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Hamas’s Violent Battle

Wikicommons Image Screenshot - The Jinn

Hamas's Internal World And Its External Reality

By Nancy Hartevelt Kobrin, Ph.D.

War Blog #9

The Battle Between Their Internal World and Its External Reality

A deep dive into the mind of Hamas brings us to the subject of internal and external objects which are terms used by psychoanalysts to describe what happens in early childhood as the newborn baby internalizes and incorporates his first experiences in the world. If the baby has a calm, loving, nurturing mother, the baby grows up thinking the world is a good and happy place. If the baby experiences deprivation and non-attunement with the nursing mother, then that baby grows up thinking the world is a bad and depriving place, a world of paranoia.

The well-known psychoanalyst Irwin Yalom wrote in Momma and the Meaning of Life that the mother has so insinuated herself into the interstices of our minds that she can never really be rooted out. Yalom stresses the importance of our unawareness of how our daily life continues to be influenced by these early interactions with mama, all the more so if you have been raised in the violence of a shame honor culture such as Hamas – a hyper shame honor culture, ummi reigns supreme. The fusion is so severe that a jihadi cannot see the forest from the trees nor look inward and be self-reflective. They lack the capacity to turn the corner and look at themselves and wonder why they are so rageful – a rage that exceeds murder itself. As we have seen they are hollow on the inside but a war rages within and is spewed out.

Yet the maternal remains submerged in our minds but acted out in our daily lives in our interpersonal relationships. The early bonding experience with the mother trumps it all. It is universal to all human beings.

A newborn-infant experiences the world somatically and gradually builds thought patterns through his or her somatic experiences. During this process babies construct an entire array of experiences known as the “internal world.” Out of these experiences they form internal attachments, which can be good or, in other cases, rejecting and destructive. The child’s first attachments are made to try to get his/her basic needs met.

However, in the hyper shame–honor culture such as Hamas, babies can never get their needs met because needs are considered dirty, persecutory, and shameful. Therefore, these children end up with extreme deprivation. From the database of experiences built around the first internal attachment with the mother, the child and the adult he or she becomes, repeats the traumatic bonding and attachment with the external world.

As children grow older, their internal world is often at odds with their external reality. Such conflicts are frequently met with aggression, rage, violent fantasies, and projection. Aggression feeds on aggression; once it starts, it becomes unstoppable, and violent fantasies propelled by unmet needs turn into violent acts. To know and understand this clash between the jihadis’ internal world and why they strike out and attack external reality is to gain the most important psychological edge over the bloody business of jihadi terrorism. This is when primitive mental states come into being as an upshot of this internal war.

Hamas Splits The World Into The Jihadis Against the Infidels, The Jews

While Hamas claims that their war is over land, it is really about unmet needs, recognition, finding a sense of self that is enlivened but all of this goes back to the fact that they had huge unmet needs that were not met early in life probably by the age of one. The battle expresses the severe problem in bonding and identity issues. The internal lack is translocated into the external world and thrust upon the Jew as their scapegoat to blame for their problems. They have no stable sense of self. The projection involves the defense mechanism of splitting which is an indication of a primitive mental state. Psychosis is the inability to tell the difference between the inner world of violent fantasy and external reality.

Hamas thus appears under the guise of being reality based, but their psychoses belie them. Their delusional and psychotic episodes provide justification for the enactment of their most gruesome and mutilating acts. Indeed they are crimes against humanity.

The Primitive Superego of the Primitive Mental States

The primitive superego is the result of harsh and terrifying internal objects. This means that the early childhood maternal attachment and its extended environment was not nurturing, which is rampant in shame‒honor cultures. The child carries over into adulthood an internal world of persecutory and life-threatening objects. This propels the jihadi to engage external reality as hostile and, thus, it must be annihilated physically by violent means.

Magical Thinking That Persists Into Adulthood

To conclude we turn to the idea of magical thinking which becomes the link between the inner and outer worlds:

It is the belief that one's ideas, thoughts, actions, words, or use of symbols can influence the course of events in the material world. Magical thinking presumes a causal link between one's inner, personal experience and the external physical world. Cf.

A primitive defense mechanism that predominates in jihadi thinking, magical thinking has no basis in reality. As my mentor, Sander Breiner, M.D., who was an expert on Arab Muslim child-rearing practices wrote:

“Even though there is a sense of fatalism in that everything is Allah’s will [inshallah], there is a lot of wishful thinking and the belief in magic, the evil eye and the powerful Jinn.”

Superstition of this sort leads one to avoid dealing with reality and leads to aggression. Think defense mechanism of denial. It must be noted too that Breiner was the author of Slaughter of the Innocent: Child Abuse through the Ages, 1990. He would be so utterly devastated had he lived to witness the slaughter of the innocent on October 7, 2023. May his memory be a blessing and all those who were murdered their memories will forever be a blessing.


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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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