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Hamas’s “Unconscious” Matricide Trumps Femicide

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The Elephant in the Room for Oct. 7th





By Nancy Hartevelt Kobrin, Ph.D.



War Blog Post #39

Consider this: 94% est. of thinking is unconscious & 95% est. of communication is nonverbal, thus symbols and fantasy are at the core of the problem of political violence. Form follows function; function follows fantasy. All behavior can be potentially understood.



October 7th

There are no words to adequately express nor contain the emotions concerning the devastating atrocity that was perpetrated against Israel on October 7th. We continue to hope for the return of our hostages. May those who perished may their memory be a blessing.


As a scholar of Islam, unfortunately I was not surprised by the atrocities nor the hostage taking because this is classic jihad. There is within Islam a deep bloody history of sexual and gender-based violence across the centuries which arose with the invasion and spread of the religion. As Ibn Warraq has written there are millions and millions of moderate Muslims but Islam itself is not moderate. Hamas reenacted this history by giving it some new obscene twists. Sinwar and Deif knew this historical playbook well. In this post I briefly map out the critical missing piece relating to femicide. The elephant in the room concerning the root developmental problem for femicide which has largely been missing  is Hamas’s “unconscious matricide.”




Matricide is defined as the killing of one’s mother. In psychoanalytic parlance “unconscious matricide” is the displacement by projection on to the feminized other who is then killed off as a substitute for the killing of one’s own mother. This is the common understanding in criminology of the serial killer who translocates his rage, a rage that we have seen as that which exceeds murder itself for his mother on to an innocent and most often a female who represents an unconscious link back to his mother.


Elsewhere I have written that the Jew is also the feminized Other in Islamic theology. The terrain that we are exploring herein is “pre-ideologies,” which means the early childhood development of Hamas.  It was derailed because they were not permitted to separate from their mothers. It has left them in a constant state of rage and negativity because they never passed through the individuation-separation stage. They remain developmentally neotenized and impeded in their thinking. They never developed a conscience, superego. They have the need to hate and the need to have an enemy by age 3 as the Turkish Muslim psychoanalyst Vamik Volkan has put it. This was in place by age three along with their psychotic obsession with the Jews. The obsession stabilizes their fragile personalities by providing an object outside of themselves into which they can inject their toxicity and defectiveness. They remain locked in a maternal symbiosis due to the unconscious taboo in Arab Muslim shame honor cultures that the bond between mother and child, even more so the male child, is inseverable; it can never be broken. This unconscious matricide underpins the entire enterprise of femicide yet we do not talk about it as much as we should.



Sexual and Gender-based Violence

While the Wikipedia entry on sexual and gender-based violence in the 7 October attack on Israel provides an introductory purview of what happened, here:


It does not provide an in-depth understanding of the unconscious psychodynamics i.e. why Hamas’s rage that exceeds murder itself against the Jewish females was so easily unleashed. It has everything to do with how they were raised before the introduction of the genocidal ideologies. While it is commonly put that such hatred was “nursed in its mother’s milk,” this too is a simplistic explanation. It is much more than that and much earlier beginning with utero due to the cultural preference for the male baby and all the mother’s unconscious fantasies and anxieties about the baby. However, I want to be explicit that this analysis does NOT blame the mother because she was once a devalued little abused girl.



Clarification on Femicide

Shalva Weil Director of Israel Observatory on Femicide in the following Times of Israel article clarified several important points about femicide. “Sometimes the murder of women reported in the media does not constitute femicide, when she is killed by accident, or because of a criminal act, and not on account of her gender.”


Motives for femicide in the Arab community, which makes up 21% of the total population, are often related to “perceived harm to family honor due to the victim’s lifestyle,” the report said, noting “unprecedented” cases such as the “targeted killing” of a lesbian woman from the Druze community. 



Yet again there is no mention of femicide’s psychological underpinnings with a link to unconscious matricide.



Femicide's Patriarchal Roots

Femicide, defined as the misogynous killing of women by men (Russell and Radford, 1992), has its roots in the larger feminist discourse, which emphasises the patriarchal [emphasis mine] nature of society and the tendency to use violence as tool of repression in the maintenance of male dominance.


While patriarchy is linked to femicide, there is no explanation as to why? Furthermore, the issue of patriarchy and shame honor cultures is not discussed considering the developmental pathway of its children. Mosab Hassan Yousef, the Green Prince, son of Hamas, said that the greatest enemy is shame. We should heed his words and try to understand this crucial insight.


Just to give one example of a significant shame related problem in this developmental pathway is the lack of attunement between mother and baby. The male baby is a narcissistic object of honor for the mother and he is her appendage, while the female baby is unconsciously rejected as an inferior object. It is as if the lack of attunement due to this overvaluation of the male baby exacerbates the tightly wound pathological maternal attachment yielding a violent traumatic bonding. This impacts on brain development causing cognitive impairments such as not being able “to see the forest from the trees” for they are held back in a position of paranoia, feeling that the entire world especially the Jews are out to get them.


