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The Hero and His Shadow
Psychopolitical Aspects of Myth and Reality in Israel
Now: Revised 2012 Edition (Jan 1, 2012)
Publisher’s Description
The Hero and His Shadow introduces a psychological perspective on the history, development and myths of modern Israel.
The realization of Zionism relied on the pioneer, who revolted against the Way of the Fathers and sought spiritual redemption through the revival of Mother Earth in the ancient land. Myth and history, psyche and matter are constantly intertwined in the birth and development of Israel, for example when in the Declaration of Independence we are told that pioneers make deserts bloom, the text actually says they make spirits blossom.
Pioneer, guardsman and then warrior were admired hero-ideals. However, in the shadow of the hero and the guiding myths of revolt, redemption, strength and identity-change, there were feelings of despair, doubt, weakness and fear. Where there has been renewal, lurks the threat of annihilation.
The suppressed aspects of past and present myths, which linger in the shadow, are exposed. The psychological consequences of Israel’s wars, from independence to the present war of terror, are explored both on a personal note and from a psychoanalytic perspective, with social examples and clinical vignettes.
Shadow aspects of the conflicting guiding myths of Peace and Greater Israel, respectively, are examined. The mythological background of the archetypal struggle between Isaac and Ishmael, and the relationship between Jerusalem and the archetypal images of Wholeness and Satan are looked into.


The Hero and His Shadow
Psychopolitical Aspects of Myth and Reality in Israel
The Beggar in the Hero’s Shadow
A Return to the Source
From My Notebook
From Dream to Reality
Origins and Myths
From Redemption to Shadow
Wholeness Apart
Myth, Shadow and Projection
A Crack in the Mask
The Death of the Mythical and the Voice of the Soul
Bibliography
Index


The Hero and His Shadow
Psychopolitical Aspects of Myth and Reality in Israel
This ever-timely and powerful book seeks to delineate a psychological view of the collective processes that underlie the creation and development of the State of Israel and the relationship between the individual and collective processes up to the present time. Erel Shalit argues that Zionism is a myth of redemption that became a reality and is reinforced by the fear of annihilation and supported by the willingness of the individual to merge with the Grand Idea. Though this merging was necessary for the fulfilment of Zionism and the birth of a new nation there remains a 'close proximity' (his term for a form of identification) between the individual, the collective and the mythic. Shalit analyses the various elements of the myths relating to Zionism - that of redemption (requiring splitting off weakness), revolt (against the merely spiritual Father) and identity change (introducing a new myth for the Jewish people, exchanging weakness for strength) - and the shadow of these myths. Shalit explores these phenomena with reference to Erikson, Fromm and, in particular, Neumann's theories regarding the emergence of the ego from the primal relationship. He discusses the consequences of the 'close proximity' between individual and collective and the possibility of a 'de-narcisstification' (dis-identification) coming about in the form of the death of the mythical and the emergence of the voice of the soul. Erel Shalit is a training and supervising analyst at the Israel Society of Analytical Psychology.
West, Marcus, Journal of Analytical Psychology 50 (2), 259-263.
This powerfully written book brings together the political and the psychological. Focusing on the development of Israel in myth and reality, the author weaves an interlocking problematic between the collective mythology of the development of Zionism in Israel and the psychological impact of this collective mythology upon the individual psychologies of its citizens.
Shalit provides the reader, through an understanding of the impact of collective processes, an articulation of the relationship between society and the individual. He argues convincingly that the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, arose out of a redemptive mythology, whose archetypal force was harnessed by Theodore Herzl.
This redemptive vision set the scene for the denial of vulnerability within the fabric of the state and has perforce propelled successive governments hurtling towards a union of narcissism and aggressive alienation.
As an expression of healing Shalit leads us to the notion of soul as the instrument through which analysis may do its work.
Journal of Analytical Psychology, Vol. 45, No. 4, October 2000:
“An outstanding psychological study of one of the world’s most complicated and fraught political situations.” Andrew Samuels, The Political Psyche
A very interesting disquisition on the positive and negative sides of various individual and collective ideas that constitute the guiding myths of Zionism and modern Israel. International Bulletin of Political Psychology vol. 8, 2000.

Shalit adds to the scant but growing number of studies applying psychological methodologies to historical and political studies and provides a different approach to the study of Israeli society."— Religious Studies Review
"This is an interesting and important book..."—Dr. Yossi Beilin, Former Minister of Justice, Government of Israel

This is a fascinating book. Shalit’s thesis is that when we examine the psychology of Zionism, we find two parallel but opposing trends. On the one hand, we see the hero, the warrior, the pioneer, the fearless man of doing.
On the other hand, we see the shadow, the dark side, the Diaspora-side, the weak and fearful. We came here with our shadow. You see this dichotomy between the internal feeling of strength and forcefulness, and on the other hand a terrible fear.
In order to properly understand Israeli society and the sometimes strange responses in certain political circumstances, we need to understand this terrible fear that is hidden within us.
Prof. Yoram Yovell, author and psychoanalyst.
© Dr. Erel Shalit
Thursday, April 17, 2014