The Shadow of Narcissism: (Jewish) Self-Hatred in the Age of Identity Politics

The seminar is online only and will be available to view online from 8.15 pm on Monday February 28th, for 7 days. The link will be sent by email that day. If you were registered last term, you will automatically receive the link this term. To register for the first time, please email Please note that there will not be an online discussion with viewers, but comments may be posted on

My talk aims to highlight the need to explore the political, historical and psychoanalytical dimensions of ‘self-hatred’. I discuss ‘self-hatred’ as a genuine authentic, non-pathologized, and overlooked emotion that can help us understanding a core aspect of identity politics.

There is a whole history of the ‘self-hatred Jew’ (similar but not equal to self-anti-Semite) which I’m going to present briefly – a concept which turned from a pathology in the 19th century, to a psychological and sociological concept in the mid-20th century, into a rhetorical accusation in debates mainly over Zionism. However, I argue, ‘self-hatred’ is functioning in discourses of identity groups such as the so-called ‘diaspora Jews’ as a sort of a ‘shadow emotion’ of narcissism, that is a degraded emotion it is illegitimate to express in public (for example, non-Zionists Jews are in constant attempt to deny any self-hatred by performing ‘loving to the world’ as Jews, which I will trace back to Hannah Arendt). My goal will be to understand how self-hatred became a cultural taboo; and also, to ask some questions about the inflation, I believe, in the idea of ‘internalization’ in identity discourses, and in the social sciences more generally, in a way that excludes the possibility for some emotions to be manifested publicly.

Chaired by Niall Gildea; The paper will be followed by short comments and discussion from three other contributors: Josh Cohen (Goldsmith’s UL), Sherrill Stroschein (UCL), Louise Braddock (independent scholar).