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This article explores the influence of psychological language and discourses on the contemporary view of nationalism, an issue that has only begun to be studied in recent years (García-García, 2013; Sluga, 2006).On this occasion, the author focuses on two currents or schools that contributed decisively to the new view of nationalism after the Great War: first, degenerationist medicine and psychiatry, highly accepted in the European social and political debate since the late 19th century; second, and no less penetrating, the crowd or mass psychology of Taine, Tarde, Sighele, and, above all, Gustave Le Bon.
After the Great War, as we shall see, nationalism was represented as a form of degeneration, or a barbarous and cruel regression to a prior stage of development, embodied by the masses. Particularly useful for its insights on the American character and its relationships to nationalism. The New Empire: An Interpretation of American Expansion, 1860–1898. Presents an economic explanation of the growth of nationalism. This article contributes to understanding the spread of fin-de-siècle medical and psychiatric sciences that were to make a powerful impact on different academic disciplines, political factions and ideological currents of the first half of the twentieth century (Burrow, 2000/2001; Hughes, 1958/1979).In fact, the rhetoric of degenerationism and the psychology of the masses has often been attributed to conservative or reactionary elites, or to the ideologists of German or Italian nationalism of the inter-war years (Gentile, 1982; Mosse, 1973; Sternhell, 1999).3(1), doi:10.5964/jspp.v3i1.371 Received: 2014-04-30. In line with this new view—that became established in the West a quarter of a century later—nationalism was no longer related to the awakening of the People to their history and destiny, their demand for independence or the expression of their own singularity.The historicist account of liberation and collective progress seemed to then turn into a drama of death and ravage, cruelty and mass crimes, war and apocalypse.But what is the ultimate relevance of this historical analysis?Why concern ourselves with the presence of psychological and psychopathological terms and ideas in discourses that were articulated almost a century ago now?After the Great War, as we shall see, nationalism was often represented as a form of degeneration, or a barbarous and cruel regression to a prior stage of development, embodied by the masses.This discourse and rhetoric was to condition the area of study for generations.