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Roth, B. (2015). Banal No More: An Essay on the Film Hannah Arendt, with Special Reference to Eichmann and the Nazi Killing Groups. Psychoanal. Rev., 102(2):265-289.

(2015). Psychoanalytic Review, 102(2):265-289

Banal No More: An Essay on the Film Hannah Arendt, with Special Reference to Eichmann and the Nazi Killing Groups

Bennett Roth, Ph.D.

This movie review and essay about the recent film Hannah Arendt by director Margarethe von Trotta seeks to examine Arendt's controversial term “banality of evil” as well as the nature of Arendt's misperception of Adolph Eichmann as thoughtless, and to situate Eichmann's personality within recent understandings of totalitarian group behavior and organizational killers. What emerges is that Arendt was unable to understand Eichmann's ruthless indifference to others as well as his attraction to being a Nazi and to organized mass killing. This paper examines Mann's (2005) formulation of different levels of functional attraction to totalitarian perpetrators, in which a racial morality is imposed and restrictions to eliminist violence are removed. Under such group conditions, violent “sleeper” needs emerge and are rationalized by political beliefs. In conclusion, the term “banality of evil” has little explanative value, while violent mass murder continues to this day as a totalitarian solution.

[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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