The heroic self under stress: Prospective effects on anxious mood in Israeli adults exposed to missile attacks Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract Three aspects of heroic self-representations have recently been identified: self-as-savior , self-as-conqueror , and heroic-identification (i.e., linking oneself with heroes). In Israeli-Jewish society, heroism represents a convergence of the cultural myth of the Tzabar (the tough New Jew) with manic-narcissistic defenses that replace helplessness with exhilaration. We expected Heroic identification to epitomize the myth of the Tzabar, and thus to confer the greatest stress-related vulnerability. Israeli adults ( N  = 812) were assessed pre-and-post a prolonged exposure to missile attacks. Heroic identification prospectively predicted increased anxious mood, both as a main effect and under major stressful life events. Self-as-savior predicted an increased anxious mood under high levels of perceived-stress related to the missile attacks. Possible mechanisms of these effects are discussed.

publication date

  • January 1, 2018