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Birger, D.M. (1984). The Psychoanalytic Study of Society, IX. 1981: "Immortal" Atatürk—Narcissism and Creativity in a Revolutionary Leader. Vamik D. Volkan. Pp. 221-255.. Psychoanal Q., 53:491.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: The Psychoanalytic Study of Society, IX. 1981: "Immortal" Atatürk—Narcissism and Creativity in a Revolutionary Leader. Vamik D. Volkan. Pp. 221-255.

(1984). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 53:491

The Psychoanalytic Study of Society, IX. 1981: "Immortal" Atatürk—Narcissism and Creativity in a Revolutionary Leader. Vamik D. Volkan. Pp. 221-255.

Daniel M. Birger

This is a fascinating, informative, and crisply written article. The author presents a biography of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey (1881-1938). He emphasizes pertinent psychodynamic elements and proceeds to discuss the effects of Atatürk's early environment on his personality organization. Born to a father twenty years older than his mother, the fourth child to be born after the death of three siblings, Mustafa Kemal was vested with intense emotional bonds to both parents. His father died when he was seven years old, and the relationship with his mother continued as an intense, mutually possessive attachment, defying many conventional features of mother-son relationships. Despite the often dramatic oedipal features of that relationship, the author suggests that preoedipal conflicts of deprivation and oral rage were the dominant ones in it. Atatürk emerged from his childhood an unusually creative and charismatic, yet seriously disturbed person. The author defines his pathology as high-level narcissistic personality organization, with a characteristic grandiose self-image. The specific constellation of Turkey's political, sociocultural, and historical position after the First World War provided an ideal fit between Atatürk's grandiosity and capabilities and the nation's need for a God-like father-redeemer. Atatürk died of cirrhosis of the liver resulting from severe alcoholism. The oral conflicts of his childhood which caused his grandiosity and brought him to the zenith of power were ultimately the cause of his demise.


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Article Citation

Birger, D.M. (1984). The Psychoanalytic Study of Society, IX. 1981. Psychoanal. Q., 53:491

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WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.