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Psychoanal Hist. 2009;11(2):175-91.

The impact of Islamophobia.

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Institute of Psychoanalysis, London


Muslims, as members of minority communities in the West, grow up against a background of everyday Islamophobia. I suggest that the Muslim self internalized in such a setting is denigrated (Fanon 1952), a problem usually grappled with during adolescence when identity formation is the key developmental task. This typically involves the adolescent taking on polarized positions and embracing extreme causes. Following the 9/11 and 7/7 attacks Islamophobia intensified, which can be understood, at the psychological level, as an internal racist defence against overwhelming anxiety. Within that defensive organization, which I describe, fundamentalism is inscribed as the problematic heart of Islam, complicating the adolescent's attempt to come to terms with the inner legacy of everyday Islamophobia. I explore these themes through a case study of a young man who travelled to Afghanistan in the 1990s, and by brief reference to Ed Husain's "The Islamist" and Mohsin Hamid's novel "The Reluctant Fundamentalist".

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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