Bloodlines: From Ethnic Pride to Ethnic Terrorism

Vamik D. Volkan, Author, Clive Sinclair, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $25 (191p) ISBN 978-0-374-11449-7
From Rwanda to the former Yugoslavia, scenes of ethnic cleansing and carnage have become frequent. For the past 50 years, experts in fields from biology to politics have proposed reasons for ethnic tensions and power imbalances, attributing these waves of aggression to everything from economics to brainwashing. Volkan, founder of the Center for the Study of Mind and Human Interaction at the University of Virginia, proposes a psychological basis for the bloodshed that involves externalization, oedipal conflict, chosen traumas and identity formation. He places countries onto his therapy couch and attempts to probe the reasons for their dysfunctional behavior. Despite good intentions, it frequently seems he's trying to fit the behavior to the theory. The author is exceptional at clarifying chronological history and simplifying complex psychological thought. When the two fields meet, however, the result is sometimes edifying but occasionally tenuous--e.g., to diagnose Sultan Mehmet as having ""oedipal strivings"" that caused the defeat of Emperor Constantine in the mid-1400s seems forced. After exploring the origins of conflict in the Middle East, Turkey, Greece, Cyprus and Russia, this work reveals its main strength as the explication of history rather than the psychoanalysis of ethnic groups. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 978-0-374-11447-3
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-8133-9038-3
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