Psychoanalysis Under Occupation:
Practicing Resistance in Palestine

Co-authored with Lara Sheehi


Winner of the 2022 Palestine Book Award for the Best Academic Book on Palestine

Psychoanalysis Under Occupation:
Practicing Resistance in Palestine

Psychoanalysis Under Occupation: Practicing Resistance in Palestine documents the inter- and intrapsychic practices taken up by Palestinians to stave off the effects of what we refer to as “colonial extractive introjects,” which is where Fanon’s “alienation” theoretically meets Christopher Bollas’s “extractive introjections.” The book offers the story of Palestinian psychologists in relation to settler-colonialism and violence but, even more so, in relation to their patients, communities, families, and one another (as a clinical community). In this regard, Lara Sheehi and Stephen Sheehi track the appearance of settler colonialism as a psychologically extractive process, one that is often effaced by discourses of “normalization,” “trauma,” “resilience,” and human rights, with the aid of psychology and psychologists, as well as psychoanalysis. Therefore, we locate the process of maintaining the culture and psyche of, what we would call, “Palestinian presence”, not only with historical phenomena, but as a contemporary, sustained, and ongoing conscious and unconscious processes of life under and against settler-colonial conditions. In other words, psychoanalysis provides a theoretical framework for Palestinian clinicians and ourselves to understand the experiences of Palestinians and the conditions of Zionist settler colonialism and military occupation under which they live. Yet, within the current conditions of Palestine as a living space, Sheehi and Sheehi explore how Palestinian clinical engagement with psychoanalysis also forges a decolonial psychosocial theory appropriate to the realities and structures of Zionist settler-colonialism. More simply, Sheehi and Sheehi examine how psychoanalysis is itself used by mental health practitioners to navigate not only the occupation, but also to imagine new possibilities for Palestinian unity, activism, and liberation.

For a free 35 page sample, see “Preview Review”


Robin D. G. Kelley

Author of: The Politics of Art: Dissent and Cultural Diplomacy in Palestine Lebanon and Jordan

If you’re looking for another book on victims of apartheid-induced trauma or a psychoanalysis of occupation, this is not it. Instead, Lara Sheehi and Stephen Sheehi have written a brilliant, insurgent work of decolonial theory and practice that centers the labor of Palestinian clinicians and their patients seeking to restore and sustain a sense of self, community, cultural integrity, and “presence” under the violence of settler colonialism. Building on and moving beyond Frantz Fanon, the authors understand the project of psychoanalysis in Palestine is not adjustment but resistance, liberation, and ultimately decolonization.

Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian

Chair in Global Law, Queen Mary University of London and Professor of Criminology and Social Work, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Psychoanalysis Under Occupation makes a compelling argument that interrupts settler colonial epistemic violence. Theorized and discussed in a robust, sophisticated, and well-argued manner, Psychoanalysis Under Occupation prioritizes Palestinian clinician’s expressions, conceptualizing an Arab Palestinian theory of psychoanalyses and resistance. Lara and Stephen Sheehi’s thoughtful and sensitive examination of al-nafs is a major contribution to psychoanalytic decolonial feminist knowledge produced as/through a liberatory struggle.

Lynne Layton

Ph.D., Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts Institute for Psychoanalysis

Sometimes a book shakes you to your very core and makes you see the field you’ve practiced in for forty years in an entirely new way. This is that book. In bringing readers into the material realities of Palestinian life under Israeli Occupation, introducing us to Palestinian clinicians, patients, Israeli and Palestinian supervisors, Sheehi and Sheehi show clearly that the way psychoanalysis is deployed is literally a matter of life and death. They reveal the multiple ways psychoanalysis is mis-used by those consciously or unconsciously bent on normalizing a violent status quo. At the same time, by letting us listen in on the multiple ways that Palestinian patients and clinicians resist allowing their minds and bodies to be occupied, they reveal what is possible when psychoanalysis aims at liberation.

Didier Fassin

Professor of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study and to the Annual Chair of Public Health at the Collège de France

How must one deal with the mental suffering of Palestinian patients? Based on an exhaustive analysis of the work of clinicians in Palestine, Lara Sheehi and Stephen Sheehi reject the paradigms of trauma and re-silience, make the thought-provoking argument that these patients’ psy-chic life cannot be reduced to their experience of settler colonialism’s violence, and assert that their subjectivities remain open to desire, eman-cipation, and the will to live.