Specters of social antagonism

the cultural psychodynamics of dream aggression among the Tzotzil Maya of San Juan Chamula (Chiapas, Mexico)

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3 Citations (Scopus)


In this article, I present an analysis of “persecution dreams” among the Tzotzil Maya of San Juan Chamula, discussing the complex connections among sickness, interpersonal aggression, ideologies of social antagonism, and the spectral phantasies that shadow these social phenomena. Building on this ethnographic foundation, I present a “cultural psychodynamic” account framed in terms of projective-introjective dynamics (functioning at both the individual and social levels), arguing that the aggression dream serves as an experience structure in which inner and outer realities become deeply interwoven—often resulting in an increased sense of insecurity and existential threat. At its broadest level, this article is concerned with the affective dimensions of dream life, the processing of real affects and social relations within the register of phantasy, and the transposition of these phantasy-laden feelings back into waking life, where they influence not only the individual's sense of well-being, but the tenor of actual interpersonal relations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)314-341
Number of pages28
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sep 2017



  • cultural psychodynamics
  • projection
  • phantasy
  • dreams
  • aggression
  • Maya
  • psychoanalysis

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