Cover image for Martyrdom : the psychology, theology, and politics of self-sacrifice
Martyrdom : the psychology, theology, and politics of self-sacrifice
Fields, Rona M.
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Praeger, 2004.
Physical Description:
xxiv, 184 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm.
Subject Term:
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BL626.5 .M37 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Martyrdom is a controversial and disputed concept. Just as religion is often hijacked by politics, martyrdom is frequently ascribed to a narrow, partisan, and parochial foundation. This is the first book to present varied views on the topic of martyrdom, reaching beyond cliches and simplistic explanations to provoke deep consideration of the essential nature of human beings and society. The volume's authors--experts in the disciplines of psychology, theology, and politics--examine martyrdom in thoughtful and thought-provoking chapters. A closing conversation between the authors is designed to inspire further discourse and debate.

Readers engaged in the exploration of social justice, conflict, psychology, religion, and the politics of memory will find this book unique and stimulating. The authors have appeared on public television and public radio, as well as ABC, CBS, and NBC news and discussion programs.

Author Notes

Rona M. Fields is Founder and Director of Associates in Community Psychology, a clinical and consulting company in Washington, D.C. She has served as Adjunct Professor at the American School of Professional Psychology in Virginia and Assistant Professor of Sociology at Clark University.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This book is essentially a conversation about aspects of martyrdom led by Fields (psychology, George Washington Univ., and noted scholar of terrorism) and joined by English scholar Owens (focusing on literature and film), Valerie Rosoux (emphasizing political factors), and Michael Berenbaum and Reuven Firestone (who view redemptive suffering theologically). All the authors raise important questions. Does martyrdom always involve personal choice? What about people of low self-esteem who are used as instruments by others? Do suicide/homicide bombers and kamikaze pilots qualify as martyrs? Was martyrdom created by monotheism? Does it have roots in Zoroastrianism? What are the differences between religious and secular martyrs? The most startling discussion is Fields', on the physiology of martyrdom; she locates motivating factors such as revenge and aggression in a primitive portion of the brain supporting a Darwinian basis for some acts of martyrdom in cultures motivated more by hate of others than love of higher values. Key works by Freud, Jung, Erikson, and Fromm provide context for specific discourse on martyrdom in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and in secular movements. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. S. Prisco III Stevens Institute of Technology

Table of Contents

Coilin OwensRona M. FieldsValerie RosouxMichael Berenbaum and Reuven Firestone
Illustrationsp. vii
Prefacep. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xv
Introductionp. xvii
Part I
Chapter 1 A Literary Preamblep. 3
Chapter 2 The Psychology and Sociology of Martyrdomp. 23
Chapter 3 The Politics of Martyrdomp. 83
Chapter 4 The Theology of Martyrdomp. 117
Part II
Chapter 5 A Conversation among the Collaboratorsp. 149
Indexp. 171
About the Series Editor and Advisory Boardp. 177
About the Author and Contributorsp. 181