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Christian, T. Kimbell, R. (2015). Decapitatus: The Horrifying Emasculative Symbolism of Terroristic Beheadings. Free Associations, 16(1):78-84.

(2015). Free Associations, 16(1):78-84


Decapitatus: The Horrifying Emasculative Symbolism of Terroristic Beheadings

Thomas Christian and Ron Kimbell

Perhaps nothing evokes more fear than decapitation. The authors examine the recent scourge of terroristic beheadings initiated by the radical group ISIS. Using Psychoanalytic theory the authors explore possible psychodynamic motivations undergirding decapitative activity as witnessed in the behavior of ‘Jihadi John’ and the terroristic subgroup to which he belongs. The authors argue for a fundamental emasculative fear rooted in unresolved Oedipal conflicts as being crucial in comprehending these recent and public - and horrifying - exhibitions of beheadings.

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