International Society of Political Psychology

Conference Abstracts

1AA Munich and Czechoslovakia in a Psychohistorical Context: Re-Evaluating David. Beisel’s “The Sui

(Session Organizer) Margaret Ann Wilson, University of Liverpool; (Chair) Metin Turcan, Interior Ministry of Turkey

Conference: ISPP 2011
Affiliation: University of Liverpool
Research Area: Political conflict, violence, and crisis

Abstract for Roundtable for ISPP Istanbul
Munich and Czechoslovakia in a Psychohistorical Context: Re-Evaluating David. Beisel's  "The Suicidal Embrace"
Panel Chair: William R. Meyers, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus, Psychology
University of Cincinnati
The noted psychohistorian David Beisel’s study, The Suicidal Embrace: Hitler, the Allies, and the Origins of the Second World  War, inquires into the psychological components of tragic Munich Crisis of 1938.  The book provoked an extensive discussion particularly among Czech psychologists and political scientists. Ivo Feierabend, Martina Klicperova, and Jana Svehlova are authorities on the political psychology of modern Central Europe. In addition, they have personal  or family experience with the highest levels of the  Czechoslovak or Czech or Slovak governments, and each has lived  through Nazi or Communist dictatorships, in peril of the secret police.
These social scientists undertook an extensive interactive collaboration with  David Beisel, involving an iterative exchange of comments and responses to comments, over several years, based on a symbolic interactionist theory of the creation of meaning.
The Roundtable presents their views and those of David Beisel in response.  Among the issues examined were: Did European political leaders before WWII think of Europe almost literally as an organism, and as a body with a diseased component that might have to be amputated to save the rest? Were European nations viewed by their leaders as a family with a disruptive member, Hitler? Was Czechoslovakia viewed as a newborn that might not survive? Was there suicidal ideation in the thinking of the Czechoslovak political leaders themselves? Do the David Low cartoons  illuminate the role of humor in the face of tragedy? And, can our symbolic interactionist iterative method serve to properly modify, enrich, or reject psychohistorical assertions?