About the Book

For more than thirty years, renowned psychoanalyst Vamik D. Volkan has applied the theories of his profession to societies in conflict, venturing into cauldrons of unrest as observer, mediator, and practitioner. In this volume, he shares his experiences facilitating dialogue between opposing enemy groups, in numerous contexts and conflict zones, and presents the pioneering theoretical and practical frameworks he developed. In the process, he provides a unique window onto watershed moments of the recent past—from major historical events, such as the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall, to the tragedy of September 11, 2001, and continued violence in the Middle East. The findings and observations presented in this volume provide not only a new way of looking at recent historical events, but also offer a novel set of tools for understanding and shaping the present and future.

About the Author

Vamık D. Volkan is an emeritus professor of psychiatry at the University of Virginia. He is widely considered to be the world's foremost expert on the psychology of war-torn societies.

“Reading this book is like sitting on the shoulders of one of the great explorers of the past as he charts out new territory. With Vamık Volkan, psychoanalysis ventures off the couch into the challenging world of terrorism and violent political conflict, engaging with key actors around the world and unearthing some extraordinary insights along the way. His remarkable mind and personality take you on a journey that will change your perspective of international affairs.” 

—Lord John Alderdice, FRCPsych, Convenor of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party, House of Lords, London

“Vamık Volkan, the world's foremost expert on traumatized societies, developed many of the concepts that are the key to understanding protracted ethnoreligious conflicts. In this captivating memoir, he takes the reader on a tour through a world of war, at the same time teaching his readers about the impact of large-group regression and chosen traumas. He is the rare psychoanalyst who ventures out of the office into the wider world.”

—Jessica Stern, author of Terror in the Name of God and former member of President Bill Clinton's National Security Council staff

“Why do intelligent, rational people reject the rational approach to peacemaking in this age of national, ethnic, and religious conflict? Vamık Volkan has answers about the psychological barriers to peacefully resolving intractable conflicts. These are not untested theories; he has worked hard to create dialogue and foster successful negotiations for multiple crises. This valuable book charts a new psychologically informed path for peacemaking. It's filled with surprising insights.”

—Ford Rowan, former NBC National Security Affairs correspondent


ISBN: 978-1939578037 (hardcover)

SRP: $29.95 (hardcover)

Page count: 504 pages

Trim size: 6 x 9

Pub date: August 2013

Ebook availability: Yes

Preface. Acknowledgments. Sadat at the Knesset: The Other Walls. Mental Health Professionals at the Table: Ethical Challenges. Meeting the Enemy: Acknowledging Anxiety. Is it Possible for an Israeli to be Afraid? On Not Hearing the Other. A Visit to “Mont Freud”: The Echo and Accordion Phenomena. President Sadat’s Assassination: To Grieve or Not to Grieve? The Mountain House Meeting: The Inevitability of “Miniconflicts.”Palestinian Stones: The Significance of Large-Group Identity. The Development of Large-Group Identity: The Psychology of “Synthetic Nations.” Individuals’ Responses to Losses: Linking Objects and Linking Phenomena. The Israeli Withdrawal from Ophira: A Community’s Mourning. Palestinians in Tunisia: Living Symbols. Under the Shadow of Monticello: From Fieldwork to Theory. The Virgin Mary and Jesus Return to Moscow: The Psychological Effects of Totalitarianism.The End of the Soviet Union: The Age of Ethnicity and the Psychology of Purification. The Berlin Wall Falls: The Psychology of Borders, Modern Globalization and Minor Differences. More Lessons on Large-Group Identity: Trauma, Large-Group Mourning, Entitlement Ideologies, and Time Collapse. The Kaunas Meeting: The Need for the Official in Unofficial. The Riga Meeting: The Role of Purification Rituals. The Carter Center: The Limitations of Logic. The “Tree Model” in Estonia: Psychopolitical Assessment and Dialogue. Extending the Tree Branches in Estonia: The Need for a Vaccination Process. Torturers and the Tortured in Romania and Albania: Societal Splits. Loose Screws that Hinder Societal Well-Being: The Return of Historical Memory. The Invasion of Kuwait: Trauma and Cultural Customs. The Georgian–South Ossetian Conflict: Helping the Helpers. Political Propaganda and Malignant Purification. Serbia and the Balkans: Reactivation of a Chosen Trauma. The Immigrant Experience, Integration, and Racism. Returning to the Mountain House: An Expanding Field. Killing in the Name of Identity: The Psychology of Terrorists. Terror at Waco: The Psychology of Cults. “Muslim Rage”: Another Look at Terrorism and Suicide Bombers. Ground Zero: How I Became a “Muslim.” On Faith: The Psychology of Religion. Watching Europe from Vienna: The Linking of Symbolic Events. The “Hijacking” of Religion and Women’s Rights in Turkey: On Becoming a Societal Transference Figure. A Return to Northern Cyprus: The Presence of Invisible Walls. Turkey’s Grand Dome: The “Kurdish Issue” in Turkey. The International Dialogue Initiative. Notes. Bibliography. Name Index. Subject Index. About the Author.