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Summary: Psychoanalysis & Peacemaking in Traumatized Societies

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In this speech, Montville speaks fondly of Freud’s theories of psychodynamics, and how psychoanalysis as instrument in research can be applied to ethnic, sectarian and large group conflict. He begins with a recollection of the psychology of enmity, and the need for enemies.

Moving onto the topic of narcissistic rage, he says the instinctual reaction is that of vigorous defense of the self. Montville then describes this concept in terms of Israel’s displaced rage on Arabs and Muslims. This rage was initially earned by the Jewish experience in Christian Europe through the centuries.

Continuing on the topic thread of rage, Montville says dealing with victims of violent trauma, the aim should be for them to get a grasp what happened to them. You do this by cognitively explaining how the attack happened, that the victim’s story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Lastly, the victim should be assured they are safe now, that nightmares, dissociative experiences, and panic attacks are no longer necessary, because the story had an end. Montville suggests using such cognitive therapeutic approaches to convince Jews that Christians can understand the burden of history and the enormity of their debt.

He concludes that “the work of diplomacy that is psychologically and psychoanalytically informed requires study of sacred literature and the history of human relationships.”