economy, sports and stardom, and the quirky, bizarre events and trends that make up our daily life. The widespread popularity of these articles is a testimony to the public’s interest in a psychoanalytic view of the world around us and why people do the things they do.

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Enemies on the Couch: A Psychopolitical Journey Through War and Peace

Vamik D. Volkan, Pitchstone Publishing (August 2013)

For more than 30 years, renowned psychoanalyst Vamik D. Volkan has applied the theories of his profession to societies in conflict, venturing into cauldrons of unrest as observer, mediator, and practitioner. In this volume, he shares his experiences facilitating dialogue between opposing enemy groups, in numerous contexts and conflict zones, and presents the pioneering theoretical and practical frameworks he developed. In the process, he provides a unique window onto watershed moments of the recent past—from major historical events, such as the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall, to the tragedy of September 11, 2001, and continued violence in the Middle East. The findings and observations presented in this volume provide not only a new way of looking at recent historical events, but also offer a novel set of tools for understanding and shaping the present and future.

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Psychoanalysis, International Relations and Diplomacy: A Sourcebook on Large-Group Diplomacy

Vamik D. Volkan, Karnac Books (March 2014)

The author has three goals in writing this book. The first is to explore large-group identity such as ethnic identity, diplomacy, political propaganda, terrorism and the role of leaders in international affairs. The second goal is to describe societal and political responses to trauma at the hands of the Other, large-group mourning, and the appearance of the history of ancestors and its consequences. The third goal is to expand theories of large-group psychology in its own right and define concepts illustrating what happens when tens of thousands or millions of people share similar psychological journeys.

Vamik D. Volkan is a psychoanalyst who has been involved in unofficial diplomacy for thirty-five years. His interdisciplinary team has brought “enemy” representatives, such as Israelis and Arabs, Russians and Estonians, Georgians and South Ossetians, together for dialogue. He has spent time in refugee camps and met many world leaders. In 2008 he initiated the International Dialogue Initiative (IDI), and is one of the IDI leaders who brings together unofficial representatives, including psychoanalysts, psychoanalytic group therapists and former diplomats, from Lebanon, Germany, Iran, Israel, Russia, Turkey, UK, and USA to discuss world affairs from different points of view and evaluate psychological issues that contaminate them.

As far-reaching developments in communication technology and modern globalization are occurring and changing human civilization, the author´s work finds a crucial place for psychodynamic thinking in world affairs.

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A Spirit That Impels: Play, Creativity and Psychoanalysis

M. Gerard Fromm, Ph.D., Karnac Books (April 2014)

This volume brings together some of the papers presented by leading scholars, artists and psychoanalysts at an annual Creativity Seminar, organized by the Erikson Institute of the Austen Riggs Center. Looking at creativity through a psychoanalytic lens – and very importantly, vice versa – the authors examine great works (The Scarlet Letter, Mahler’s Eighth and The Miracle Worker) as well as great artists (Van Gogh and Lennon/McCartney) for what we might learn about the creative process itself.

Deepening this conversation are a number of clinical studies and other reflections on the creative process – in sickness and in health, so to speak. A central theme is that of “deep play”, the level at which the artist may be unconsciously playing out, on behalf of all of us, the deepest dynamics of human emotion in order that we may leave the encounter not only emotionally spent, but profoundly informed as well. The central questions of this book are how do we understand the creative process, what might psychoanalysis contribute to that understanding, and what opens up within and for psychoanalysis by engaging with the subject of creativity?

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Taking the Transference, Reaching Towards Dreams

M. Gerard Fromm, Ph.D., Karnac Books (2012)

“One of the aims of this game is to reach to the child’s ease and so to his fantasy and so to his dreams.” What a lovely description of an easy interplay between two people, leading to the communication of, even the creation of, inner life. Winnicott was a theorist of the unnoticed obvious, as much in this statement about his squiggle game as in his recognition of the eternal phenomenon of transitional objects. But it is also a commonplace of clinical psychoanalytic practice that no sooner is inner life contacted, and a beginning link made to the external world, no sooner do both parties realize that the behavior that seemed so idiosyncratic actually has relational meaning, than something else happens: transference, and taking the transference becomes the new, vital and risky clinical problem.

This book reports on clinical work in, and at the boundaries of, the intermediate space between patient and therapist, perhaps the space between reaching toward dreams and taking the transference. Though the clinical work to be described here was influenced quite deeply by the writing of Winnicott primarily and then of Lacan, it is meant to stand for itself as the record of–and a set of stories about–one therapist’s experiences and learning. The chapters that follow take up a range of clinical conditions (hopelessness, self-destructiveness, psychosis), clinical phenomena (regression, impasse, trauma), technical issues (interpretation, transference, free association) and related topics (dreams, creativity, the analytic setting). Most of this work took place at the Austen Riggs Center, a small psychiatric hospital in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, in which quite troubled patients are offered intensive psychoanalytic psychotherapy in a completely open and voluntary therapeutic community setting.

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Lost in Familiar Places: Creating New Connections Between the Individuals and Society

by Edward R. Shapiro and Wesley Carr, Yale University Press, 1993.

