Last updated: 11, Feb., 2009 

     THALASSA. Portolano of Psychoanalysis



NEWS 2008





"J'ai la honte" de Abram Coen


"Remémoration, traumatisme et mémoire collective - Le combat pour la emémoration en psychanalyse"  de W. Bohleber



"De quoi témoignent les mains des survivants? De l'anéantissement des vivants, de l'affirmation de la vie" de Janine Altounian

"Les cachés de la folie" de J.-P. Verot  

  "La difficoltà di dire io. L'esperienza del diario nel conflitto inter-jugoslavo di fine Novecento" di Nicole Janigro (source: "Frenis Zero" revue)


  "I Balcani" di Predrag Matvejevic (source:  "Frenis Zero" revue)

  "La Shoah e la distruttività umana" di A. A. Semi (source:   A.S.S.E.Psi. web site)

"Breve Storia della Psicoanalisi in Italia" di Cotardo Calligaris (source: A.S.S.E.Psi. web site)

"The Meaning of Medication in Psychoanalysis" by Salomon Resnik (source: A.S.S.E.Psi. web site)

"Note sulla storia italiana dell'analisi laica" di Giancarlo Gramaglia (source: "Frenis Zero" revue )

"Adriatico" di Predrag Matvejevic

"Mon Adriatique" de Predrag Matvejevic




Balkans        *Serbia (History of Psychoanalysis in)
Eastern Europe
• EU
• Italy
Turkey, Armenia and Caucasian Rep.
Tatiana Rosenthal and Russian Psychoanalysis

 History of Russian Psychoanalysis by Larissa Sazanovitch


- Syria

 - Jordan

- Lebanon


- Egypt 



- Algeria

- Libya



Questo testo è tratto dal discorso pronunciato da J.-P. Vernant (morto il 9.01.2007) nel 1999, in occasione del 50° anniversario del Consiglio d'Europa, e che è inscritto sul ponte che collega Strasburgo a Kehl:

<<Passare un ponte, traversare un fiume, varcare una frontiera, è lasciare lo spazio intimo e familiare ove si è a casa propria per penetrare in un orizzonte differente, uno spazio estraneo, incognito, ove si rischia - confrontati a ciò che è altro - di scoprirsi senza

 "luogo proprio", senza identità. Polarità dunque dello spazio umano, fatto di un dentro e di un fuori. Questo "dentro" rassicurante, turrito, stabile, e questo "fuori" inquietante, aperto, mobile, i Greci antichi hanno espresso sotto la forma di una coppia di divinità unite e opposte: Hestia e Hermes. Hestia è la dea del focolare, nel cuore della casa. Tanto Hestia è sedentaria, vigilante sugli esseri umani e le ricchezze che protegge, altrettanto Hermes è nomade, vagabondo: passa incessantemente da un luogo all'altro, incurante delle frontiere, delle chiusure, delle barriere. Maestro degli scambi, dei contatti, è il dio delle strade ove guida il viaggiatore, quanto Hestia mette al riparo tesori nei segreti penetrali delle case.  Divinità che si oppongono, certo, e che pure sono indissociabili. E' infatti all'altare della dea, nel cuore delle dimore private e degli edifici pubblici che sono, secondo il rito, accolti, nutriti, ospitati gli stranieri venuti di lontano. Perché ci sia veramente un "dentro", bisogna che possa aprirsi su un "fuori", per accoglierlo in sé. Così ogni individuo umano deve assumere la parte di Hestia e la parte di Hermes. Tra le rive del Medesimo e dell'Altro, l'uomo è un ponte>>.







 (in english)



by Judith Deutsch





 Judith Deutsch is psychoanalyst, member of Toronto Psychoanalytic Institute.




In this paper I look at the other side of this siege and try to understand how Jewish people do to others what was done to them and not see it.   The psychological factors to be examined are cruelty and humiliation and the absence of conscience. 

         Along with the many shocking atrocities of the 20th and 21st centuries has come an unprecedented availability and accessibility of facts – now, eyewitness accounts and u-tube videos bypass censors. Acknowledgement of atrocity and brutality is implied in the national and international resolutions and conventions prohibiting this kind of behavior and through mechanisms of restraint such as peacekeepers, economic sanctions, courts…yet the crimes persist and threats grow worse (including the Middle East, nuclear weapons proliferation, climate change). What lies behind the paralysis to stop this cruelty, what allows the blatant lies, and what does it mean to “know” when this does not guide behavior?

