Bloodlines: From Ethnic Pride to Ethnic Terrorism
by Vamık Volkan
New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997. 280 pp. $24.
Reviewed by Marvin Zonis
Middle East Quarterly
Volkan may be the most prolific and peripatetic student of the psychological causes of conflict; in Bloodlines he pursues his effort to apply psychoanalytic concepts and methods to understand painful ethnic conflicts and find ways to resolve them short of violence.
He gives a précis of the psychological bases of conflicts that beset the newly independent states of the former USSR and Eastern Europe then tells about the seemingly fatal embrace of Israelis and Palestinians and the childhood experiences that lead to adult terrorism. (He doesn't suggest it, but on the basis of his work, it appears that Israel is laying the psychological ground work for generations of hateful and undoubtedly violent Palestinians.) Volkan deals with a number of Middle Eastern issues, including how Egyptians were able to play it differently from their fellow Arabs with the Israelis; how Greeks and the Turks act out their long-standing issues in Cyprus; and what the leader of the PKK, a terrorist Turkish Kurdish group, thinks he is up to and what in his youth led him to his commitments.
Looking at these topics of immense current significance through a psychoanalytic framework, Volkan places special emphasis on the concept of mourning and the need to revisit the past in in-depth psychological terms to bury it. He tells us how childhood humiliations and later externalizations drive many of the tensions about which he has become so expert. Volkan's work and that of other psychoanalytically-based investigators can serve as the basis for a more insightful and effective U.S. foreign policy. But this particular book, like the conflicts examined he!re, is very much a work in progress.
Related Topics: Terrorism | Marvin Zonis | December 1997 MEQ
receive the latest by email: subscribe to the free mef mailing list
This text may be reposted or forwarded so long as it is presented as an integral whole with complete and accurate information provided about its author, date, place of publication, and original URL.