This complex subject is presented with meticulous research by Lara Sheehi and Stephen Sheehi in Psychoanalysis Under Occupation: Practising Resistance in Palestine (Routledge, 2022). The book goes beyond the 1948 Nakba to portray how Israel’s settler-colonial violence cannot be removed from the Palestinian experience and its psychological impact, and the importance of a decolonial approach by clinicians towards their Palestinian patients in order to understand their psychological trauma as well as contribute towards the collective goal of liberation.
“Psychoanalysis provides a theoretical framework for Palestinian clinicians and for ourselves to understand the experiences of Palestinians and the conditions of Zionist settler colonialism and military occupation under which they live,” write the authors in their introduction.
The book presents ample feedback from in-depth interviews with Palestinian mental health professionals; draws upon decolonial writers such as Frantz Fanon; and presents case studies of Palestinian patients.
The authors affirm their interest “in witnessing how Palestinian psychologists and activists map the psychic structures that govern the relationship between Palestinians, and how Israeli structures of occupation attempt to break or mediate those social and political relations.” As the book’s title reflects, putting the Palestinian psychological experience at the helm, while refuting the usual practices of speaking on behalf of, or for, Palestinians, creates a space for psychoanalysis practice to be seen in its specific socio-political conditions of violence as a result of Israel’s settler-colonial presence in Palestine. The authors are Lebanese and so their positioning is imperative to reading the book as bringing the Palestinian narratives to the fore.
This book is on the shortlist for the Palestine Book Awards 2022, please click here to read the full review on the Palestine Book Awards site.