         If  one is interested in knowing the facts about Gaza, it is easy to know exactly about Israel’s war crimes...conducted with the complicity of other countries.    I will quote from the Olga Document for one example, signed by two hundred eminent Israelis:  “If we muster within ourselves the appropriate honesty and requisite courage, we will be able to take the first step in the long journey that can extricate us from the tangle of denial, repression, distortion of reality, loss of direction and forsaking of conscience….We are united in the belief that peace and reconciliation are contingent on Israel’s recognition of its responsibility for the injustices done to the indigenous people, the Palestinians, and on willingness to redress them.  The State of Israel was supposed to tear down the walls of the ghetto; it is now constructing the biggest ghetto in the entire history of the Jews…. [I] it has set up a colonial structure, combining unmistakable elements of apartheid with the arbitrariness of brutal military occupation.”

         On a psychological level, it is entirely predictable that brutalizing, impoverishing, and humiliating a people will lead to violence.  And it is known that violence is entirely preventable.  The psychoanalyst director of a state prison system in the U.S. eliminated all violence within that state’s prisons by ridding the system of all incidents of humiliation, by treating people with respect – there were no murders, suicides, prison riots, gang rapes.   Further, he found that the primary cause for the deep feelings of humiliation, leading to violence, comes from extreme poverty.[1]

         It is also known, and predictable, that humiliating parents in front of their children will be devastating for children.  In an article published last July, Dr. El-Sarraj writes: “For many of these children the most excruciating ordeal was to see their fathers being beaten by Israeli soldiers – and not offering any resistance.  This is truly a terrifying experience….This will have a lasting impact on any observer, but particularly on children.  No wonder the Palestinian child will see his model not in his father, but in that soldier; and no wonder his language will be the language of force and his toys and games the toys and games of death.” (page 4).  In an earlier report, Dr. El-Sarraj wrote: “those children were subjected to several traumatic and violent experiences including beating, bone-breaking, injury, tear gas and acts of killing and injury, all of which experiences have left indelible effects on their psyche.  Yet, to many, the most excruciating experience was seeing their fathers beaten helpless by Israeli soldiers without resistance.” 

         Freud similarly described the impact in his own life of his father’s humiliation, linking it with his own ideal of seeking violent revenge.  His father said: “A Christian came up to me and with a single blow knocked off my cap into the mud and shouted: ‘Jew! Get off the pavement!’ ‘And what did you do [the young Freud asked his father]?’  ‘I went into the roadway and picked up my cap,’ was his quiet reply.  This struck me as unheroic conduct on the part of the big, strong man who was holding the little boy by the hand.  I contrasted this situation with another which fitted my feelings better: the scene in which Hannibal’s father… made his boy swear before the household altar to take vengeance on the Romans.”  [2]

         Dr. Nurit Peled-Elhanan, an Israeli mother who lost her daughter to a suicide bombing, talks about the daily humiliation of Palestinian mothers in front of their children:   “I have never experienced the suffering Palestinian women undergo every day, every hour.  I don’t know the kind of violence that turns a woman’s life into constant hell.  This daily physical and mental torture of women who are deprived of their basic human rights and needs of privacy and dignity, women whose homes are broken into at any moment of day and night, who are ordered at a gun-point to strip naked in front of strangers and their own children….”  As I write this paper, Amnesty International has just sent a message about Israel barring Gazan mothers from accompanying their infants for life-saving surgery. 

         What can psychoanalysis contribute to understanding such cruelty, to understanding   how reality is so reversed into its opposite that most Israelis and their supporters believe that Israel is under siege, not Gaza?  In 1930 Freud himself refused to sign a Zionist petition condemning Palestinian riots against waves of Jewish immigrants.  He wrote:  “I concede with sorrow that the baseless fanaticism of our people is in part to be blamed for the awakening of Arab distrust.”[3]  Sadly, psychoanalysts have not followed in Freud’s footsteps. The late Dr. George Awad, a Palestinian psychoanalyst and colleague in Toronto, addressed psychoanalytic prejudices:  “I wish that my analytic colleagues would begin studying Arab and Islamic history, religions and societies before they start telling us about the mind of a group about which they know very little.  …What they tell us about the minds of the ‘others’ is nothing more than a projection of their fantasies.”

