03 June 2006

726) The Psychological Dimension of the Armenian Problem (The Unnoticed Side)

This article will explain the unnoticed psychological dimension of the Armenian problem in order to facilitate the study of the subject.

Armenians are claiming that they have been victims of a genocide. As oppose to this, the Turks are stating that there is no "genocide" as the result of a premeditated policy. During World War I, a civil war had occurred as the Armenians collaborated with the enemy and fought against state forces. The displacement policy has been adopted as a measure to overcome that situation.

The Armenians at present are full of hatred towards the Turks. After World War I, they have murdered the leaders of the Union and Progress Party and much later on assassinated Turkish diplomats during the years 1970 and 1980.

Besides terrorism, the main activity of the Armenian diaspora is concentrated on the recognition of the Armenian "genocide". The recent increase of the Western countries’ recognition of that "genocide" is due to the activities financially supported by the diaspora Armenians. Every decision that has been adopted on that subject causes great tension between the concerned country and Turkey, also negatively affecting Turkey-Armenia relations. On the other hand, the claims on compensation and territorial demands could cause dangerous tensions between the two countries.

Caucasia’s jeo-stratejic and geo-economic importance plays a great role for putting forward the Armenian issue on today’s agenda. Apart from this, there is the psychological dimension of the issue that has been unnoticed until now.

The Jewish holocaust constitutes the frame of this issue. This holocaust has caused for generations a victimization and a sense of guilt among Western Christian countries and especially among the Germans. Some try to take advantage of victimization since it is accepted to be a positive condition by the public opinion. This pseudo-victimization should be prevented, otherwise the parliaments and the international law courts of justice will be full of "genocide" claims.

Under the victimisation psychology lies the "excuse psychology". To claim that Hitler learned to commit genocide from the Turks is equivalent to saying that "We do not do such things, we have learned this from the Turks". That kind of thoughts leads to excuse himself and to get rid of his own sins. In such a situation it is the real victims who will suffer. The Israelis who support the Armenian "genocide" could be a good example in this case.

Saying that Hitler is not a first degree culprit, supports the thesis that Armenians founded the first Christian state. This is in fact the Western Christian conscience which takes advantage of the Armenians to absolve himself.

The Armenian diaspora is in a real identity crises and is trying to cure this by a victimization psychology and by hostility towards the Turks. The second and the following generations of the diaspora Armenians have never seen Turkey. Consequently their hostility is based on imagination rather than reality thus this leads to deeper feelings of enmity. The first Armenian generation who had suffered is not so deeply opposed to Turks.

The Turks and the Armenians should realize that by emphasizing their respective negativeness, they are kept in constant conflicting status.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Erol GÖKA*
* Head of Psychiatry Clinic at Numune Education and Research Hospital -
- Armenian Studies, Issue 1, March -April - May 2001

The Psychological Dimension Of The Armenian Problem (The Unnoticed Side)

Doç. Dr. Erol GÖKA

Certainly, mentioning a nations’ name together with ‘problem’ has an offending side for that nation. However we do not have such an aim here. On the contrary, in order to be able to define ‘problem’, that has been introduced into the world political agenda by the Armenian conviction leaders and the Armenian government, we prefer to use the phrase ‘Armenian problem’ in order to find a solution for yesterday’s ‘historical fact’ and today’s reshaped version ‘problem’. Besides, being objective in such societal-politic issues is really hard, therefore we usually have such a prejudice that shapes our point of view; the borders that forms the Turkish Republic today and the nations that used to belong to the Ottoman Empire and are neighbours to (whether Muslim or not) the Turkish Republic today, historically have a peaceful nature of relationship rather than conflictive. Today, the solution to the Turkish-Armenian or Turkish-Orthodox (Specially Cypriot-Greek) dispute lies in the re foundation of the peaceful environment.

Dealing with the historical-societal and political facts is still problematic after all the arguments in human sciences. The areas of ‘political psychology’, ‘nation’s psychology’, international relations psychology’ and the area we are dealing with while writing this paper is absolutely confusing and still has not reached an agreement even in its academic situation. The general tendency in Academics is to deal with this issue within the borders of social psychology and these are very important in-group and amongst group theoretical and accumulation of information flow in social psychology. However historical-societal and political facts are bound with politics, diplomacy and more importantly with psycho-pathology in the areas of group behaviour and leadership; and therefore some psycho-analysts who are both well-informed and experienced, put forward ideas in this issue. Lately, one can see efforts of creating point of views of ‘big group’ behaviour with the results of the observations of ‘small-group’ and group psychotherapy.

