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Schmidt-Löw-Beer, C. Atria, M. Davar, E. (2015). Communism and the Trauma of its Collapse Revisited. Am. J. Psychoanal., 75(4):394-415.

(2015). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 75(4):394-415

Communism and the Trauma of its Collapse Revisited

Catherine Schmidt-Löw-Beer, M.D., Ph.D., Moira Atria, Ph.D. and Elisha Davar, M.A.

This paper focuses on the intertwinement of society and the psyche as a consequence of 70 years of Communist rule and the trauma of its collapse in the 90's. The trauma had profound effects on the psyche. An empirical study that was carried out in 1996/1997, which compared the personality structure of adolescents from Russia and Austria, and a research dialogue in 1999, has been re-evaluated in the light of current political events. One aim that we had was to find out whether we could discover characteristic personality features, resulting from the Communist totalitarian society in Russia, as well as from the trauma of its collapse. This led to the development of the concepts of the “impersonal self” and the “denial mode”. The Russians seemed to be frozen in a protective shell with “flat” affects. They were anxious, conflict avoidant, and somewhat lost. Ideas about missing adolescence and the importance of privacy are discussed. Society was shown to not only have intruded into the individual psyche, but also into the members of the intercultural research team in the form of projective identification. The importance of the interaction between society and the individual as a basic psychoanalytic concept dating back to Freud is elaborated. Finally, considerations pertaining to mental health and democracy are presented.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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