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Silverman, H. Parger, J. (2004). The Middle East crisis: Psychoanalytic reflections. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 85(5):1265-1268.

(2004). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 85(5):1265-1268

The Middle East crisis: Psychoanalytic reflections

Reported by:
Helen Silverman

Moderator Jeffrey Parger

The estranging force of conditions inside Palestine is growing year by year … Thus for internal and external reasons, it seems probable that the situation bad as it now is, will grow worse. The conflict will go on. The gulf between Arabs and Jews will widen

(The Peel Commission, London, 1937, cited in Hertzberg, 2003, p. 35).

The Middle East still remains fraught with violence and tragedy for all participants. This seemingly prophetic assessment of 65 years ago does not mean that we should give up the struggle to seek a workable resolution, but does point to the longstanding complexity and difficulty of the problem.

Psychoanalyst and sociologist Prager, a writer on the problem of memory and experience of trauma, and the role that present sociological and psychodynamic contexts play in them (1998), introduced the panel by emphasizing the ways in which the present has the potential to distort memory and thereby can result in pathological repetitions of the past. He suggested that an emphasis on the restructuring of the present has the potential for redoing memory and establishing new conditions for a more hopeful future.

The psychoanalytic model assumes that the source of pain is the experiencing of the present through the distorting lens of the past. However, the people living in the Middle East are daily experiencing trauma and the disruption of ordinary social life. Prager indicated that psychoanalysis has had little to say about these phenomena: of living over time in crisis, in unrelenting traumatic uncertainty.

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