         But Freud himself offers much. First, part of his genius was to feel his way into the minds of youth, their deep confusions, fears, and vulnerabilities.  Central to his thinking is the dichotomy between illusion and reality.  What makes it possible to face the truth? In two documentaries about Israel/Palestine I will discuss the ways that Jewish adults exploit youth by provoking the specific anxieties of each phase of childhood and by offering an excitedly violent solution to deeply held fears.   In this state of fear, there is an unquestioning acceptance of exciting distortions of reality and a pull to identify with the aggressor.   From early childhood, there is interference with the mastery of the essential psychological tasks that make for citizenship in a democracy:  the capacity for individual responsibility, for repairing wrongdoing and shameful acts, for feeling concern for others.


Film #1:  Avi Mograbi’s “Avenge But One of My Two Eyes.”

         In this documentary, Avi Mograbi subtly observes how Israeli youth of all ages are taught two suicide terrorist myths as foundation of their Israeli identity.  The myths are taught as historical fact, already blurring fantasy and reality.  Allegedly, at Masada,  nine hundred sixty Jews kill themselves and their children rather than surrender to the Romans.  Samson, reacting to humiliation, pulls down the pillars of a temple, killing 3,000 people along with himself.  In every instance, Mograbi shows adults teaching these myths without any awareness that the gruesome facts might be frightening or upsetting to their youthful audience.  Children learn from the adults how not to notice distress or uncomfortable feelings.  Nor do the adults seem even remotely aware of any irony in their glorification of suicide terrorism.  In many scenes, Mograbi also films how young Israeli soldiers are utterly impervious to the distress of Palestinians as they interact at checkpoints.   What Israeli youth learn from an early age is to shut out perception of the inner psychological world – a recipe for fascism.

         Early childhood:  Here we see an Orthodox father who takes his young children to a cave to tell the story.  He speaks with relish and admiration about Samson’s strength and about his out-of-control sadistic behavior.  “The Lord’s spirit came upon him mightily…”  When Samson the Hero went to Gaza, “the lion wanted to kill Samson the Hero but he tore him apart with his bare hands.  When he returned from Gaza, Samson the Hero took the bounty of honey he’d found inside the lion….   He had a spiritual power.  Every punch of his would kill 10,000 people.”

         Young children identify with animals and struggle to master their own out-of-control impulses which are often sadistic, greedy, oral.  Here the father stirs up these specific anxieties in their most terrifying form, stating that it is admirable and exciting to mutilate and kill,  to steal all the food.  The only way not to feel vulnerable is to identify with Samson.

         I will briefly digress to speak about the Rorschach test of Sirhan B. Sirhan who killed Robert Kennedy.  The test responses illustrate these same connections or associations – namely, the terrifying images of mutilation in early childhood, its oral character, and their representation through animals.  Certainly there is a difference between real experience and stories, but here I wish to illustrate how young children think.  Clearly for Sirhan, these early experiences continued to overwhelm him.

         Sirhan was a child during the war of 1948.  By the age of five, “he witnessed a bomb explosion at the Damascus Gate that left mutilated Arab corpses in the street; he observed his older brother run over and killed by a Zionist truck trying to avoid sniper fire; he discovered the body of an Arab neighbor; he observed portions of a British soldier’s body dangling from a church tower….”   Many of his responses illustrate the connection for him between mutilation, orality, and terror – here are responses to two cards:  In Card I,  “looks like the back part of a chicken . . . . it’s very bony.  Looks like the internal dissection of it….this looks like the cloaca.”   Card 10: “This whole color --- it throws me off!  Monsters! It’s a cacophony of colors, a hodgepodge.   All those legs!  This looks like some kind of rat.  No, not a rat – it flies – a bat….I seem to associate the whole thing negatively with blood.  It looks like liver to me – some kind of meat.  I’d rather not even discuss it – I’d rather not even discuss it.   All those legs.”   Interestingly, the interpreters of his Rorschach do not connect these responses with his early childhood experiences of witnessing mutilation (Meloy, 1992, pp 273-278).

         Early school-age (Oedipal): There is a scene at a family picnic table. A five or six year old boy sits between his parents.  They are all playing with plasticine, molding the Samson story.  The father pleasantly says:  “He was blind.   We forgot that.    They had blinded him.    They poked his eyes out.    And he couldn’t see.”  Samson asked a boy to take him to the pillars where he “made everything tumble down, killing 3,000 people that day.   That was more people than he’d killed in his lifetime.”   The father continues:   “We have to make holes for eyes because he had no eyes.   They had poked his eyes out.   Look at the eyes mom made.”  She carefully pokes two holes.  “They look like Samson’s caves.”

         For an oedipal-aged boy, blinding equals castration.  Any bodily injury is threatening and is generally experienced as a punishment.  These parents focus on the blinding over and over again.  They imply that a young boy was complicit for he took Samson to the temple.  Again, these parents show no awareness of how their words might affect their child – are they completely oblivious, or are they wanting or needing him to be terrified?  If he is to not feel vulnerable, is his best recourse an identification with the aggressor?

