The Arab Mind

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The Arab Mind is a non-fiction cultural psychology book by cultural anthropologist Raphael Patai, who also wrote The Jewish Mind. The book advocates a tribal-group-survival explanation for the driving factors behind Arab culture. It was first published in 1973, and later revised in 1983. A 2007 reprint was further "updated with new demographic information about the Arab world".[1]

The book came to public attention in 2004, after investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, writing for The New Yorker revealed that the book was "the bible of the neocons on Arab behavior" to the effect that it was the source of the idea held by the US military officials responsible for the torture and abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib scandal that "Arabs are particularly vulnerable to sexual humiliation".[2]


Along with prefaces, a conclusion, and a postscript, the book contains 16 chapters, including Arab child-rearing practices, three chapters on Bedouin influences and values, Arab language, Arab art, sexual honor/repression, freedom/hospitality/outlets, Islam's impact, unity and conflict and conflict resolution, and Westernization. A four-page comparison to Spanish America is made in Appendix II.

The Foreword is by Norvell B. DeAtkine, Director of Middle East Studies at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg.


Patai is criticized in passing at several points in Edward Said's book Orientalism. Other scholars[who?] describe the book as simplistic, reductionist, stereotyping, generic, essentialist, outdated, superseded, flawed, unscientific, and even intellectually dishonest.[3]

The Racism Watch organisation reported in June 2004 that Manning Marable, Columbia University director of African American Studies, had called for immediate action to be taken to end the U.S. military's use of the book. This was followed by a surge of media interest in the book during the summer of 2004. In an article in The New Yorker, Seymour Hersh said that he was told by an academic that the book was "the bible of the neocons on Arab behaviour".[4]

The book was described by The Guardian correspondent Brian Whitaker as one that presents "an overwhelmingly negative picture of the Arabs." According to a 2004 The Boston Globe article by Emram Qureshi, the book's methodology is "emblematic of a bygone era of scholarship focused on the notion of a 'national character,' or personality archetype".[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ # Recovery Resources Press, ISBN 978-0-9672015-5-9.
  2. ^ "Its best use is as a doorstop" by Brian Whitaker, The Guardian.
  3. ^ S. M. Stern (ed.), Ignác Goldziher, Muslim Studies, Transaction 2006, ISBN 0-202-30778-6 p. LXXXVI;
    Abdeslam M. Maghraoui: Liberalism Without Democracy: Nationhood and Citizenship in Egypt, 1922-1936, Duke University Press 2006, ISBN 0-8223-3838-6, p. 11;
    Michael Hudson: The Political Culture Approach to Arab Democratization. In: Rex Brynen, Baghat Korany, Paul Noble (eds.), Political Liberalization and Democratization in the Arab World, Lynne Rienner 1995, ISBN 1-55587-579-3, p. 66;
    Fouad M. Moughrabi, The Arab Basic Personality: A Critical Survey of the Literature. In: International Journal of Middle East Studies, 9.1 (January 1978), Cambridge University Press, pp. 99–112;
    Ibrahim Abhukattala, The New Bogeyman Under the Bed: Image Formation of Islam in the Western School Curriculum and Media. In: Joe L. Kincheloe, Shirley R. Steinberg (eds.), The Miseducation of the West: How Schools and the Media Distort Our Understanding of the Islamic World, Praeger 2004, ISBN 0-275-98160-6, p. 167.
  4. ^ PCDC Edu - 2004 Racism Watch Calls for Action to End Use of Anti-Arab Books by the U.S. Government Archived 2010-08-30 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Emram Qureshi (May 30, 2004). "Misreading 'The Arab Mind'". Boston Globe. Archived from the original on February 23, 2006.

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