The Hero and His Shadow

Psychopolitical Aspects of Myth and Reality in Israel


The Hero and His Shadow introduces a psychological perspective on the history, development and myths of modern Israel.

The realization of Zionism relied on the pioneer, who revolted against the Way of the Fathers and sought spiritual redemption through the revival of Mother Earth in the ancient land. Myth and history, psyche and matter are constantly intertwined in the birth and development of Israel, for example when in the Declaration of Independence we are told that pioneers make deserts bloom, the text actually says they make spirits blossom.

Pioneer, guardsman and then warrior were admired hero-ideals. However, in the shadow of the hero and the guiding myths of revolt, redemption, strength and identity-change, there were feelings of despair, doubt, weakness and fear. Where there has been renewal, lurks the threat of annihilation.

The suppressed aspects of past and present myths, which linger in the shadow, are exposed. The psychological consequences of Israel’s wars, from independence to the present war of terror, are explored both on a personal note and from a psychoanalytic perspective, with social examples and clinical vignettes.

Shadow aspects of the conflicting guiding myths of Peace and Greater Israel, respectively, are examined. The mythological background of the archetypal struggle between Isaac and Ishmael, and the relationship between Jerusalem and the archetypal images of Wholeness and Satan are looked into.