After experiencing September 11 in New York, I started studying paranoia as a collective phenomenon. Among mental illness, only paranoia can literally make history, as it did through Hitler and Stalin. Paranoia can take hold of events directly because, unlike the rest of psychopathology, it is contagious. Its dynamics can be self-replicating, devouring entire societies. A leader can foster paranoia, but then lose control of the phenomenon. Once infected, the collective madness acquires an autonomous life. Its basic archetypal pattern consists on finding scapegoats and projecting all personal or collective shadow contents on to it. As such it tends to repeat itself in very different epochs and countries.
Masquerading behind false logic, paranoia is fatally attractive, far more seductive than any political, religious, or ideological discourse, and looks for victims. Paranoia relied on “spokesmen” but with modern mass communication and simplification, it can easily be multiplied at low cost, endowing collective aggressiveness with an amplifying self-feeding power. My talk looks at the use and misuse of paranoia throughout Western history from Ajax to Trump. I reflect upon paranoia through psychopathology, history and literature to better understand its power over the individual and society. Through a combination of circumstances, leaders, history and the power of social media this task is very timely and necessary
.In collaboration with the Society of Analytical Psychology.
Chair: Martin Schmidt
This event will be held in English.
Luigi Zoja, PhD, is a training analyst at the C.G. Jung Institut – Zurich, past president of the International Association of Analytical Psychology and former lecturer at the Universities of Palermo and Insubria (Italy) and at the University of Macao. Visiting professor at Beijing Normal University, he has a private practice in Milan, having previously worked in New York. He has published several books including Ethics and Analysis (A&M Texas University Press, 2007; Gradiva Award 2008); Violence in History, Culture and the Psyche (Spring, 2009); Paranoia. The Madness that Makes History (Routledge, 2017). Many have been translated into other languages