top of page

The Growing Hunger to Understand Hamas’s Pre-Ideological Terrain

Screenshot Wikicommons

Key to Dismantling Hamas and Jihad


War Blog Post #41

By Nancy Hartevelt Kobrin, Ph.D.


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.


Oct. 7 and Its Psychological Hunger to Understand 

The devastating tragedy of October 7th, 2023 has uncapped a powerful hunger to understand what went wrong and why so many were in denial as well as the so-called “second layer or wave” which has sparking global antisemitism. This psychological hunger is not abetting, and I am betting that it will increase. For many they are only at the beginning of a serious open non-PC discussion concerning the genocidal ideologies of Hamas and Hamas’s heinous criminal behavior. This pre-ideology terrain is my “mishbetzet,” Hebr. my square on the chest board, my area of expertise.


Every blog post of mine has dealt with this terrain -- early childhood development specifically as seen and communicated unconsciously by the jihadis. I have been working in this terrain concerning the perpetrators since Islamic suicide bombers detonated their truck bombs in Lebanon in the early 1980s. Back then I lived in Minnesota and I was treating PTSD patients. The penny fell and I flipped the coin to contemplate the mind of the perpetrators and how they bond violent to their targeted victims. I began to read the unconscious behavior functionally.


Here are just three recent indicators of such a growing hunger to take the discussion to a deeper level, a level that is not PC, concerning October 7th, 2023 and what we need to do.



Sign #1 "The Day After"

Recently an article in the prestigious Jewish magazine Commentary Magazine entitled “What must not happen in Gaza after Hamas,” by Richard Goldberg, indicated that everyone now talks about “The Day After.” Goldberg’s was an insightful analysis.



I responded to his essay adding a few comments at Commentary’s website but I did not even realize that my comments had been picked up by Commentary. Fortunately, my friends Ann and Jonathan Dubitzsky alerted me to that fact and thoughtfully sent me a photo of the comments having been re-printed.  Cf:




Sign #2 Brian Jenkins - America's Leading Counter Terrorist Expert

Next my hunch about this growing hunger was further underscored when informed me yesterday that Brian Jenkins, America’s leading counter terrorist expert, happened to visit one of my articles posted there entitled “No One is Born a Terrorist But Early Childhood Matters: Explaining Jihadis Lack of Empathy” in which I cited him when he gave a lecture here in Israel over five years ago. He noted that neuroscientists can identify potential problems by the age of six months due to the lack of the development of empathy and mis-attunement by caregivers. Cf.




Sign #3 Taking on the “Idea” of the Ideology

And if that weren’t enough today, I encountered Prof. Irwin J. Mansdorf’s op-ed “Defeating an Ideology Takes Time: Overcoming Hamas will be a long process, just like the defeat of Nazism, fascism and communism” in which he demonstrates how our attitude about Hamas’s ideology has become a serious stumbling block. Read here,




This is exactly what I have been saying about ideologies as a false life-saver which alleviates our anxieties and then we shrug and walk away saying what can we do? We can, however, do a lot beginning with having an honest and open discussion about early childhood development and Hamas's rage that exceeds murder itself. Dismantling Hamas demands exploring and educating about the pre-ideological terrain of their aberrant early childhood development.

A person growing up in a shame honor culture simply cannot get their psychological needs met. Its members are destroyed from the get go even before they start destroying us. I do not say this to elicit empathy for them. cf. My essay The Violent Brutality of Growing Up in a Shame Honor Culture Predicated on the Destruction of the Mother and the Maternal Bond, cf.



To conclude

We are too quick to give up hope on defeating ideologies. The loss of hope is precisely what the jihadis want to take from us. Moreover, as part of this unconscious psychological warfare of Hamas, we to easily fall into their trap by throwing up our arms and say – what can we do ?– it’s an ideology.

I repeat: The idea of the ideology has become too readily a false kind of lifesaver for us which alleviates our anxieties and terrors about jihad. However, it is incumbent upon us do this deep dive for ourselves, to educate ourselves. Only we can change.

Islam is not in pain. We can't change them. They have to want to change. While I believe that there are millions and millions of moderate Muslims, Islam now has approximately 2 billion followers and it is not moderate. Here I quote Ibn Warraq.

This is the longest war we will ever experience in all our generations to come. It will take time and we absolutely must educate ourselves about their aberrant early childhood and the heinous crimes of annihilation. I am reminded of and hold in my soul Rabbi Tarfon’s eloquence and wisdom in Pirkei Avot 2:16:



הוּא הָיָה אוֹמֵר, לֹא עָלֶיךָ הַמְּלָאכָה לִגְמֹר, וְלֹא אַתָּה בֶן חוֹרִין לִבָּטֵל מִמֶּנָּה.


It is not your duty to finish the work, but neither are you at liberty to neglect it.”



His wisdom demands us to take up this crucial task at hand and not be terrified to contemplate and learn about our terrors as well as their early childhood development and what went terribly wrong, for this is how we shall persevere, and this is our hosen, our resilience and hope for us and our future generations.



 May all those murdered in this long war may their memory be for a blessing; may all those wounded heal speedily and fully; may all the grieving find consolation with the good memories returning.

21 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


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. 


Thanks for submitting!

bottom of page