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Fundamentalist States of Mind: Some Psychoanalytic Thinking about Australia’s Treatment of Asylum Seekers

William Macmahon Ball Theatre (Room 107)
Old Arts, Building 149

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Asia Institute

This talk addresses the question: “Why has a majority of Australians supported successive governments’ off-shore incarceration and persecution of asylum seekers?” The psychoanalytic understanding of unconscious anxiety, and how it’s defended against, provides a means to think about some of the issues in this question. Post 9/11, we have been precipitated into a world of terror and confusion: We no longer know who are our friends and who are our enemies. This talk suggests that strong anxiety can push us all into a fundamentalist state of mind, where certainties and simplifications are used to defend against what is complex, confusing and terrifying. Ms Janet Chauvel discusses some of the dynamics of this way of managing unconscious anxiety. How might we think about the implications of fundamentalist states of mind for what we elect our governments to do?

The discussion will be led by Emeritus Professor Judith Brett.

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