The Anatomy of Prejudices: ,

Elisabeth Young-Bruehl, Author Harvard University Press $35 (640p) ISBN 978-0-674-03190-6
Rejecting the common assumption that prejudice is a generalized attitude, this dense psychoanalytic study asserts that different prejudices fulfill different needs for various character types. Anti-Semitism, racism and sexism--three ""ideologies of desire,"" or backlashes against movements for equality--all involve stereotypes, projection and faulty generalization, declares psychotherapist Young-Bruehl, biographer of Anna Freud and Hannah Arendt. But the similarities end there, she argues. She links anti-Semitism to the obsessional personality, given to fixed ideas and to sadistic behavior. Racism, in her framework, exemplifies the hysterical character, who unconsciously appoints a group to act out forbidden sexual and aggressive desires. Sexism, a prejudice of the (usually male) narcissistic personality, betrays a desire to control the differences between males and females. Young-Bruehl also probes the roots of homophobia, calling gays and lesbians ""all-purpose victims"" who fulfill the twisted needs of various prejudiced character types, and she also addresses ethnocentrism, calling it a universal form of prejudice that protects group identity. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1996
Release date: 04/01/1996
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