Meanwhile our inability to recognize, name and describe the contours of this deep-seated problem only continues to worsen because of our unwillingness to listen and see that this cultural problem leads to generating rage, but it is unconscious matricidal rage cloaked in ideologies of genocide and jihad. Hamas’s culture is a violent one to grow up in. It is

 is predicated on the destruction of the mother and her maternal bond, i.e. unconscious matricide.


Femicide alone does not explain this unconscious psychodynamic nor its transmission of rage and projection for Oct. 7th. It is this unconscious matricide which is at work. Until “unconscious matricide” is recognized as the root problem of engaging with Hamas, there can be no real strategy for the “day after.”  And like a bad version of the movie “Ground Hog Day,” we’ll be at it again.



The Idea of the "Ideology" as a Pseudo Lifesaver Allaying Our Anxieties

People throw up their hands, sigh and say, “well we can’t get rid of Hamas because it is an ideology.” This is  dangerous and a misunderstanding of the overarching problem. Why? The theme of the ideologies and the inability to do anything about them have become like a “false lifesaver” that we latch on to and say so we can then shrug and remain in denial of the underlying problem of unconscious matricide. We can’t see the elephant in the room because now our terror of matricide throws us into a psychological position of being in denial. The ideologies function as a kind of “packaging” for the early affect, emotions of rage swirling around matricide. There is no reason why the Gazans and Hamas can’t be confronted concerning this cultural problem even though it holds the potential for them to feel like they are being shamed. This is a mistranslation because the explanation and analysis are meant to educate despite the fact that some constructive criticism does sting. They have the emperor’s new clothes syndrome because they are so terrified themselves. Their response is rage and an embracing of violent Hamas.


The ramifications are huge if this elephant is ignored. The problem is deeply rooted in Gazan and Hamas cultures. The “ideologies” of genocide are extremely problematic but if they were taken away or removed, the root problem of the infant development of the brain with its attendant paranoia remains.


The Seat of Paranoia Resides in the Maternal Symbiosis (No Individuation-Separation)

How is this so? The chronically devalued abused little girl in the patriarchal setting of Gaza and Hamas is bombarded from the time of her birth if not sooner that she is useless in comparison to the male. Yet she grows up to be the mother who is tasked with producing a male son to gain honor, lege a pseudo sense of self as well as making the brain of this male baby. But wait, one can’t expect a chronically abused little girl to have gotten her psychological needs appropriately met in her relationship with her own once upon a time devalued mother. In short, she has been “running on empty” all her life. She then gives birth to a baby, and she comes to experience the overwhelming needs of an infant as attacking her. Yes of course, she has “mistranslated” the scene of the infant’s psychological needs, but it captures the essence of such a brutal vicious cycle.


To write off the problem of femicide to patriarchal society is also a superficial understanding of the root problem. Such an explanation falls short to acknowledging and explaining the specific role the mother plays in the unconscious mind of the jihadis. To solve the problem education and honesty remain critical. While a serious discussion of sexual and gender-based violence and femicide concerning Oct 7th remains an imperative, to give it its due the subject of Hamas’s “unconscious matricide” as the elephant in the room must be named.



Mutilation of the Body -- The Red Flag of Matricide

It is well known in criminology that in serial killing the mutilation of the female is displaced rage against the mother of the serial killer. The Zodiac serial killer was found living in the basement (lege unconscious) of his mother’s home. Zarqawi who engaged in the beheading rampage was known to send love letters to his mother decorated with flowers while he was imprisoned. The Iraqi Muslim child psychiatrist Sami Timimi wrote that the bond between mother and child in Arab Muslim culture is “inseverable” meaning that there is an unconscious social taboo about separating from one’s mother. By now the readers of my blog posts know that this is a point that I have been trying to drive home because ironically even Timimi did not understand the full psychoanalytic ramifications of what he had written. This was very revealing to me when I read what he had written. This means that in these cultures of rage that exceed murder itself – there is always already a maternal symbiosis where the child grows into adulthood never being able to see “the forest from the trees” and more importantly having been denied the right to develop a superego. Instead they remain stuck in the reverse world where good is bad and bad is good. 


This rage of being smothered by mother, leads to projection on to the Other to murder since it is not psychologically “permissible” to murder one’s mother, the Other must be raped, mutilated, and murdered. Rape is an unconscious displaced maternal symbiosis. Rape is a physical fusion of two human beings.



To Conclude

Political correctness is killing us as we fail to factor in these significant differences. It is not just or only femicide. Oct 7th was Hamas’s massacre embodied and articulated nonverbally their “unconscious matricide.” Only when this issue can be dealt with publicly and named as a form of matricide, only then is there the possibility of intervening into Hamas and Gazan’s violent cycle of wanton mutilation, raping, and mass murder. We must therefore recognize and educate ourselves about this “pre-ideology” terrain of political terrorism which until now has been the elephant in the room.

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Nancy Hartevelt Kobrin, Ph.D.

Psychoanalyst Counter Terrorist Expert

Psychoanalyst Counter Terrorist Expert

The aim of this blog is to promote and advance an understanding of the relationship of early childhood to the jihadis’ violent behavior and externalized hatred. Many aspects of culture will be addressed in order to do a deep dive and a deep dig into the unconscious behavior behind all the political ideologies and the verbiage. 


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