In this paper, we desire a solution to the Armenian and Turkish, true or invented dispute, with a ‘prejudice’ and with the aim of re-establishment of brotherhood between these two nations with group psychotherapy experience, we are going to put the psychological dimension of the ‘Armenian problem’ in spotlight.

"Armenian Problem"

‘Armenian problem’ has gone through various stages, the justification of Turkish government that Armenians are in co-operation and disloyalty with the Russians has created the grounds for the genocide issue through the late periods of the Ottoman Empire and especially with the Union of Progress (Ýttihad ve Terakki) government during the start of World War I. The ‘Armenian problem’ is reflected in the international arena both politically and legally; just like today’s ‘Holocaust’, after World War II ‘genocide’ has found a place in the international law, but in the past was referred to as ‘slaughter’, ‘massacre’, and ‘cruelty’.

The Turkish side looked at the issue from a different perspective; believed that there was not a planned ‘genocide’ or ‘slaughter’ manner, rather there was a precaution taken by the government of those times under its ‘displacement’ politics, because the Armenian side was on the enemy ranks and has attempted armed struggle towards the government forces which led to a kind of ‘civil war’ situation between the two nations. The result of the jurisdictions done by using the Armenian incidents and keeping some administrators responsible for the situation was not against the Turkish side. The event has not reached a solution after all the disputes done by all the concerned historians.

In spite of this, the hatred of some Armenians who have migrated to many places of the world, especially France and California organised themselves into a diaspora, has not ceased. They formed some terror organisations in order to kill firstly some notables of the Union of Progress and later Turkish Republic’s representatives overseas, which resulted in many assassinations that they find successful. The Armenian terror organisations could not take any action in the last 10 years of the 20th century, because these activities gave no result. Besides the terror activities, the diaspora activities were focused on the acceptance of ‘Armenian genocide’ especially in the Parliaments of the Western nations.

However, after the collapse of Soviet Socialist Republic after World War I, there is the existence of an Armenian state within the Independent Nation’s Community. By gaining independence Armenia wanted its voice heard as a separate political force and got into collaboration with the diaspora. Armenia ignited in war with Azerbaijan just after independence and occupied an important part of its land.

Another point that draws attention concerning Armenia is that, just like all the other nations that try to build an economic and social structure, has gone through a socio-economic scarcity, the difference of Armenia is that it experienced the most migration rate amongst all. The negative economic conditions brought Armenia face to face with a new ‘displacement’.

Since 1970s ‘The Armenian genocide draft laws’ sometimes came to the arena of various parliaments and sometimes got drawn-out and sometimes got delayed for another time. With the year 2000, it entered the agenda of many countries and got consent one by one. Obviously, before the acceptance process, the Armenian diaspora worked with a hundred times bigger budget than the Turkish Republic’s opposing propaganda and made organisational effort, published books and bulletins, organised meetings and lobby activities, in order to take the issue to the public opinion of the West, but in real fact this problem gained acceleration during the last few years. Naturally, every accepted law draft creates tension between Turkey and Armenia. In fact it is impossible to reach an outcome for both countries and these frustrations start being ready to explode dynamites for these two neighbour countries and takes its place as such in the international arena. Considering that as a result of all these legalisations, the claims that the Armenian side will demand land and compensation, it is not difficult to see the danger awaiting for these neighbour countries and the nations.

Despite the historical pioneers, it is being questioned by people why the ‘Armenian problem’ has suddenly come to agenda now. Such answers as ‘the geo-strategic situation of Caucasia in terms of power struggle and its economic-economic importance in terms of rich petrol and natural gas serves’, which are emphasised constantly, are interesting. Undoubtedly there is a high share of reality in these answers, however we are going to emphasise on another side of reality that has been forgotten till now; the psychological dimension of the problem. Using only strategic-strategic studies shows the importance of the power struggle side together with the maintenance of peace between these two neighbour nations.

Why Now?

