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Ornstein, A. (2015). Psychoanalytic Purviews: The Fundamentalist Mindset: Psychological Perspectives on Religion, Violence, and History. Edited by Charles B. Strozier, David M. Terman, and James W. Jones, with Katherine A. Boyd. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010, xxii + 274 pp., $105.00 hardcover, $20.95 paperback.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 63(1):177-182.

(2015). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 63(1):177-182

Psychoanalytic Purviews: The Fundamentalist Mindset: Psychological Perspectives on Religion, Violence, and History. Edited by Charles B. Strozier, David M. Terman, and James W. Jones, with Katherine A. Boyd. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010, xxii + 274 pp., $105.00 hardcover, $20.95 paperback.

Review by:
Anna Ornstein

During the twentieth century and now into the twenty-first, we have witnessed an increase in terrorist violence, genocide, and mass murder. This makes The Fundamentalist Mindset one of the timeliest books in recent memory. The book's contributors, from various disciplines (religious studies, clinical and social psychology, psychoanalysis, and history), help the reader appreciate that we are dealing here with an overdetermined social-psychological phenomenon, one that in its extreme forms threatens our civilization.

The book is divided into four parts. The first two offer definitions of the phenomenon and psychoanalytic and social-psychological insights into the fundamentalist mindset. The last two parts focus on the Christian/American and global/historical contexts in which fundamentalism has taken root. This four-part organization, presented with clearly articulated objectives and careful scholarship, facilitates comprehension and ensures the reader's interest and engagement in this complex subject matter.

The main focus of the book is on the psychological aspects of fundamentalism. As Charles Strozier and David Terman state in their introduction, “this book is systematically and unabashedly psychological in its approach” (p. 5). This focus is justified because these psychological aspects unify the chapters of the book as the fundamentalist mindset is seen to manifest itself in various social, historical, and religious contexts. Maintenance of this psychological focus is indeed one of the book's strong points, a major achievement in a multi-authored book. In the introduction, the reader is reminded that the fundamentalist mindset encompasses a spectrum, ranging from its mildest to its most severe forms, from the subtle and socially benign (Buddhism, other Eastern religions) to its noisiest, most violent expression in mass killings and genocide.

[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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