David Levine and Matthew Bowker explore cultural and political trends organized around the conviction that the world we live in is a dangerous place to be, that it is dominated by hate and destruction, and that in it our primary task is to survive by carrying on a life-long struggle against hostile forces. Their method involves the analysis of public fantasies to reveal their hidden meanings. The central fantasy explored is the fantasy of a destroyed world, which appears most commonly in the form of post-apocalyptic and dystopian narratives. Their special concern in the book is with defenses against the painful consequences of the dominance of this fantasy in the inner world, especially defenses involving the use of guilt to assure that something can be done to repair the destroyed world.
Topics explored include: the formation of internal fortresses and their projection into the world outside, forms of guilt including bystander guilt and survivor guilt, the loss of and search for home, and manic forms of reparation.