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Spielman, R. (1998). Psychoanalysis at the Political Border: Essays in Honor of Rafael Moses. Edited by Leo Rangell and Rena Moses-Hrushovski. Madison, CT: International Universities Press, 1996, xi + 330 pp., $50.00. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 46(4):1311-1312.

(1998). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 46(4):1311-1312

Psychoanalysis at the Political Border: Essays in Honor of Rafael Moses. Edited by Leo Rangell and Rena Moses-Hrushovski. Madison, CT: International Universities Press, 1996, xi + 330 pp., $50.00

Review by:
Ron Spielman

This volume is of interest not least for the relationship between its title and its contents. At first glance, the association of Rafael Moses's name and the word border will almost certainly bring to mind the nations of the Middle East, long-standing hatreds, attempted conflict resolution, and the possibility of peace. The reader will have to work to make sense of the connections among the varied essays that make up this collection and of its enticing title. From the safety of the only continent without any political borders of the sort implied by the title, here follows this reviewer's attempt to find such meaning.

Readers interested only—or even mainly—in the role of psychoanalytic thinking vis-à-vis political conflicts will likely feel somewhat cheated, as only Part IV of the book, “At the Psychopolitical Border,” in fact deals with these issues. And even here only one of the four essays (Ronnie Solan's “The Leader and the Led: Their Mutual Needs”) deals directly with the Middle East. Another of these essays is by one of the most well-known workers in the area of ameliorating conflict between antagonistic ethnic groups, Vamik Volkan. His paper deals with the intergenerational transmission of what he calls “chosen traumas” and is illustrated by an extensive case report.

In company with these two papers is an important essay by Martin Wangh that deals with the need for a working through of the Nazi experience within the German psychoanalytic community—and, as the paper develops, between the German and Israeli mental health communities. An addendum to the paper notes the occurrence, in June 1994, of a working conference, “Germans and Israelis: The Past in the Present.” Fittingly, Rafael Moses was included among the conference's consulting staff.

Here we must leave the Middle East, in the sense of any ready connection with a psychopolitical border. Leo Rangell's “Moral Conflicts, Public Opinion,” also in Part IV, is a psychohistorical review of a number of American political and judicial events from the McCarthy era on through Watergate to the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas “affair” and concluding with the O. J. Simpson trial. Rangell's review is strong on “historical” and weak on “psycho-,” at least in the psychoanalytic sense.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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