The convenience of the psychological atmosphere now is as important as the existence of geo-strategic and geo-economic reasons, in terms of the legalisation of the ‘Armenian genocide draft laws’ one by one in the parliaments of the West. The main frame of this psychological atmosphere is shaped by the ‘genocide’ (the Holocaust) done by Germans to the Jews. After World War II, under the frame of ‘Jewish genocide’ an ideological and psychological atmosphere was created connected with a lawful point of view due to some scientists referring to this period as the ‘human rights era’.

Certainly this development is a very important step in an environment where the humanity is in search of a more equitable world, but it is more evident today that this step has led to some psychological side effects. The psychological side effects can be divided mainly into two. Firstly, with ‘Jewish genocide’, a serious feeling of guilt, which would continue through generations, surrounded all Western Christian conscious and mainly German society. The thousands of anti-Holocaust movies, publications etc. are positive warning effects for such brutalities not to take place again but on the other hand the feeling of guilt is carried to the next generations which has nothing to do with the situation.

Even though the second side effect is not approved by ‘The human-right ideology’, it is a result caused by the affirmation of victimisation; acting as if victim leads to creation of an ‘victimisation psychology’, which would be regarded as an advantage for many. Some started acting like victim in order to be able to benefit from this convenient psychological environment, due to the fact that ‘victimisation’ started being seen as a positive event in the international public opinion.

Those who are interested in mental health would know victimisation psychology very well. Courts of western countries are full of cases, which people claim that they suffer from individual ‘trauma’ and as a result their mental health got out of order, and that the delinquent should be punished for it. The interesting point is that those who are accused of delinquency are also in a situation of claiming that they are victim, in order to benefit from the advantages of victimisation.

The fact that there are people who are trying to benefit from the advantages of victimisation does not mean that ‘trauma’ is good or should not be opposed to. The need for prevention of victimisation and punishment of the delinquent is obvious, otherwise the world will turn into a place where stronger is always the winner policy will be valid, which would lead to a brutal arena. But at the same time a punishment system just like in the football (punishment of those who are enrolled in actions to get a fake penalty) should be added to international law, in order to prevent pseudo-victimisation. Otherwise, first national than international courts would be filled up such ‘genocide’ claims just like the ones in Western courts. Soon the situation will be ‘worn out’ which will result in an environment where the actual genocide suffered will become the real sufferers.

From Victimisation to Excusable

The feelings of guilt and victimisation psychology of the Western Christian consciousness could explain the reason for the Armenian law draft to be on the agenda nowadays. However there is a question that needs to be asked here; ‘After World War II an victimisation psychology has been dominant, yes this is correct but who will decide on who was victim?’ The sad scene comes to light with the reply given to this question. People wishing to benefit one from the advantages of victimisation and hiding behind this victimisation psychology are the ones holding the world power who are also the ones responsible for the deaths of millions of people in both World Wars. Everyone could propose to be victim. The rich countries’ parliaments and public opinions could try to listen to the voice of their conscience in order to ascertain real victim and supported. By this action what they are really trying to do is to clean their guilt conscious.

For this reason, Turks and Armenians, who had no responsibility in the formation of World War I nowadays find themselves in the arena and are the ones who suffered the most from this war. The actual responsible parties, who turned these two nations into foes, are now playing the judge role and have already cleaned their acts. No one asks the questions that will arise the topics of imperialist desires and attitudes like, ‘What was the reason for the two big World Wars?’, ‘What is the meaning of power struggle in the world?’, instead of these questions everyone ponders upon ‘Are the Turks or the Armenian more guilty?’

The real issue under victimisation psychology is the excuse psychology of the ones responsible for the two World Wars. ‘Hitler learned the genocide from Turks’ statement is being used as a fundamental propaganda theme these days in the Armenian thesis, however this childish forgery has become more blatant, just like a child who has done something wrong saying ‘.... did like that too’, and try to justify the action done. All the Western Christian consciousness hides behind the arrangement by stating ‘ we actually would not do such things but learned it from the Turks’, with this they wish to clean off their sins in a childish and a funny way. As history is rich enough to find previous responsibles, if this childish mechanism finds ground in international law the actual harmed would be the real ‘trauma’ sufferers. Whereas Israel government and intellectuals supported the presumptions thinking that the ‘Armenian genocide’ claims will be a part of the enlightenment of public opinion project, without thinking about the future outcomes.

