Yochai Ataria
Tel HaiCollege
Shaun Gallagher
University of Memphis
Muselmannwas a term used in German concentration camps to describe prisoners near death due to exhaustion, starvation, and helplessness. This paper suggests that the inhuman conditions in the concentration camps resulted in the development of a defensive sense of disownership toward the entire body. The body, in such cases, is reduced to a pure object. However, in the case of theMuselmannthis body-as-object is felt to belong to the captors, and as such is therefore identified as a tool to inflict suffering and pain on theMuselmannhimself. In this situation, lacking cognitive resources, theMuselmannmay have no other alternative than to treat his body as an enemy, and then to retreat or disinvest from the body. This response is a form of somatic apathy, an indifference that is tied to a loss of the self/non-self distinction. This may, in turn, lead to suicidal inclinations, even after liberation from the camp.
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DOI 10.1163/15691624-12341286
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References found in this work BETA

The Structure of Behavior.Maurice Merleau-Ponty - 1963 - London, U.K.: Beacon Press.

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I Am Not My Body, This Is Not My Body.Yochai Ataria - 2016 - Human Studies 39 (2):217-229.

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