         School-age children (latency):  At a secular primary school, a woman teacher dramatically reads about Samson to nine or ten year old children.  “Imagine the situation.  Samson is blind but he can still hear the crowd’s cheers of jubilation, the mocking laughter.  Do you think he accepts his fate?  Try to get into his mind, into his thoughts.  Who wants to imagine what’s going through his head?”  One boy answers:  “He may think he’d better commit suicide than be defeated by the enemies who tortured him.  Moreover, committing suicide means that he can control how he dies.  If they kill him no one else will be hurt.  But if he commits suicide he can kill a lot of Philistines.”  The teacher dramatically reads this passage: “O Lord God, remember me and strengthen me just this once, that I may say avenge but one of my two eyes upon the Philistines.”  She enacts how Samson took hold of the pillars and pushes with all his might.  There is great pleasure and excitement in the class, boys competing to answer questions.  There is clearly no attempt to understand or empathize with the feeling of humiliation and vulnerability, but there is explicit sanction to murder – an equation of strength, murderous aggression, and pleasurable excitement.    Psychological tasks at this age include developing a capacity to cooperate as equals in peer relationships, developing an individual conscience that is fair and workable, so that punishment does not mean killing but involves figuring out and fixing problems.

         The facility with which adults can shut off thinking and feeling was brought home to me by a ten year old girl.  On 9/11/01, she came to the session saddened and sober by the news.  She quietly wondered what it would be like to be a child who came home from school to find that her father had been killed.  Her thoughts led to the perpetrators and in a somber voice wondered what had led them to attack so many people and she felt that they must have their reasons too.  In the next session she was in an excited mood, saying that her school had arranged a contest to see which class raised the most money for the victims and that there would be a pizza prize.  Clearly the teachers could not tolerate listening to complex reactions and my patient had identified with their defenses and had stopped thinking and feeling with the people of 9/11.

         Adolescence:   There are a number of scenes about adolescents and young adults.  A tour guide speaks to a group in a hypnotic voice, asking them to close their eyes and to empathize with the ancient Jews under siege at Masada.  He constantly shifts the pronouns “we” and “you” – asking that each identify with the group. “I want you to shut your eyes….we’ll hear…what did we hear?  One at a time . . . I want you to think you’re part of these 960 people because in some way you are.  Go back to your history, to our history.”  They  are asked to look at the remains of the cruel “separation wall” and the watchtowers built by the Romans.  No one makes the connection that they themselves are now the builders of watchtowers and separation walls. After being told to empathize with the ancient victims and to listen to their feelings, Mograbi films soldiers who refuse to listen to or to look at Palestinians waiting at checkpoints or waiting for emergency medical relief. In one scene at Masada a group is asked to choose what they would do if under siege.  The largest group cheerfully chooses suicide terrorism, saying that if they were going to die they might as well kill their enemy at the same time.  No one seems uncomfortable or reflective, much less challenging of authority.   

         In a number of scenes the suicide heroes of Masada and Samson become sexualized and exciting.  At a right-wing rally of Kach followers, an older rock singer arouses his young male followers into a sexualized frenzy, singing “Our Father lives on… The People of Israel live….WE ARE ALL WITH KAHANA   Remember me    Strengthen me   Only this once, O God, only this once   That I may avenge but one of my two eyes   Avenge but one of my two eyes upon Palestine   Revenge, revenge, revenge….”  He has an intense sexualized hold on his young followers, inculcating them into a cult of racism and violence and psychotically mixing up Philistine with Palestine and masculinity with vengeance.

         Mograbi films young hip looking men talking about Samson.   “Samson the Hero was one hell of a Rastafari.  He has seven dreadlocks on his head.”  “…he killed 1000 Philistines with a donkey’s jawbone.  The spirit of God must have been with him.”  Another man says that if people called for help, “Samson comes:  boom!”   “Samson was like Popeye.”  “The spirit of God took hold of him.  Boom!  Who will take me on?  He comes, lifts the city gates, beats them up…. 10,000 Philistines.”  Another man says “It’s not about strength, it’s about magnetism and courage.  The courage of a man who has the strength to say:  ‘I’m going and god is with me.’ He does what must be done, with total faith.”  This is an authoritarian solution to the task of individuation – “total faith” and magic rather than being able to think and being able to work hard to develop real competence. It is phallic narcissistic – masculinity and sexuality mean power and killing. 

