In this discussion, I would like to complement Perlitz’s argument by reminding that mutual imbeddedness requires conditions of existential security. Most traumas the author mentions occurred in the past. Thus, to process trauma and experience mutual imbeddedness a “background of safety” is needed. Only this enables the work of mourning, peace-making, and connection to other people. Many communities throughout the world, however, exist under extremely threatening conditions. Hence, I propose that mutual imbeddedness requires a complementary human capacity, which is equally vital, and expresses itself in conditions of existential threat or in a reality of protracted violence. This force is characterized by persecutory anxiety and the massive use of the mechanism of splitting, which issues in defense of the self using removing the adversary, using fight or flight. During times of protracted threat, people organize to defend themselves, their families, and their communities, and they will use any means to safeguard their existence. For this purpose, they activate a specific psychic dynamic: Trust is replaced by fear, enriching otherness now becomes dangerous otherness, open borders turn into high, impermeable walls, and where there was generosity, now there is cruelty. I want to offer two illustrations of the collapse of mutual imbeddedness in conditions of physical danger and existential threat: One is Israel’s political situation, and the other is the impact of the Covid pandemic on the fabric of human relations.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2021 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.
- Klein theory
- stranger anxiety