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Varvin, S. (2017). Fundamentalist mindset. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 40(2):94-104.

(2017). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 40(2):94-104


Fundamentalist mindset

Sverre Varvin

Fundamentalism has increasingly become a part of the political discourse in western countries and is to a large degree associated Islamic Jihadism. Fundamentalism has, however, been a concern in all religions, especially in Christianity where the term has its origin more than 100 years ago. Fundamentalism is also a concern in professional organisations and this paper starts with a discussion of the relation between fundaments and fundamentalist tendencies in psychoanalysis. This is then related to fundamentalism on a larger scale in religious and political contexts. A central question is how adherence to fundamentals, understood as basic principles for a profession or a religious-political movement, may develop into fundamentalism and how this again may develop into more violent forms. It is argued that fundamentalism develops in historical and societal contexts that involve oppression, atrocities and suffering that can set in motion unconscious processes and that these can attain expression and form in religious–political ideologies. These ideologies can give solutions by among others strengthening societal division and splitting and by identifying scapegoats. Psychoanalytic understanding of mass psychology and unconscious processes at group levels are developed to understand present Islamic and other forms of fundamentalist movements in the European context.

[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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