         Another guide at Masada is unambiguously seductive and manipulative as he exhorts a group of attractive female adolescents to sacrifice themselves for him.   “What resolve does a person need to drive a knife into his flesh to avoid falling into the hands of his enemy!  What resolve!    So sometimes we reach the point where we say: ‘Better to die’ than fall into the hands of those beasts. Would a woman commit suicide along with her child? Yes, just to avoid being captured by the Romans.  She knows that she will become a sex slave, that her child will fall into the hands of some pedophile and who knows what’ll happen to him.  None of those occupiers enter a house as enlightened men.  They didn’t just move on when they saw a woman after fighting for years in some desert.  No!  They unleash their urges.  They don’t think twice.  They are not like us….     When you leave this place, lovely girls, remember one thing. … we’re entrenched here and I hope that today I manage to deepen your roots in this land.” He then throws them a kiss.  This guide crosses generational incest boundaries by demanding loyalty to himself.  He depicts sexuality as an exciting sado-masochistic experience which the women must forego for him. 

         There are many levels of pathology in these scenes.  The recurrent evocation of being the victim serves as a moral entitlement to be guiltlessly aggressive.    The sexualized excitement makes these fantasies particularly hard to give up.  As told to youth at various ages, the way the myths are told circumvents the hard work of dealing with phase-specific developmental tasks by offering fantasy solutions at every step.  The telling of the stories has its own cruelty:  they dwell on mutilation just when children are most terrified of bodily injury and safety; unquestioning admiration of powerful authority is taught when children just begin to have the capacity to form their own fair conscience and not just rely on harsh external authority; guides press for loyalty to the group at a time when teens waver between finding their own identity vs. conforming to others; adults are overtly seductive when adolescents need to distance themselves from incestuous wishes.    Using children in these ways to satisfy adult needs is a fundamental aspect of abuse (Novick and Novick, 1996).  By stirring up anxiety and then coupling it with exciting fantasy solutions, adults and children collude in not acknowledging reality and in not developing the ability to sustain tension.[4] 

         Another implication here is that these Israelis know exactly what conditions produce violence, namely hopelessness, rage, and humiliation.  Psychologically, we know that there are mechanisms for provoking others to act out, particularly in youth or in people who are dependent.  Projective identification differs from simple projection in that the warded off behavior is provoked in another person (Robert Furman).  In this way, the Israeli soldier would need the Palestinian to behave in an aggressive way and would continually provoke this kind of behavior in order to minimize his own anxiety and to justify his own grandiosity and aggressiveness.  There is a similar dynamic in delinquent families where a parent conveys to a child that he is expected to behave in an unacceptable way. In this way a parent evades responsibility while at the same time gratifying forbidden wishes.  (Johnson and Szurek).  

         The film ends on a positive note in that Mograbi himself comes to express rage at the checkpoint soldiers who persistently ignore the children waiting to go home.  The soldiers are mechanical and cold, and they reverse the sense of responsibility, telling Mograbi that he should be ashamed, and that he should even be shamed in front of his children (just as described by Dr. El-Sarraj).  These soldiers unconsciously know that humiliating parents in front of their children is so damaging.    Mograbi dedicates the film “to my son Shaul and to his friends who refuse to learn to kill.”



Film #2:  Juliano Mer-Khamis’ “Arna’s Children”

         Arna Mer is a revered Israeli woman, married to a Palestinian communist party functionary, fluent in Arabic, who founded a children’s theater in the Jenin refugee camp in 1989.  She received the Right Livelihood Award, also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize, in Stockholm.  One of her sons made this documentary about her on the eve of her death.  Although she was utterly sympathetic with the Palestinian cause, my own sense was that she was nonetheless harmful to these youth in many of the same ways as depicted in the Mograbi film. 

          From the start, we see Arna as a forceful and defiant woman.  She has terminal cancer and leaves the hospital against medical orders to attend a protest against a checkpoint closure.  She stands in a line with younger protestors but is the most active, whistling and gesturing to drivers to honk, confronting soldiers.  We next see her at the children’s theater, directing children where to sit.  She joins in with the youth choir singing a rousing activism song about being the only children in the world deprived of freedom, about children being tortured and dying in prison cells, about the struggle for freedom.  And she then gives a spirited speech about the intifada, that there is no freedom without knowledge and no peace without freedom, that peace and freedom are bound together.  She rouses the child audience into excited chants of peace and freedom.

