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The Problem Of Patriotism: A Psychoanalytic And Theological Analysis

R. Lamothe
Published 2009 · Philosophy

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In this article, I examine patriotism from psychoanalytic and theological perspectives, arguing that it is a deeply problematic form of love and devotion. After providing a brief overview of the discourse vis-à-vis patriotism, I depict the characteristics of a dominant form of patriotism (self-state) in the U.S. Given this, I argue that, while patriotism has a variety of forms, the most prevalent form tends toward tragic consequences and it is this tragic tendency that I depict from psychoanalytic and theological perspectives. From a psychoanalytic perspective, the extant form of patriotism in the U.S. represents a self-state that signifies an idealized, omnipotent, and imaginary identification, which is accompanied by and contingent upon a devaluation of the Other. Moreover, the dominant form of patriotic self-states is secured by weak dissociation, omnipotent thinking and, in most cases, a collapse of the symbolic equation. From a Christian theological perspective, patriotism signifies absolutizing the relative and contingent. This form of idolatry manifests a distortion of reason and will, which contributes to corrupted and corrupting forms of love and devotion.
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