Screen confessions: The test case of “breaking the silence”

Dana Amir, Nehama HaCohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present paper focuses on the phenomenon of “screen confessions” (the term was chosen to allude to Freud's “screen memories”): perpetrators' voluntary confessional texts which create false presentation of a coherent link between the speakers and their deeds—while in fact using multiple sophisticated mechanisms in order to undermine this link. The main hypothesis is that screen confessions are created through the perpetrator's use of a double language which dissociates between overt and hidden contents, and which rewrites factual and emotional history alike. The duplicity of this language is expressed through the massive use of screening mechanisms, such as the mechanical use of military or official rhetoric; the heavy use of passive rather than active constructions; the creation of a false moral hierarchy and a false causality, and the displacement of the position of the victim to the perpetrator him or herself. Seven hundred and ten testimonies of Israeli army veterans from the archive of “Breaking the Silence” (an organization of veteran combatants who have taken it upon themselves to expose the Israeli public to the reality of everyday life in the Occupied Territories) were qualitatively analyzed by two researchers, focusing on the use of psycho-linguistic defense mechanisms. The analysis validated, as demonstrated through a close reading of five testimonial vignettes, the effectiveness of deploying psycho-linguistic-defense mechanisms in differentiating between screen confessions versus transformative confessions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)296-312
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by THE ISRAEL SCIENCE FOUNDATION (grant No. 194/17).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Screen confessions: The test case of “breaking the silence”'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this