         Later in the film we learn something of her past.  As a young and beautiful teen she was in the Palmach.  She says that everything was beautiful, even the most horrible things.  They were full of youth and excitement, full of courage, pride, beauty, power.  Driving the army jeep, wearing the kaffiyeh, was exciting, “an age thing.”  Even driving on the sidewalks and chasing people onto the street was exciting.  They were the Jewish fighters, being young and crazy.  She enjoyed it very much, leading a wild life.  Her only regret was driving away the Bedouins. Otherwise she says she did no harm. Yet, developmentally healthy adolescents are capable of distinguishing right from wrong and of taking responsibility for their actions which often means struggling with moral tension.   

         In several scenes she brings the wild excitement to her work with youth, allowing aggressive outbursts that become uncontrolled and sadistic.  In one scene, a child named Ala has just lost his home to a demolition, and his neighbour’s home is badly damaged.   Ala looks forlorn, withdrawn.   Arna invites both boys to express their anger, saying that “when you’re angry you have to express it.”  She encourages one boy to curse and even invites him to hit her, praising him for his expressiveness, and for a moment all the children except Ala join in.  In another scene a child is invited to imitate his cruel English teacher and we see cruelty in the boy’s face as he is carried away and hits all the other boys.  In yet another scene, we see Arna’s son Juliano enjoying a drama exercise in which children are instructed to behave like angry dogs (this at an age when on their own, children do not imitate animals).  The children are not really allowed to speak for themselves, to reveal their own thoughts, but are prescribed specific feelings, especially anger,  and are given specific behavioral modes of expression.  Explicitly promoted is an ideal of being a fighter, albeit with the aim of lifting self-esteem and a sense of hopefulness.  But we also learn that three of these boys later die as suicide terrorists or as fighters in hopeless battles.  Were they really prepared to make this kind of choice in their lives?   Do young children really understand words like peace and freedom and torture which they sing about so cheerfully and confidently?  Excited fantasies and play acting that involves naïve aggression replaces a reality orientation that prepares children for the serious choices they will eventually need to make.  Generational boundaries are breached when adults use children as a part of their own psychological functioning, and again this involves disruption in the mastery of essential developmental tasks.

         It is ironic that these Palestinian children’s sacrifice is likened to Samson and to the Masada suicide fighters.  Juliano Mer-Chamis, Arna’s son and the filmmaker, wrote an article called “Mazada Buried in Jenin” and he quotes amply from Flavius Josephus’ to show parallels between Jenin and Masada.  Uri Avnery lauds the film and the young men’s courage.  “But, as they say, they are determined not to surrender, to fight to the end (rather in the spirit of Samson in the Bible:  ‘Let me die with the Philistines.’)…. [5] From another point of view, the need to compare the tragic sacrifice of these Palestinian youth to the mythical destructive acts of Masada and Samson, so much a part of Israel’s inculcation of racism and enticement to violence, is something these writers ought to take the responsibility to analyze.


The application of these observations

         It is unclear how these critical observations can be helpful.  Clearly the most significant intervention would have to be changing Israel.  There is a small minority of articulate people within Israel trying to do that.  International pressure is increasing but is highly uneven as Israel retains uncritical support from the U.S., Canadian, and the EU governments. 

         On an individual level, mental health programs give people a chance to talk and to be understood.  These films indicate how easy it is to interfere with talking and listening when adults prescribe the words, feelings and modes of expression.  In neither film were children allowed to speak for themselves.  I am reminded of a song by the American child television show host, Mr. Rogers – “It all works out if you talk and you listen. ” The new peer mediation program at GCMHP seems to do just that. The psychiatric director who eliminated violence in the state prison system also listened to the most violent murderers and found that all behavior has a meaning, that talking and listening softened excruciating pain and offered alternatives to violence and self-destructiveness (Gilligan).  As we all know, there are powerful resistances to listening to the Palestinian experience and acknowledging Israel’s guilt.  In Toronto, a small Jewish lobby prevented children from listening to Israeli and Palestinian children speak for themselves – despite public outcry, the lobby pressured schools to remove from classrooms the poignant book Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak.  

         In individual clinical work it is important to identify and distinguish between inner and outer pathology in order to diminish the pressures to collude and comply with a disturbed social environment.  These films reveal specific pathologies of power and how in a state-sanctioned way adults thoughtlessly exploit youth.  In particular, helping youth understand this pathology in Israeli psychology may diminish personal feelings of humiliation and the pull to identify with the aggressor.  The GCMHP provides much support for parents – it would be helpful to hear how parents and their children talk about and understand their experiences of being humiliated.

