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Meyer, L. (2016). The Totalitarian Mind. Rev. psychoanal. psychoter., 18(2):37-45.

(2016). Revue psychoanalytická psychoterapie, 18(2):37-45

The Totalitarian Mind

Luiz Meyer

Although various oppressive regimes have been described over history, such as absolutism, authoritarianism, military dictatorships, etc., the twentieth century produced a form of violent domination without precedent: totalitarianism, whose dynamics, having as chief models Nazism and Stalinism, are masterfully described in Hannah Arendt's seminal work “The origins of totalitarianism”. Its characteristic mark, its foundation, is generalized and undifferentiated terror and adherence to this terror by both those who produce it and those who are subject to it.

This paper was originally written for the IPA Congress in Prague, located a few kilometers away from Lidice, a village that symbolizes the functioning of totalitarian violence. It proposes to discuss the nature of the totalitarian mind.

It attempts to describe, from the psychoanalytical perspective, the mental structure that creates and promotes a conception of personality and human relations, that makes totalitarian functioning natural and institutionalized, justifying it and supporting its perpetuation.

In order to attain this goal, it is necessary to perform an operation that extinguishes the inter-object dialogue, and, by colonizing the mind, to substitute it by mimetic adherence. In this way the totalitarian mind operates substituting polysemy by univocity, extinguishing any possibility of idiosyncratic expression.

The paper thus describes what type of mental structure is necessary to create the dehumanised relationships that characterize the totalitarian mind and with what object it is identified in order to function in that way.

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