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Fundamentalism and the Delusional Creation of an Enemy

  • Karl Figlio
Chapter
Part of the Studies in the Psychosocial book series (STIP)

Abstract

Fundamentalism is typically characterised by an absolute stance, based on a simplification and homogenisation of beliefs, a strident rejection of evidence that does not support these beliefs, a literalism in the understanding of texts taken to be sacred (whether religious or not) and the branding of others as enemies if they do not adhere to the same beliefs. One major consequence of this absolutist mentality is the rapid move to action, which can be physical or verbal and otherwise demonstrative. In any event, actions assault others who oppose the fundamentalist. These opponents are to be punished and forced to confirm to the absolutism of the fundamentalists, who press any wavering in their own positions into the (now) enemy by projective identification. This chapter takes up an additional, elemental current beneath these features of fundamentalism. It argues that a distortion of reality sets the scene for the creation of an enemy against which action is taken with a kind of logical necessity; indeed, the action is part of this creation. This tight, ‘rational’ connection between belief and action makes it difficult to understand fundamentalist motivation, to enter into dialogue with it and to achieve any reconciliation. It is appropriate to call it delusional. Drawing this common theme from two very different cases – an attack on the home of a paediatrician and Nazi-informed antisemitism – supports this thesis.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic StudiesUniversity of EssexColchesterUK

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