         A woman from Germany told me that after World War II, the German school system intentionally aimed to re-educate youth so that fascism could never happen again.  Not only did they teach about the Holocaust, but children were taught about individual responsibility and they were taught to always challenge authority –that each person was responsible for evaluating what was real and what was illusory, of distinguishing right from wrong.  The lesson was so effectively learned that even after many years, my patient felt much shame about having participated with adolescent peers in bullying another child.  Usable guilt and usable shame are built on the psychological capacity to bear difficult feeling states, to accurately perceive inner and outer reality, to see all other humans as individuals. 

         The German education system is to be emulated but the challenge is immense.  Following Aristotle, people are political animals – we live together and have responsibilities to one another.  It does not make sense to claim to be “non-political.”

         In my thinking about what to do about Israel and how to support Palestinians, I feel that we need to take very seriously that Israel is a threat to world peace,  to take into account that the invasion of Gaza in 2006 was temporarily called Operation Samson and that Israel’s nuclear capability has been called its “Samson option” by the pre-eminent U.S. journalist Seymour Hersh.  We need to act with knowledge of Israel’s sickness of conscience, its violence and racism, and that this resides in the country with the world’s fourth largest military.



[1] See James Gilligan.

[2] See Freud, Interpretation of Dreams.

[3] Quoted in Susan Nathan.

[4] In the film, all the Israeli soldiers are emotionally flat.  Sociologist/ethicist Stanley Cohen writes that “on many such occasions in Israel, though – watching soldiers blow up Palestinian houses or bulldoze their olive orchards to make way for a settlement – I cannot remember seeing shame in any soldier’s face.  Even when witnesses are noticed and allowed, they can be ignored.” 

[5] Another irony, quite hypocritical, was reported by the Toronto newspaper The Globe and Mail on Nov. 1, 2008 (p. A15).  Zakariya Zubeidi, a “former militant” and former student of Arna’s children’s theatre, was just banned from working for the theatre.  “The theatre, now thriving under the direction of the original founder’s son [Juliano Mer Khamis], does not want him there for fear that he will scare off much-needed foreign donors in the theatre’s quest to expand.”  Mr. Zubeidi was in the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and was recently released from prison.  He is unemployed, married,  has two children and no employment.  “Mr. Mer Khamis, who describes Mr. Zubeidi as a ‘dear friend,’ credits him with opening conservative, religious local minds to the theatre’s benefits.  But there is no bending the ban on his presence.”




Awad, G. (2003). “The minds and perceptions of ‘the others.’ In Varvin, S. and Volkan,        V., eds. Violence or Dialogue: Psychoanalytic Insights on Terror and Terrorism.

            International Psychoanalysis Library: London.

