chapter  8
24 Pages

Unwilling to Admit, Unable to See: Therapeutic Experiences with the National Socialist "Complex"

From our present historical standpoint in Germany, concrete biographical reality, comprising in turn both individual and collective history, includes the relationship to National Socialism (hereafter, Nazism). Even the youngest therapists among us were brought up by an elder generation which spent a long slice of life in one of the most inhumane reigns of terror ever known. Granted, the oldest among our elders were still young at that time; nevertheless, they shared and bore the experiences of the time. Now as therapists, dealing professionally with those often unconscious powers from the past which affect the present, we cannot do this work cut adrift from our own consciousness and our own knowledge. After all, it is precisely values and norms which emerge from a particular common background; this background can itself undergo vivid changes and emerge differently, not only among the generations but also among different social or educational classes. In the course of arguments, corresponding misunderstandings can thus arise. Above all, our unconscious values and beliefs can cause us to reduce political, economic, or social conflicts simply to their individual significance. Massing and Beushausen (1986) even go so far as to defend the thesis that when working with the Nazi complex, 1 the person of the therapist comes into the foreground more prominently than usual. They relate this in part to the insufficient working through of the past by their own professional group, but also to the individual countertransference feelings of disbelief and denial.