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Rolnik, E.J. (2002). Between Ideology and Identity: Psychoanalysis in Jewish Palestine (1918-1948). Psychoanal. Hist., 4(2):203-224.

(2002). Psychoanalysis and History, 4(2):203-224

Between Ideology and Identity: Psychoanalysis in Jewish Palestine (1918-1948)

Eran J. Rolnik, M.D.

Last night I had a vivid dream of Jerusalem. But it was a mixture of Vienna forest and Berchtesgaden. It seems that my imagination cannot reach any further than that.

(Anna Freud to Max Eitingon—Letter of 11 May 1934)

The following text hardly qualifies as a definitive diachronical narration of the early history of psychoanalysis in Palestine. My aim is to offer a ‘pan-opticum’, a panoramic view on the building blocks, imageries and aphorisms, which contributed to shaping the transmission of the Freudian paradigm in Jewish Palestine, a place that, albeit remote from Europe, cannot be said to have been indifferent to Central and Eastern European intellectual traditions. Regardless of how much one knows about the life of the founder of psychoanalysis, Freud's name keeps claiming the place of a metaphor in one's mind. To talk about the history of psychoanalysis in a private house that was turned into a museum is to come as near as possible to that imaginary point where a person's life, Freud's private life, transcends the limits of his biography, thereby becoming a discipline, dissolving into metaphor, and turning into a language that is both public and private. Yet I need not tell the ‘Freudian reader’ that this ‘imaginary’ point constitutes the heart of the psychoanalytic endeavour (which dates back to Freud's self-analysis): to understand and communicate that which is most personal and private.

Some of the most recent contributions to the historicization of psychoanalysis concentrated on the transcultural impact of the psychoanalytic movement. It seems that, ever since the teachings of Freud became, in the words of Auden, a ‘whole climate of opinion’, it has become rewarding to juxtapose the history of psychoanalysis in various contexts with the intellectual history of groups and societies whose main endeavour was not identical to that of the psychoanalytic movement itself.

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