Fascism as an Ordinary Human Phenomenon

Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Research Paper

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Peter Buirski

Second Advisor

Kimberly Gorgens

Third Advisor

Thomas Davidson


Nazi, Psychoanalysis, Fascism


This qualitative research integrates writings from the disciplines of psychoanalysis, history, and political science. By first exploring the genesis of fascism within the Third Reich and then current events within the United States, a destructive cycle of psychological phenomena is described. A novel contribution of this research is that these phenomena have an element of psychosis (they are developmentally determined), are ordinarily human, and are identifiable in most people. These phenomena are important to identify and mitigate insofar as they have the potential to lead to authoritarian movements reminiscent of fascism. Significant features of this cycle of psychological phenomena include: trauma and destitution that lead to narcissistic injury and identity anxiety, black-and-white processes of splitting, projection, and denial, identifications amongst self-validating group members and with an idealized leader, an inflexibility of thought and an ideological certainty, a possible loss of connection to certain aspects of reality, and processes of in-grouping and out-grouping that lead to dehumanization and the kinds of traumatic events and circumstances that begin the cycle anew. Excerpts from the writings of mental health professionals, historians, researchers, and others are sewn together to paint two disturbing parallel pictures—one of the recent past, and one of the present—demonstrating both the existence of this cycle of psychological phenomena as well as its potential to lead to the breakdown of democratic thought and the development of authoritarian movements. Utilizing understanding and empathy, brief suggestions are made regarding the possibility for preventative intervention to interrupt this destructive cycle.

Publication Statement

Copyright held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


38 pgs

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