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Knox, J. (1991). Springer, A. (Berlin). ‘The return of the repressed in the mask of the victim’. Journal of Psychohistory, 17, 3. 1990.. J. Anal. Psychol., 36(3):398-399.

(1991). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 36(3):398-399

Springer, A. (Berlin). The return of the repressed in the mask of the victim. Journal of Psychohistory, 17, 3. 1990.

Review by:
Jean Knox

The Berlin analyst Anne Springer draws attention to a ‘false labelling’ in German society and specifically among some of her patients, whereby non-Jews label them-selves

as Jewish to identify themselves both consciously as victims and also unconsciously with one side of the victim-victimiser archetype. She feels that the children of the Nazi generation adopt the images of persecution of the Jews, such as the yellow Star of David, as part of an attempt to create a ‘false family romance’, by delineating themselves as children of the Jews. She explores the psychological defence mechanisms involved in this identification; the parents' unconscious splitting in relation to their own behaviour in the Nazi era being reflected in similar splits in second and third generations, who project their own destructiveness on to a threatening world in which nuclear war or ecological disaster would make them victims— a process which denies the full horrifying reality of the gas chambers.

She sees that collectively the German people have identified with the victors of the war, thereby projecting ‘evil’ (or unconscious destructiveness) on to a new political enemy, of which Germany becomes a potential victim, requiring draconian security measures which reflect the rigid psychological defences needed to sustain this position. She argues that such projective mechanisms sustain the myth of the Nazi parents that they themselves were victims not persecutors during the war.

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