By Ruth Stein
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Extra info for For love of the father : a psychoanalytic study of religious terrorism
7 Such a religious experience of transcendence bathes one in a sense of truth that is absolutely convincing and sublime. ”8 Obviously, the shadow of an anonymous guide and leader who issues loving paternal injunctions falls upon the letter and is part of the liminal state of transcendence we are dealing with here. Being immersed in such an altered state of attention and receptivity engenders a sense of profound psychic unity and ineffable illumination. Such a state can be so intense and all-encompassing that it makes time and death disappear.
35 When we listen to the explanations of such authors as Roy Baumeister,36 who speaks of evil as being the result of an incremental accumulation of pressures, rewards, the need for acceptance, and the process of losing one’s identity to the group, we recognize that certain configurations of social, political, historical, and group circumstances indeed promote this kind of experience. Yet what interests us here is a particular register, to wit, the psychic process that builds a perverse killer-discourse, the discourse of evil that transgresses human bonding, self-existence, and death at the same moment.
In considering the temptation that the absurd and the violent may hold for the human psyche, we often witness the guise of procedural correctness and efficacy that a profoundly irrational, mad action can take. In the face of this rationalized irrationality, we need to use a mode of thinking, such as psychoanalysis, that will bridge the mythic and symbolic with the emotional and individual, and will strictly abstain from pathologizing or even diagnosing the individual actors of such dramas. Such thinking will forgo the error of dubbing terrorists as madmen, at the same time as it will strive, however partially and temporarily, to account for a destructive culture that may or may not be self-destructive.
For love of the father : a psychoanalytic study of religious terrorism by Ruth Stein