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To read the complete paper, "Analysis of Metaphor: Methodology for the Psychological Interpretation of Culture," click here.
Ideology and Metaphor
Richard A. Koenigsberg
Dr. Koenigsberg developed his method and theory analyzing Hitler and Nazism. Recent political events provide an opportunity to apply and test his ideas. Facebook has been the site of animated discussions. To follow (and perhaps contribute to) these discussions, please connect with Richard Koenigsberg on Facebook.
Hitler's Ideology Hitler's Ideology

by Richard Koenigsberg

Presents an ingenious technique for identifying the psychological origins of political and social events.” —The Village Voice

“The best critical analysis in English of Hitler's thought.” —Colin Day

“Koenigsberg's genius has unlocked the secrets of a timeless drama.” —Journal of Psychoanalytic Anthropology

I. Ideology and Metaphor

Political ideas articulate psychological meanings. How to decipher the latent content of political texts? My method, analyzing metaphor, identifies recurring images and figures of speech in the rhetoric of political figures to reveal phantasies that the political ideology seeks to express.

An ideology is comparable to a dream—that many people are having at once. The psychological study of ideology focuses—not on the idiosyncrasies of individuals—but upon how shared desires, anxieties and conflicts give rise to collective representations.

My method grows out of research on Nazism, which began with Hitler’s Ideology (1975). Identifying recurring images and metaphors in Hitler’s rhetoric, I conclude that Nazi ideology externalized a coherent phantasy: the German body politic was suffering from a potentially fatal disease.

The Final Solution grew out of Hitler’s perception of reality. Hitler and the Nazis sought to destroy Jews—imagined to be the source of Germany’s disease—in order to prevent the death of the body politic. Hitler was able to convey this phantasy to his closest colleagues, and eventually to the German people. A sufficient number of Germans embraced and enacted this phantasy—the source of the history the Nazis created.

II. Embodiment

Phantasy refers to an intermediate mental state between body and mind. Impulses and desires give rise to mental corollaries. Thomas Ogden states that phantasy “never loses its connection to the body.” Phantasy content is traceable to thoughts and feelings about the “workings and contents of one’s own body in relationship to the workings and contents of the body of the other.”

If ideologies articulate phantasies and phantasies derive from the body, it follows that ideologies are bound to—not separate from—our bodies. How may we understand the relationship between body, phantasy and mental operations in the case of ideology? Textual metaphors, I suggest, convey the presence of the body and allow phantasies about the body to enter social reality.

By virtue of embodied metaphors, the body with its phantasies makes its way into discourse. As dreams reveal the unconscious phantasies of individuals, so ideologies reveal phantasies shared by members of a group. To analyze an ideology is to interpret a collective dream.