A1 Journal article (refereed)
The Phantasmatic Core of Fascism : Psychoanalytic Theories of Antisemitism and Group Aggression Amongst the ‘Political Freudians’ (2022)

Zolkos, M. (2022). The Phantasmatic Core of Fascism : Psychoanalytic Theories of Antisemitism and Group Aggression Amongst the ‘Political Freudians’. Redescriptions, 25(1), 49-64. https://doi.org/10.33134/rds.367

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editorsZolkos, Magdalena

Journal or seriesRedescriptions



Publication year2022


Issue number1

Pages range49-64

PublisherHelsinki University Press

Publication countryFinland

Publication languageEnglish


Publication open accessOpenly available

Publication channel open access

Publication is parallel published (JYX)https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/82564


The period predating and overlapping with World War II saw psychoanalytic authors respond to the authoritarian and fascist developments in Europe through scholarly and analytical writings. These authors, sometimes referenced as ‘political Freudians’, were interested in bringing psychoanalysis in a dialogue with progressive social and pedagogical movements of their times, focusing their critique on the persecutory, eliminatory and purificatory fantasies, which they saw as animating the fascistic movements in Europe. This article analyses selected texts by Otto Fenichel, Ernst Simmel and Rudolf Loewenstein and argues that these authors asked about the political and ethical stakes of the fascist constructions of its ideal subject; one that was armoured against the threats of dispossession perpetuated by racialized minorities. In different ways, these thinkers showed that projection, paranoia, scapegoating and ego-regression became operative as group phenomena at that historical moment. By engaging with these texts, it becomes possible to not only understand better the history of how the critical psychoanalytic theorising developed at the backdrop of war-time European history, but also to consider the contribution that concepts of desire, irrationality, fantasy and affect make to the studies of fascism, historically, and perhaps today.

Keywordsanti-Semitismfascismwartimepsychoanalytic theoriespsychoanalytic literary criticismpsychoanalysisbecoming awareunconscious mindpolitical thoughtviolence (activity)literatureliterary research

Free keywordspsychoanalytic theory of fascism; German fascism; antisemitism; the social unconscious; Fenichel, Otto; Simmel, Ernst; Loewenstein, Rudolf ; Freud, Sigmund

Contributing organizations

Ministry reportingYes

Reporting Year2022

JUFO rating1

Last updated on 2024-03-04 at 19:17