May Author of the Month: Luigi Zoja

Luigi Zoja, author of Paranoia: The madness that makes history, is our Routledge Mental Health Author of the Month for May! Read our exclusive interview and learn more about his fantastic new book!

"Paranoia is somehow an archetypal necessity. A certain amount of mis-trust is unavoidable: we cannot trust everybody. But, deep down, it also corresponds to our relationship with evil."

I was living in New York when the Twin Towers were attacked. The terrorists’ paranoia was not new; one could read Bin Laden’s proclamations online. What struck me was September 12, 13 etc: lots of rumors going around, mostly not reported in the media. Fear activated a regression to oral civilization and mistrust of official truths.

That, unlike other mental illnesses, paranoia has a collective dimension. In Jung’s terms, it is highly contagious. It tends to identify an “evil” (the Jews in Hitler’s theory, for example), producing scapegoat rituals. Its assumptions are never demonstrated but pretend to explain everything. Mass media can then contribute to spreading these psychic infections. 

Paranoia is somehow an archetypal necessity. A certain amount of mis-trust is unavoidable: we cannot trust everybody. But, deep down, it also corresponds to our relationship with evil. Yet the “extreme” paranoid deals with it basically through splitting and projection: they do not conceive the possibility that evil can be in their own psyche. They are anti-psychological.

Once seen as an archetype, a mental problem leaves the field of psychopathology and concerns us all. Usually, a pathology limits your success in life. Paranoid messages can, on the contrary, assure the success of politicians, a very visible fact today. Paranoia has played a role in the onset of the two World Wars, in racist and colonial wars, in McCarthyism. Most of all, it is activated in non-symmetrical confrontations: the wolf will always find a reason to scapegoat the lamb and eat it.

A book on the iconic photos of the XX Century. The advent of photography elicited the hope that the public will finally get “real” images. Yet most of the defining, heroic photos have been staged. It deals with collective imagination and the role of the media. This study is connected with Paranoia.

Luigi Zoja, Jungian analyst and writer, graduate and teacher at the C.G. Jung Institute, Zurich.

In private practice in Italy.

President of the IAAP (International Association of Analytical Psychology) 1998 - 2001.

In recent years he has traveled annually to China and Argentina to foster the growth of analytic associations in both countries.

His twelve books have appeared in fifteen languages.

Paranoia

Upcoming Events

Luigi Zoja will be speaking about his new book in the US and Canada in May. Don't miss this unique opportunity to meet the author and learn more about this fascinating topic. Check out the list of events, and register for an event near you!