Making up ‘national trauma’ in Israel: From collective identity to collective vulnerability

Galia Plotkin-Amrami*, José Brunner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We sketch a variety of institutional, discursive, professional, and personal ‘vectors’, dating back to the 1980s, in order to explain how ‘national trauma’ was able to go from a cultural into a professional category in Israeli mental health during the Al-Aqsa Intifada (2000–2005). Our genealogy follows Ian Hacking’s approach to transient mental illnesses, both illustrating its fertility and expanding its horizon. Thus, we also explore the dynamics that developed in the Israeli mental health community with the advent of ‘national trauma’: while the vast majority of Israeli psychologists and psychiatrists did not adopt the category, they embraced much of its underlying logic, establishing a link between Israeli identity and the mental harm said to be caused by Palestinian terror. Remarkably, the nexus of national identity and collective psychic vulnerability also prompted the cooperation of Jewish and Palestinian-Israeli mental health scholars seeking to explore the psychological effect that the minority status of Israeli Palestinians had on them during the Al-Aqsa Intifada.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)525-545
Number of pages21
JournalSocial Studies of Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - 7 Aug 2015


  • Ian Hacking
  • Israel
  • Palestinian
  • genealogy
  • identity and mental health
  • national trauma


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