The Banalization of Antisemitism

The Verein der Freunde & Förderer der IPU e.V. and the krIPU student organization are delighted to welcome the psychoanalyst and former president of the British Psychoanalytic Society Rosine Jozef Perelberg from London. She will present a lecture on the potential of psychoanalytical concepts to understand the global explosion of antisemitism after 7 October 2023.

»One feel inclined to doubt sometimes whether the dragons of primaeval days are really extinct.«

Freud, Analysis Terminable and Interminable, 1937, p. 229

Does psychoanalysis have conceptual tools to help the understanding of the current explosion of antisemitism worldwide? How possible is it to be reflective if we are still in the moment of the trauma, with no possibility of a passage of time that would enable an après-coup to take place? Vamık Volkan (1998) has described how traumatized societies regress and employ splitting and projection: all nuance is lost. Issues and people become reduced to good or bad, friend or foe; extreme polarization sets in, which is what is being lived through today.

In this paper I first examine some of Freud’s ideas in relation to antisemitism. I then explore some of the conceptual tools that psychoanalysis has offered to the understanding of prejudice against different minorities at different moments in time. This is followed by an outline of different political groups that seem to come together, as in a perfect storm, in relation to current antisemitism. I conclude with theoretical considerations about the current phenomenon.

This lecture offers further reflections on the paper published in the IJP in 2022, and which has been translated into German:

Perelberg, R. J. (2022) The Murder of the Dead Father: The Shoah and Contemporary Antisemitism. International Journal of Psychoanalysis 103:851-871.

Perelberg, R. J. (2023) Der Mord am toten Vater: Die Shoah und der zeitgenössische Antisemitismus. Internationale Psychoanalyse 18:215-246.

Rosine Jozef Perelberg is a Distinguished Fellow, Training Analyst and past President of the British Psychoanalytic Society, Visiting Professor in the Psychoanalysis Unit at University College London and Corresponding Member of the Paris Psychoanalytical Society. Previously she undertook a PhD in Social Anthropology at the London School of Economics. She has written and edited 12 books which include Time, Space and Phantasy; Dreaming and Thinking; Freud: A Modern Reader; Murdered Father, Dead Father: Revisiting the Oedipus Complex and Sexuality, Excess and Representation all published by Routledge and the New Library of Psychoanalysis. Psychic Bisexuality has won the 2019 American Board & Academy of Psychoanalysis Book Prize for Best Edited Book. Rosine is the recipient of the 2023 Sigourney Award that honours outstanding psychoanalytic work worldwide. She was recently appointed to the International Psychoanalytical Association as the European Region Representative of The Community and the World Committee on Prejudice, Discrimination and Racism.

The lecture as part of the lecture series »das ganze Grauen« - Psychoanalytische Aufklärung nach dem 7. Oktober is organized by the initiative krIPU and funded by the StuRa and the IPU Sponsors and Fundraisers Association.

The krIPU is an initiative of IPU Berlin students that meets regularly and organizes events to discuss the possibilities and limits of socially critical and political psychoanalysis, its manageable history and its uncertain future. Interested parties are invited to get in touch.

Funded by the StuRa and the Freunde und Förderer der IPU Berlin e. V.

When und Where?

Tuesday, 28.5.2024 at 8 p.m.

Stromstr. 2, 10555 Berlin, Lecture hall 1