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    english version

  version française in italiano
"THALASSA. Portolano of Psychoanalysis" is a co-production of "Penta Editions" (Dir. Cosimo Trono) and "Frenis Zero" revue (Dir. Giuseppe Leo) and it would be an attempt to link psychoanalysts and psychotherapists, belonging to the Mediterranean countries. Why would we put the Mediterranean Sea at the centre of attention of psychoanalytic culture? Because it continues keeping , in spite of a time of globalisation of human, cultural and economic exchanges, a central role of hinge between West and East, between cultural patterns dramatically faced with the contemporary problem of sharing universalizable patterns of "humanitas" and civilization. Psychoanalysis, with its group and mass-psychology functioning theories, can help in understanding the anthropological transformations concerning human societies and social institutions in the contemporary world. Our preminent interest is focused on the transformations regarding the cultural "koiné" that has been historically configured as mediterranean, and, moreover,  on the way psychoanalysis can provide interpretative means to investigate them thoroughly. Linking each other  psychoanalysts who, in spite of their different professional backgrounds, share a common belonging to the same cultural milieu, means consulting those who think about such changes from a point of view in which psychoanalysis keeps a preminent role. The means to create this link  would be the traditional ones (through international congresses and colloques), but also those provided by  internet and new communication technologies. "THALASSA. Portolano of Psychoanalysis" est une co-production de "Penta Editions" (Dir. Cosimo Trono) et de la revue "Frenis Zero" (Dir. Giuseppe Leo), née avec le but de mettre en réseau psychanalystes et psychothérapeutes provenants de Pays  Méditerranéens. Pourquoi voulons nous  mettre la Mer Méditerranéenne au centre de l'attention de la culture psychanalytique? Parce que celle-ci continue à tenir, bien que dans une époque de mondialisation des échanges humaines, culturels et économiques, un role central de charnière entre Occident et Orient, entre patterns culturels  dramatiquement confrontés avec la question toute contemporaine de partager de patterns universalisables de "humanitas" et de civilisation. La psychanalyse, avec ses theories du fonctionnement groupal et  des masses, peut nous aider à mieux comprendre les transformations anthropologiques concernantes les sociétés humaines et les institutions sociales dans le monde contemporain. Notre prééminent interet est concentré sur les transformations qui regardent cette koiné culturelle qui historiquement  s'est formée comme mediterraneenne , et sur le comment la psychanalyse peut donner des outils interpretatifs pour approfondir la connaissance de celles-ci. Mettre en liaison des psychanalystes qui, malgré les différentes traditions professionnelles de provenance, partagent l'appartenance au meme milieu méditerranéen,  veut dire interpeller ceux qui réfléchent sur tels changements à partir d'une perspective où la psychanalyse garde une place prééminente. Les moyens pou créer tel réseau seraient ceux traditionnels (séminaires et colloques internationaux), mais aussi innovateurs comme ceux-ci donnés par internet et les nouvelles technologies de communication.  "THALASSA. Portolano of Psychoanalysis" è una co-produzione di "Penta Editions" (Dir. Cosimo Trono) e della rivista "Frenis Zero" (Dir. Giuseppe Leo), nel tentativo di mettere in rete psicoanalisti e psicoterapeuti provenienti dai paesi del Mediterraneo. Perché porre il Mediterraneo al centro dell'attenzione della cultura psicoanalitica?  Perché esso continua ad avere, pur in un'epoca di globalizzazione di scambi umani, culturali ed economici,  quel ruolo centrale di cerniera tra Occidente ed Oriente, tra patterns culturali  messi drammaticamente a confronto con la  problematica contemporanea della condivisione di modelli universalizzabili di "humanitas" e di civiltà. La psicoanalisi,  con le sue teorie sul funzionamento dei gruppi e della psicologia  delle masse, può agevolare la comprensione delle trasformazioni antropologiche  che riguardano le società umane  e le istituzioni sociali nel mondo contemporaneo. Il nostro precipuo interesse è concentrato sulle trasformazioni che hanno per oggetto quella  koiné culturale che storicamente si è configurata come 'mediterranea', e su come la psicoanalisi possa fornire strumenti interpretativi per approfondire  la conoscenza di esse. Porre in collegamento tra di loro gli psicoanalisti che, pur nella diversità delle tradizioni professionali di provenienza, condividono  l'appartenenza al medesimo milieu mediterraneo, significa interpellare coloro che riflettono su tali rivolgimenti da una prospettiva in cui la psicoanalisi mantiene un ruolo preminente. Gli strumenti per creare tale rete saranno quelli tradizionali (attraverso dei seminari e dei congressi internazionali), ma anche quelli innovativi offerti da  internet e dalle nuove tecnologie di comunicazione.





A (Aberastury-Avunculo)
B-C (Babinski-Cura)
D- E (Dador de la mujer-Ey Henri)
F- G (Fachinelli Elvio-Guilbert Yvette)
H-I (Haas Ladislav-Italia)
J-M (Jackson John- Myers F.W.H.)
N- O (Naesgaard Sigurd-Otsuki K.)
P (Pacto denegativo-Putnam)






Cosimo Trono - psychanalyste, énseignant Univ. Paris XIII, directeur Editions "Penta" telecharger  le catalogue

Giuseppe Leo - psichiatra, Centro Psicoterapia Dinamica (Lecce- Italia), editor "Frenis Zero" click here

Comité scientifique/Comitato Scientifico/Scientific Board:

Abram Coen (Paris) psychiatre, chef du service secteur infanto-juvenil Paris-Nord,  directeur collection "Psychanalyse, Médecine et Societé" chez Penta Editions.

Nicole Janigro (Milano) psicoanalista junghiana, nata a Zagabria, collabora a progetti di formazione legati al tema dell’ elaborazione del conflitto, rivolti a volontari e operatori attivi sul campo nelle aree di crisi della ex Jugoslavia. Ha in corso una ricerca su sogno e guerra. 












Copyright © 2007-2008-2009 Cosimo Trono and Giuseppe Leo All Rights Reserved  : "Thalassa. Portolano of Psychoanalysis" is a co-production of "Editions Penta"(59, rue Saint-André des-Arts,, Paris VI, tel./fax: (0033)0143257761) and "Frenis Zero" revue (Ce.Psi.Di.: viale Gallipoli, 29- 73100 Lecce- Italia- tel. (0039)3386129995)