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Friedman, L. (2005). Rejoinder. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 86(4):963-967.

(2005). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 86(4):963-967

Rejoinder Related Papers

Lawrence Friedman

Twemlow wonders how the psychoanalytic study of terrorism could be controversial. The answer will be found in his own essay, beginning with his first sentence. If there is anything more controversial than a scientist who discovers not just psychodynamics but also psychopathology in other people's political acts, it is a scientist who takes the mental illness of a political movement as the subject of an enquiry, rather than its conclusion.

How is that objection handled here? By changing the topic. In Twemlow's four-point prospectus, the target is no longer a political act. It is no longer any particular kind of act—it is, indeed, no longer anything at all: Twemlow tells us that terrorism is whatever a group or epoch chooses to call terrorism. Doubters will say that Twemlow has set up the perfect study for psychoanalytic social enquiry— a pathological diagnosis with no particular patient to contradict it. Evidence can be whatever the investigator knows something about, and whatever argues for the desired attitudinal ‘treatment’.

Obviously, Twemlow has a more particular subject in the back of his mind, since he considers terrorism a pejorative, used only against one's enemies. He is thinking of the usage of the moment, where the term ‘terrorism’ makes and breaks military alliances. But this specific meaning (which is what provides topical relevance) does not actually anchor Twemlow's enquiry, since he also refers to situations where terrorism

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