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Liban, A. Goldman, D. (2000). Freud Comes to Palestine: A Study of Psychoanalysis in A Cultural Context. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 81(5):893-906.

(2000). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 81(5):893-906

Freud Comes to Palestine: A Study of Psychoanalysis in A Cultural Context

Alex Liban and Dodi Goldman

The authors describe the founding of Hashomer Hatzair as a radical Zionist scouting movement in Eastern Europe between 1913 and 1919, a little known episode in the rich history of Freud's impact upon this century. As refugees in Vienna, the young adherents of the movement experienced enormous personal and collective turmoil. Desperate to construct new, viable identities, these intellectually vibrant young men and women were drawn to Freud as part of their project of self-creation. Beginning in the 1920s, as members of Hashomer Hatzair settled in agriculturally based collectives known as kibbutzim, the educational leadership of the movement argued that psychoanalytically informed education was the key to raising children free of bourgeois neuroses. They established strong ties with European analysts, translated and published psychoanalytic texts, insisted that educators be analysed or, at least, psychoanalytically informed, and built a complex educational system founded on their particular understanding of Freudian insights. For them, psychoanalysis was also seen as a general prophylactic guaranteeing the mental hygiene of the community as a whole. The authors examine the complex relationship between Hashomer Hatzair and psychoanalysis. In particular, they ask why these young adults were so drawn to Freud and what their particular reading of the psychoanalytic texts was, and demonstrate how these young pioneers created a ‘usable Freud’ as part of their project of designing and building a utopian society.

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