PSYCHOLOGICAL INTERPRETATION OF IDEOLOGY AND DISCOURSE Richard A. Koenigsberg WHY DO SOME DISCOURSES BECOME DOMINANT? Reality is socially constructed, but constructed based on what? People continually construct various forms of reality, but only a very few take hold and become structures of society. Is it possible to explain why some discourses become dominant and not others? Writing about the Holocaust, Hannah Arendt claims that anti-Semitism "explains everything and therefore nothing." One may suggest that concepts like "discourse" and "narrative" similarly explain everything and therefore nothing. What requires explanation is why certain discourses or narratives become salient and significant. To comprehend the meaning of an ideology, we pose the question: "Why does it exist?" My studies on Nazi ideology (see, for example, IDEOLOGY, <http://www.ideologiesofwar.com/docs/Frk_ipg.htm> PERCEPTION AND GENOCIDE: How Fantasy Generates History) begin by identifying recurring images and metaphors in the rhetoric of political leaders such as Hitler, Himmler and Goebbels in order to ascertain the ideology's underlying meaning. Hitler conceived of the German nation as a living organism invaded by Jewish bacteria. Genocide enacted an immunological fantasy: killing the pathogenic microorganisms in order to prevent the death of Germany. _____ Please send comments or commentaries via email to Orion Anderson at oanderson@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx or call (718) 393-1081 _____ IDEOLOGY AS SHARED FANTASY Hitler's ideology derived from a coherent fantasy projected into reality. Nazi ideology was articulated through the vehicle of language, but language was not the source of Nazi ideology. Nazi ideology was constituted by a shared fantasy projected into the external world. Ideologies represent symbolic structures functioning to contain and shape primal desires, anxieties, and conflicts. Ideologies are cognitive structures that permit unconscious fantasies to become shared--and articulated as social reality. Ideologies or discourses become established as elements of culture to the extent that they represent unique "solutions" to fundamental psychic dilemmas. An ideology that is significant in society is one that has served as the modus operandi for the expression of powerful desires, conflicts and fantasies. Ideologies capture energy bound to latent fantasies, bringing forth this energy into society as the basis for collective forms of action. _____ Read the online publication: WHY <http://www.psych-culture.com/docs/rk-whydo.html> DO IDEOLOGIES EXIST: The Psychological Function of Culture _____ THE UNCONSCIOUS CONTAINED WITHIN THE TEXT An ideology is conveyed through rhetoric presented by political and social leaders--people on the public stage who have embraced the ideology and seek to persuade others of its validity. We uncover the roots of ideologies by analyzing the writings and speeches of leaders who have been instrumental in bringing forth their ideologies into reality. Identification of recurring images, metaphors and figures of speech reveals the unconscious contained within the text. Once we understand the meaning of a discourse or ideology--what it seeks to express or convey--we are on our way toward explanation. Explanation consists of revealing the psychological functions that the discourse or ideology performs for members of a given society. By asking the question, "What does this ideology or discourse do (psychologically) for people?" we pose the question: "Why does this ideology exist?" _____ Richard Koenigsberg is an author, lecturer and teacher focusing on the roots of collective forms of violence. He received his Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research. He is a Faculty Member of the Institute for the Study of Violence at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. New editions of his books--Hitler's Ideology: Embodied Metaphor, Fantasy and History and The Nation: A Study in Ideology and Fantasy--recently have been released by Information Age Publishing.