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Wangh, M. (1981). Cyprus—War and Adaptation. A Psychoanalytic History of Two Ethnic Groups in Conflict: By Vamik D. Volkan, M.D. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1979. 192 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 50:436-441.
    

(1981). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 50:436-441

Cyprus—War and Adaptation. A Psychoanalytic History of Two Ethnic Groups in Conflict: By Vamik D. Volkan, M.D. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1979. 192 pp.

Review by:
Martin Wangh

Vamik D. Volkan's book is bound to be of interest to those analysts who are intrigued by problems of the emigrant-immigrant analyst who has passed from one cultural environment to another, and to those who seek ways by which psychoanalysis can make a contribution to the understanding of history or of the evolution of social events in general.

Volkan suggests that the chief source of the bloody conflict between the Greeks and the Turks on the island of Cyprus is the fear of merging, of losing identity, and that underneath this fear lies a strong, regressive tendency toward a return to a symbiotic relationship with a clan's powerful mother. According to the author, the maternal figure is powerful among Greeks and Turks alike, despite the fact that externally these family clans are organized along strongly paternal, authoritarian lines. The persistent need for distancing oneself from such a central mother figure is met in major ways by defensive "splitting." (Kernberg's discussion of the borderline and narcissistic personality is Volkan's main guide in viewing ethnic matters in this way.) The existing "bipolarity" of Greeks and Turks lends itself to and is fostered for purposes of "externalization." By displacing the central conflict with the mother from the intrafamilial to the interethnic arena, the members of the groups achieve and maintain repression. The displacement is entirely ego-syntonic because from early on the Turkish mother, having been brought up in the same way, feeds prejudice against the Greek.

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