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Constructions of the Berlin Wall: How Material Culture Is Used in Psychological Theory.

  • Academic Journal
  • Social Problems; Feb2006, Vol. 53 Issue 1, p18-37, 20p
  • This article examines how, in the latter part of the twentieth century, the German psychological sciences used the Berlin Wall to interpret and make sense of the psychological make-up of the German people. It focuses on how the wall has been invoked by psychiatrists, applied psychologists, and psychotherapists in their writings at three historical moments: (1) after its initial construction in 1961, (2) immediately after its fall in 1989, and (3) 10 years after its demise. After the wall was erected, it became an interpretive resource to think about a divided society, and to make visible, decipherable, and classifiable, the inner life of a people. Shortly after its fall, it continued to serve as a basis for categorizing human suffering. Ten years later the wall had been rhetorically transformed into a "mental wall" offering a compelling metaphor for modern Germany's apparent psychological and cultural divide. The three case studies exemplify how the psychological sciences use material objects, such as the Berlin Wall, as interpretive resources to reflect on psychological issues, make sense of societal transformations, and create and solve social problems. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
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