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Ostow, M. (1996). Myth And Madness: A Report Of A Psychoanalytic Study Of Antisemitism. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 77:15-31.

(1996). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 77:15-31

Myth And Madness: A Report Of A Psychoanalytic Study Of Antisemitism

Mortimer Ostow

This essay reports the findings and conclusions of a psychoanalytic study of antisemitism based upon case reports and classical, historical and literary documents. With respect to antisemitic sentiments, individual dynamics are overridden by stereotypical myths. After the definitive secession of early Jewish and Gentile Christ followers from the Jewish community at the end of the first century Common Era, the Jews were stigmatised and demonised by them and by the early Church fathers and labelled as a principle of evil, along with Satan, that was to blame for all Christian misfortune. The many antisemitic myths that evolved throughout the history of the Christian West all concurred in this theme. Apocalyptic thinking required such a principle as the source of the death phase, so that the elimination of Jews became the condition for the rebirth phase. In the presence of a sense of disorganisation and chaos, societies congeal into fundamentalist groups that require a mythic enemy. These groups tend to cultivate apocalyptic paranoia. Under those circumstances, anti-Jewish sentiment and discrimination become active persecution. The essay, and to a much greater extent, the book upon which it is based, examine some of the findings of the case studies, analyse apocalyptic thinking and describe the psychology of the fundamentalist community.

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