Laura A Cariola Abstract Psychoanalysis in Our Time

Abstract submission for ‘Psychoanalysis in Our Time’


Title: Exploring body boundary imagery and affect regulation in Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”

Name: Laura A. Cariola


Lancaster University

Department of Linguistics and English Language

County South

Lancaster LA1 4YL


United Kingdom



Reminiscent of the Freudian psychoanalytic assumption that perceives that “the ego is primarily and foremost a bodily ego” (Freud, 1923, p. 26), the corporeal turn of embodiment in cognitive linguistics situates the human body at the intersection between mind and language as a source of unconscious semiotic processes that emerge in early infant socialization experiences concurrent with the development of a coherent self-image, body boundary schema and adaptive affect regulation (Violi, 2012). Psychodynamic theories propose that the development of a weak self-image and body boundary schema, and maladaptive affect regulation stem from dysfunctional early socialization experiences. This study explores the relationship between body boundary imagery, primordial regression and emotion language in Hitler’s (1943) “Mein Kampf”. Special attention was given to the use of body boundary imagery and the fear of penetration with the body container as a double-image of rigid political categories. The Body Type Dictionary (BTD) (Wilson, 2006) assessed the frequency of body boundary imagery and the Regressive Imagery Dictionary (RID) (Martindale, 1975, 1990) measured the frequency of primary process language and emotion language. The strength of associations between the linguistic variables confirmed the research hypotheses indicating that Hitler’s use of body boundary functioned to contain a weak body schema and fragmented self-image, as well as dichotomous cognitive differentiation between “inside and outside, self and others, friends and aliens” (Chilton, 1996, p. 415). The discussion interprets Hitler’s intra-psychic processes as embodied in the language pattern by drawing on Langer’s (1973) psychohistorical study of Hitler’s life and psychoanalytic theories, as well as discussing the function of body boundaries in the formation of dichotomous self-other presentations in contemporary political discourses and associated cognitive processes.