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Marcus, P. (1997). Myth and Madness: The Psychodynamics of Antisemitism by Mortimer Ostow New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 1996, xiii + 191 pp., $32.95The Cry of Mute Children: A Psychoanalytic Perspective of the Second Generation of the Holocaust by Ilany Kogan London: Free Association Books, 1995, 178 pp., $45.00. Psa. Books, 8(2):236-245.
(1997). Psychoanalytic Books, 8(2):236-245
Myth and Madness: The Psychodynamics of Antisemitism by Mortimer Ostow New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 1996, xiii + 191 pp., $32.95The Cry of Mute Children: A Psychoanalytic Perspective of the Second Generation of the Holocaust by Ilany Kogan London: Free Association Books, 1995, 178 pp., $45.00
Review by: Paul Marcus, Ph.D.
Mortimer Ostow, a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst and professor emeritus at The Jewish Theological Seminary of America, has compiled an informative and thoughtful volume on “the mental mechanisms motivating…antisemitism” (p. 29). The book, a report of a nine-year study undertaken by the Psychoanalytic Research and Development Fund, largely consists of the presentation to each other and discussion of case material (ten in depth and four less intensively) by a group of 17 psychoanalysts, including such prominent analysts as Martin S. Bergmann, Jacob Arlow, Peter Neubauer, and Milton Jucovy. Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, the Salo Wittmayer Baron Professor of Jewish History, Culture and Society at Columbia University and author of Freud's Moses: Judaism Terminable and Interminable(Yerushalmi, 1990), among other psychoanalytically informed works, led the group in the study of selected historical materials, current literary productions, and classic myths relevant to understanding the psychodynamics of anti-Semitism.
As Ostow points out, of the very few studies of the psychodynamics of anti-Semitism, the majority have tried to associate anti-Semitism with specific dynamic or with personality profiles or intergroup relations. “None of them,” he claims, strives for “an integrated approach to the problem and none of them attempts to relate the psychologic factors to the actual history of antisemitism. One also misses a psychologic study of antisemitic myths and any distinction between antisemitic attitudes and the pogrom mentality” (p.
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