Volkan is a professor of psychiatry at the University of Virginia, where he runs the Center for the Study of Mind and Human Interaction. He turns this specialization into a unique perspective for explaining what leads people of one ethnic group to hate those in another, and then to translate that hate into harm. Aside from the awful and predictable case of Bosnia, he roams from Arab-Israeli enmity to Hungarian-Rumanian frictions, from the Greek-Turkish standoff to the psychology of a Kurdish terrorist leader. A Freudian, he develops striking and surprising associations deep at the root of feeling and action, reminiscent of Civilization and Its Discontents. His aim, however, is not merely to expose the psychological wellsprings of the problem, but to show how, when armed with this knowledge, the efforts of mediators from the outside can be made more effective. If one accepts the validity of generalizing from the individual cases on which he builds the analysis, the book provides an interesting and often arresting alternative to the growing mountain of treatises on nationalism and ethnicity produced by political scientists and sociologists.
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