We live in a world of accelerating change, marked by the decline of traditional forms of family, community, and professional life. Both within families and in work-places individuals feel increasingly lost, unsure of the roles required of them. In this book a psychoanalyst and an Anglican priest, using a combination of psychoanalysis and social systems theory, offer tools that allow people to create meaningful connections with one another and with the institutions within which they work and live.
The authors begin by discussing how life in a family prefigures and prepares the individual to participate in groups, offering detailed case studies of families in therapy as illustrations. They then turn to organizations, describing how their consultations with an academic conference, a mental hospital, a law firm, and a church parish helped members of these institutions to relate to one another by becoming aware of wider contexts for their experiences. All the people within a group have their own subjectively felt perceptions of the environment. According to Shapiro and Carr, when individuals can negotiate a shared interpretation of the experience and of the purposes for which the group exists, they can further their own development and that of their organizations. The authors suggest how this can be accomplished. They conclude with some broad speculations about the continuing importance of institutions for connecting the individual and society.

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The Failure of Diplomacy: The Psychoanalysis of National, Ethnic and Religious Conflicts

by Vamık D. Volkan, Giessen: Psychosozial-Verlag.

Das Versagen der Diplomatie: Zur Psychoanalyse nationaler, ethnischer und religiöser Konflikte – The Failure of Diplomacy: The Psychoanalysis of National, Ethnic and Religious Conflicts.Original in German

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Killing in the Name of Identity: A Study of Bloody Conflicts

by Vamık D. Volkan, Charlottesville, VA: Pitchstone Publishing

In Turkish: Volkan, Vamık D. 2007. Kimlik Adına Katillik. Trans. Banu Büyükkal. Istanbul: Alfa Yayınevi.

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Blind Trust: Large Groups and Their Leaders in Times of Crises and Terror

by Vamık D. Volkan, Charlottesville, VA: Pitchstone Publishing

In German: Volkan, Vamık D. 2005. Blindes Vertrauen: Grossgruppen und ihre Führer in Kriesezeiten. Giessen: Psychosozial-Verlag. In Turkish: Volkan, Vamık D. 2005. Körükörüne Inanç. Istanbul: Okuyanus.

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Third Reich in the Unconscious: Transgenerational Transmission and Its Consequences

by Volkan, Vamık D., Gabriele Ast, and William F. Greer, Jr. NY: Brunner-Routledge, 2001.

The Third Reich in the Unconscious: Transgenerational Transmission and Its Consequences examines the effects of the Holocaust on second-generation survivors and specifically describes how historical images and trauma are transferred. The authors reveal the many ways in which the psychological legacy of the Nazi regime manifests itself in subsequent generations and how psychopathology, if present, can assume a number of different forms. Among the detailed case histories and treatment considerations, the text provides insight for developing strategies that will tame and eventually prevent transgenerational transmission.

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Terrorism and War: Unconscious Dynamics of Political Violence

by Coline Covington, Paul Williams, Jean Knox, Jean Arundale (Eds.), Karnac Books, 2002

Following the attacks of September 11, one of the resounding questions asked was ‘What would make anyone do such a thing?’ The psychological mentality of the suicidal terrorist left a gaping hole in people’s understanding. This essential volume represents a much-needed effort to collate and examine some of the material already at our disposal as an encouragement to serious thought on this question and other related questions.

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Lost in Transmission

by M. Gerard Fromm, Ph.D., Karnac Books, 2011.

A central thesis of this volume is that what human beings cannot contain of their experience – what has been traumatically overwhelming, unbearable, unthinkable – falls out of social discourse, but very often onto and into the next generation, as an affective sensitivity or a chaotic urgency. What appears to be a person’s symptom may turn out to be a symbol – in the context of this book, a symbol of an unconscious mission – to repair a parent or avenge a humiliation – assigned by the preceding generation. These tasks may be more or less idiosyncratic to a given family, suffering its own personal trauma, or collective in response to societal trauma. This book attempts to address this heritage of trauma – the way that the truly traumatic, that which cannot be contained by one generation, necessarily and largely unconsciously plays itself out through the next generation – and to do so both from clinical and societal perspectives. We consider first the legacy of the Holocaust, the study of which broke ground for the new field of transmission studies; then the analysis and enactments of trauma in more ordinary clinical practice; and finally more recent, large-scale traumatic events within American society. Throughout, the links between the “little histories” of people and families and the “big history” of a society are illuminated and taken seriously.

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Agrafa Journal Features Both IDI Chair Vamik Volkan and Fellow Regine Scholz

Agrafa Journal of Philosophy of Psychoanalysis, March 2014

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Grossgruppenidentitat, schweres Trauma und seine gesellschaftlichen und politischen Konsequenzen

Vamik D. Volkan, DGPT Jahrestagung (2014), translated by Elizabeth Vorspohl

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Lord Alderdice Speech: “If Ireland Can Find Peace, What Chance for Israel?” Ford School (September 2010)

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“Those People Were Some Kind of Solution”: Can Society In Any Sense Be Understood?

Edward R. Shapiro and Wesley Carr (2006)

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