Deprivation to destruction? : a look at Reich, Azari and the Iranian Revolution (1999)
Type of ContentTheses / Dissertations
Thesis DisciplineReligious Studies
Degree NameMaster of Arts
In 1933 Wilhelm Reich wrote The Mass Psychology of fascism to psychologically explain the attraction of Hitler to the people of Germany, claiming that the combination of sexual suppression, religiosity and authoritarian parenting prevalent in Germany was the cause. In 1983 Farah Azari, in Women in Iran, endorsed his opinion, by suggesting that these factors accounted for the success of the Islamic regime in the Iranian Revolution. Wilhelm Reich has not been endorsed by the mainstream psychological fraternity and acquired a bad reputation for his use of a particular "sexual therapy". This thesis examines the contentions Reich makes in Mass Psychology considering modern psychological and affiliated findings, attempting to sort the gold from the dross in his theories. The thesis further examines Farah Azari's reasons for agreeing with Reich by looking at the Shia Karbala paradigm and its attendant beliefs and rituals, plus formal religious prescription, and social attitudes prevailing in Iran to see if she is correct in her assumptions. Broadly, the thesis finds that both Reich and Azari are more right than wrong, but sometimes err in their emphases. The author looks too for other areas of influence, and suggests that gendered socialisation plays a much larger part than sexual suppression itself in the formation of Iranian character tendencies. The thesis concentrates on negative character types, and therefore is not a balanced look at either Iranian society or Islamic religion. Reich correctly noted that "authoritarianism" is a pervasive worldwide character trait and therefore elucidation of the psychological mechanisms which "cause" or enhance it are of value to our own society, as well as helping us to understand that of others.
KeywordsReich, Wilhelm,--1897-1957; Azari, Farah; Religion and politics--Iran; Religion and the state--Iran; Social psychology; Social role; Sex role; Socialization--Germany; Socialization--Iran; Muslim women--Iran; Iran--Social conditions; Shīʻah; Islam and politics--Iran; Fascism--Germany
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