1st Edition

A Group Analytic Approach to Understanding Mass Violence The Holocaust, Group Hallucinosis and False Beliefs

By Bennett Roth Copyright 2019
    166 Pages
    by Routledge

    166 Pages
    by Routledge

    A Group Analytic Approach to Understanding Mass Violence makes an analytic examination of the enactment of genocide by Nazi Germany during World War II to explore how mass and state-sponsored violence can arise within societies and how the false beliefs that are used to justify such actions are propagated within society. Bennett Roth makes use of Bion’s concept of ‘Hallucinosis’ to describe the formation of false group beliefs that lead to murderous violence.

    Drawing on both group analysis and psychoanalysis, Roth explores in relation to genocide:

    • how people form and identify with groups
    • the role of family groups
    • how conflict can arise and be managed
    • how violence can arise and be justified by false beliefs
    • how we can best understand these dysfunctional group dynamics to avoid such violence.

    A Group Analytic Approach to Understanding Mass Violence will be of great interest to all psychoanalysts and group analysts seeking to understand the role of false beliefs in their patients and society more generally. It will also be of interest to students and scholars of Holocaust studies programs or anyone seeking to understand the perpetration of genocide in the past and present.

    Introduction Chapter 1: The problems with Freud’s Group Theory Chapter 2: The Role of Non-Kin Cooperation, Weapons that Kill at a Distance and Shared Beliefs in Group Formation Chapter 3: A New evolutionary Basis of Group Development Chapter 4: War Group Development and the Nazi Path to Violence Chapter 5: The Nazi Platform of Group Hallucinosis Chapter 6: Hallucinosis and Perversions Chapter 7: The Historical range of Mass Murder Chapter 8: Summary and the Imaginary Nation Chapter 9: Addenda; Bibliography; Appendix A: Himmler’s Speech at Poznan; Appendix B: Friedrich Jecklen; Appendix C: The Kovno Massacre; Appendix D: EinsatzGruppen


    Bennett Roth, PhD, is a Faculty member at the Department of Psychiatry, Mount Sinai Hospital and maintains a private practice in New York City, USA. He has lectured internationally on group therapy, psychoanalysis and film, and on the work of Wilfred Bion.

    "Ben Roth, a frequent contributor to the group therapy and group dynamics literature, has undertaken to explain how Hitler was able to mobilize a large segment of the German people to the mass delusion that the Jews were dangerous and had to be thoroughly exterminated. In an original and creative way he employs Bion's theory of group hallucinosis to explain how the average German became "willing executioners" in the worst form of genocide in the history of man."-Leonard Horwitz, Training and Supervising Analyst, Greater Kansas City Psychoanalytic Institute; Former Director of Group Psychotherapy, Menninger Clinic, USA

    "Drawing on a range of authors with diverse points of view, this singular and passionate contribution to the psychoanalytical study of social groupings and States sponsored mass violence, explores the formation and functions of the neglected problem of false collective belief. Entirely relevant to the understanding of our current experiences of migration, racism and terrorism, the Shoah is located in the context of the Holocaust and other genocides. Undoubtedly a valuable addition to the theory of group dynamics and the social unconscious, psychoanalysts and group analysts will also find this book to be useful in clinical work."-Earl Hopper, Ph.D., former President of the International Association for Group Psychotherapy; Editor of the New International Library of Group Analysis; psychoanalyst, group analyst and organisational consultant, private practice, London, UK