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Parens, H. (2017). Commentary on Yasser Ad-Dab′bagh′s “Islamophobia: Prejudice, the Psychological Skin of the Self and Large-Group Dynamics”. Int. J. Appl. Psychoanal. Stud., 14(3):183-191.

(2017). International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, 14(3):183-191


Commentary on Yasser Ad-Dab′bagh′s “Islamophobia: Prejudice, the Psychological Skin of the Self and Large-Group Dynamics” Related Papers

Henri Parens

In “the land of the brave and the free”, where the land′s Constitution mandates freedom of speech, of religion, of ethnicity, Ad-Dab′bagh feels compelled to bring us a well conceptualized set of ideas in which he attempts to address some of the recent bewildering events that have challenged what this land stands for, and attempts to explain some of the consequences wrought by these recent events, hoping that this conceptualizations may shed some light on how these affect many among us. He is therewith adding to our understanding of human experience which, in turn may lead humans to solutions of the kind we analysts may offer society. And with this he is adding meaningfully to the collection of writings by psychoanalysts who are committed to addressing societal problems viewed through the lens of psychoanalysis. Yes, in doing so we must be aware of the limitations we face in applying psychoanalytic thought to understanding and giving explanation toward reducing social problems. And, of course, there are skeptics among us who are still convinced that psychoanalysis has no place in addressing large-group or any societal disorders at all. I want to remind us that in 1933, Freud wrote that.

there is one topicI must mentionbecause it is so exceedingly important, so rich in hopes for the future, perhaps the most important of all the activities of analysis. What I am thinking of is the application of psychoanalysis to education, to the upbringing of the next generation. (Freud, 1933, p. 146).

I have long taken this observation to mean that we must consider moving out of our consultation room to address issues on which psychoanalysis can shed light most usefully, in addition to that of child rearing and education, and potentially therewith enhance our ability to resolve problems that have long besieged society the world-over. In this volume, Ad-Dab′bagh takes up such a problem in his attempt to shed some light on the worrisome rise of Islamophobia, specifically in the United States.

1. Individual and Large-Group Identity and the “Skin of the Self”

I find Ad-Dab′bagh′s “skin of the self” an interesting and useful model to bear in mind. As Ad-Dab′bagh observes, it enriches and complements some propositions put forward by Volkan on large group identity formation.

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