The actual supplementary of the Armenian thesis ‘Hitler is not the first guilty’ is the statement ‘ the first state to accept Christianity officially is Armenia’, in order to create sympathy in Western public opinion. (Julia Pascal’s paper in Guardian on 27 January 2001) When looked at the attempts of Vatican and the Orthodox representatives it would be easy to understand how Western Christian consciousness are trying to clean off their sins.

The Idenity Crisis of the Diaspora Armenians

Today, Armenian nation is divided into three. First, those living in Armenia and partly in borders of Russian Federation, secondly Armenians who have Turkish citizenship and finally diaspora Armenians. They all have a different social psychology and we believe that the real supporters of ‘genocide’ thesis followed by Turkish animosity are diaspora Armenians. The reason for the action mentioned above is the serious identity crisis that they are in and to overcome this crisis they do not have any way but Turkish animosity and unjust treatment psychology. Imagine a diaspora Armenian’s psychological state living in France or California, whose parents have migrated from Turkey, and think about the self-feeling or ego-identity they would hold.

Mental apparatus material that creates identity are as follows:

1. A French or an American citizen,
2. Most probably Gregorian if has not become Catholic or Protestant, but deprived from Armenian Church, which they had religious education from,
3. They are said to be Armenian but most probably deprived from the possibility of getting educated Armenian besides spoken at home,
4. They know that Armenians live in Turkey and that they are better off in terms of Armenian identity compared to themselves, (What we really mean would be clear even if we roughly compare the contingencies in terms of religion and education of the Armenians living in Turkey and France.)
5. Is aware of Armenia’s existence, but would never settle down in neither Armenia, which is not in a good situation in terms of socio-economics, nor in Turkey, which is in a better condition than Armenia.
6. The thing they know best about Armenia’s history is what the Turks have done to them. There is no success sign and other peculiarity which would be the base for common memory and identity build-up, besides the memories of the trauma.

Everyone would easily accept that ‘Armenian antagonism’ has not an important place in Turkish society’s psychology. Turks have a common mind of victory for identity creation. Though with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Turks went through a mental break-down and a feeling of disappointment, but as a result after this break-down, they were able to create victorious events such as the Turkish Republic and the War of Independence and a national hero, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk which they decorated with goodness. Lets now compare in terms of creating national identity Turkish and the diaspora Armenians’ fortunate, which we mentioned above. We will see: For diaspora Armenians; there is no other chance than being connected to the identities of rich Western countries that they are living in, they have no chance of national identity but in terms of group identity Turkish enmity and feeling for revenge can have a founding function. They could enjoy the advantages of having a group identity and victimisation psychology (especially being a Christian victim) by being enemy of Turks. In order to create an ethnic group identity (community) a diaspora Armenian’s only common inheritance from their parents is Turkish animosity. Moreover, everything is imaginary for the second and succeeding Armenian generations who have never seen neither Turkey nor a Turk, also for this reason it is much easier to form an increasing degree of visionary Turkish animosity and build an identity by doing so. In that manner for the sake of such an imaginary identity, the second generation Armenians has come to the point to believe lies such as ‘Turks build their toilet stones from the Armenian cemeteries’ (A Script from Julia Pascal published in Guardian) and they are capable of saying what they most want to do ‘is to spit on a Turk’s face’.

For this reason, one who has the chance to get to know a diaspora Armenian gets

surprised on the increase of the Turkish animosity within every generation. Those who faced the real genocide were not in such a manner. Until they die, they will always get news from Turkey, they will listen to Turkish radio as if they never left this country, and always watch Turkish television. There are days, which they miss the harmonious days, which they shared with their Turkish neighbours. Their anger increased more as they miss Turkey, but because they are not thinking of turning back to these lands and because they want their children to settle in the country they are living in now, they try to forget the positive sides of the past and lay all the responsibilities of their migration to the Turks.

Obviously every nation has positive and negative sides. But those who are trying to destroy the brotherhood and harmony that the Turks and the Armenians were in once upon a time, by pointing out both sides negative points, should quit this action. Or the Turks and the Armenians should see the real faces of those who are trying to ruin the two neighbour’s relationship, must come to reason.



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