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Lebiger-Vogel, J. Rickmeyer, C. Fritzemeyer, K. Hettich, N. Leuzinger-Bohleber, M. Meurs, P. (2020). FIRST STEPS: Psychoanalytically Based Prevention Projects for Migrant and Refugee Families in Belgium and Germany. Int. J. Appl. Psychoanal. Stud., 17(1):22-38.

(2020). International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, 17(1):22-38

FIRST STEPS: Psychoanalytically Based Prevention Projects for Migrant and Refugee Families in Belgium and Germany

Judith Lebiger-Vogel , Constanze Rickmeyer , Korinna Fritzemeyer , Nora Hettich , Marianne Leuzinger-Bohleber and Patrick Meurs

1. Migration, Flight, and Trauma—Some of the Most Urgent Societal Challenges1

In the last years, increasing social inequality and diversity as well as the raise of populist movements have characterized the development within most Western societies. In some parts of society, these developments have led to changes in specific political attitudes toward migration, refugees and the recognition of the trauma that are often experienced in the context of forced migrations. Societal reactions in the context of the so-called “refugee crises” not only refer to unresolved political conflicts; from a psychoanalytical point of view, one can speak about the ambivalences and the anxieties that are triggered in the confrontation with “the stranger,” and associated to it, the “unknown” and “the uncanny” (cf. Leuzinger-Bohleber et al., 2016; Meurs, 2016).

Many psychoanalysts have dealt already with the unconscious roots of xenophobia, islamophobia, antisemitism, right-wing or Islamic radicalism and nationalism. As we know, “the stranger” is a “perfect” white screen on which the intolerable, the tabooed and the split-off of the “Self” (the undesired aspects of the Self; the Stranger within one's Self, as Kristeva (1991) called it) can be projected upon (cf. Appadurai, 2013; Bohleber, 2010). As Bohleber (2012) points out, for example, in antisemitism—and paradoxically in an analogous matter in islamophobia—ubiquitous unconscious fantasy systems are being enacted.

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