Narratives, Ontological Security, and Unconscious Phantasy: Germany and the European Myth During the so‐called Migration Crisis

Nicolai Gellwitzki, Anne-Marie Houde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article synthesizes scholarship on narratives and Kleinian defense mechanisms against anxiety to develop a framework that enables a nuanced understanding of ontological security‐seeking dynamics in times of crisis. Using the case study of the German narrative of the European Union during the so‐called migration crisis of 2015, this article engages with the broader question of how unconscious phantasy influences and guides decision‐making processes on a collective level as well as the question of how exactly narratives help subjects to manage anxiety to maintain a sense of ontological security. We show that, in the case of Germany, the EU offers a highly affective political myth that has guided both the decision‐making of the government during the crisis and the construction of German self‐identity narratives by attempting to introject the good part‐object of “Europeanness.” Crucially, German self …
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)435-451
JournalPolitical Psychology
Issue number2
Early online date14 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2023


  • ontological security
  • psychoanalysis
  • Narrative
  • European Union
  • migration crisis
  • Melanie Klein
  • myths

Cite this