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The Human Body Becomes a Body Politic, Chapter I:
Political Reality is a Projected Fantasy

One doesn’t need to “psychoanalyze” political figures to grasp where they are coming from. They reveal themselves through the words they use: the images and metaphors contained within their rhetoric. Political leaders project their desires and fantasies into the external world. Political reality is a projected fantasy.

Political leaders project their bodies into reality. Their own bodies become the body politic. Hitler believed that Germany was disintegrating: he was disintegrating. Donald Trump thinks Americans need a wall against alien invaders. He fears bodily penetration. The mind is not separate from the body. The Frenchmen were in a flight from the body—into the symbolic order.

The symbolic order never loses its connection to our organic being: the human body becomes a body politic.

Best regards,
Richard Koenigsberg, PhD
Director, Library of Social Science

Analysis of Metaphor: The Psychological Interpretation of Culture
by Richard A. Koenigsberg

I. Ideology and Metaphor

Ideologies contain and articulate psychological meanings. How may we decipher the latent content of ideological texts? My method consists of identifying recurring images and figures of speech in the writings and speeches of individuals who have been significant in promulgating an ideology.

An ideology structures and externalizes fantasies shared by a group—and may be compared to a dream that many people are having at once. A psychological approach to culture focuses—not on the idiosyncrasies of individuals—but upon how shared desires, fantasies, anxieties and conflicts give rise to collective representations.
The Body in the Mind: The Bodily Basis of Meaning, Imagination, and Reason

by Mark Johnson

One of the most careful, cogent and thorough expositions of embodied philosophy and cognitive linguistics.

Mark Johnson is the Knight Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Oregon.

II. Conceptual Metaphors

In The Body in the Mind: The Bodily Basis of Meaning, Imagination, and Reason (1990), Mark Johnson writes about “imaginative projection,” a principle whereby the body (i.e., physical experience and its structures) works its way up into the mind (i.e., mental operations). Johnson states that metaphors are not simply “figures of speech,” rather constitute “pervasive, indispensable structures of understanding by means of which we comprehend our world.”

Hitler’s worldview grew out of his belief that Germany was an actual body—and Jews pathogenic organisms whose presence within the German body politic threatened to destroy the nation.

Hitler’s experience of the Jew generated his perception of reality. It is as if this idea—“the Jew”—was present within Hitler’s body. The Jewish “disease within the body politic” was a disease within Hitler’s body.

Hitler’s rhetoric demonstrates how a source domain (the human body) becomes mapped onto a target domain (the body politic). Hitler’s metaphors played a cognitive function. Because Hitler projected the idea of a human body into the body politic, therefore he inferred that Germany was suffering from a disease requiring diagnosis and cure.

III. Fantasy and the Embodied Mind

Thomas Ogden states that fantasy “never loses its connection to the body.” Fantasy 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 fantasies and fantasies derive from the body, it follows that ideologies are bound to—not separate from—our bodies. How may we understand the relationship between body, fantasy and mental operations? Textual metaphors, I suggest, convey the presence of the body—and allow fantasies about the body to enter social reality.

Nazi ideology represented a fantasy about Germany as an organism suffering from a potentially fatal disease. This fantasy about the body was conveyed through the vehicle of images and metaphors that appear endlessly in ideological texts that the Nazis produced. The Nazis created culture and history based on a fantasy about the body projected into their ideology.

IV.The Human Body and the Body Politic

The reality that the Nazis constructed cannot be separated from bodily fantasy. If ideas about a target domain are derived from experiences in a source domain, it follows that ideas about bodies politic cannot be separated from the experience of our own bodies. Social theory typically focuses on the ways that discourse shapes the body. I hypothesize that our bodies—bodily experience—give rise to and structure discourse.

In the case of nationalism, the experience of one’s body is projected into the idea of a body politic. Often, the line of demarcation between the two blurs. When Rudolf Hess declares, “Hitler is Germany, just as Germany is Hitler,” he implies that there is no separation between Hitler and Germany. Hitler’s small body has fused with the large body. Hitler has become a body politic. Two have merged into one.

Hitler’s rhetoric about the German body politic contains a narrative about himself. When Hitler speaks about Germany as a body containing a disease, he is also speaking about his own diseased body. What was the nature of Hitler’s disease—that led him to devise the Final Solution as a means to kill the disease within the body politic?