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Kemp, M. (2013). Response to Correspondence on ‘Dehumanization, Guilt and Large Group Dynamics with Reference to the West, Israel and the Palestinians’. Brit. J. Psychother., 29(1):110-114.

(2013). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 29(1):110-114

Response to Correspondence

Response to Correspondence on ‘Dehumanization, Guilt and Large Group Dynamics with Reference to the West, Israel and the Palestinians’

Martin Kemp

The basic premise of my paper (Kemp, 2011) was that the degree of anxiety attending discussion of the struggles in Israel/Palestine warranted exploration. I offered an explanation in terms of a dynamic of dehumanization and avoided guilt (the West towards the Jews, and the Israelis towards the Palestinians) making use of concepts Volkan has developed to analyse inter-ethnic conflict (large group identity/tent, chosen trauma, transgenerational transmission, time collapse, irredentist ideologies, etc.). I argued that the consequence is a gulf that has arisen between our stated values and our political affiliations (on reflection, a parallel might be the intervention of the psychoanalytic consultant exploring the tension between the overt philosophy and the actual culture operating within a particular organizational setting (Stokes, 1994, p. 121). My suggestion was both that psychoanalytic theories could illuminate the anxiety and consequent mismatch between values and behaviour, and that the psychoanalytic profession could be seen as an example of this mismatch in operation. The article concluded with some notes on the ethical basis of psychotherapy, and the question whether neutrality provides an adequate basis for an independent perspective on the world around us.

In subsequent editions of the BJP there have appeared letters in response to this article, on which I now have an opportunity to comment further (though these comments are necessarily condensed and assume an acquaintance with the article and the letters themselves).

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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