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Stein, R. (2002). Evil as Love and as Liberation. Psychoanal. Dial., 12(3):393-420.

(2002). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 12(3):393-420

Evil as Love and as Liberation

Ruth Stein, Ph.D.

The letter to the September 11, 2001 terrorists is analyzed in an effort to understand the state of mind of a religious suicide-killer. The letter has a solemn, serene, even joyful tone that is infused with love of God and a strong desire to please Him. The author suggests that incessant incantation of prayers and religious sayings while focusing attention on God led to a depersonalized, trancelike state of mind that enabled the terrorists to function competently while dwelling in a cuphoric state. On a psychodynamic level, the theme of father-son love is used to explain the ecstatic willingness of the terrorists to do what they saw as God's will and to follow transformations from (self) hate to love (of God), and from anxiety and discontent to a narrowly focused fear of God. Homoerotic bonding and longing, coupled with repudiation of “femininity,” are explained as an inability to “kill” the primal murderous father, as the mythological Primal Horde. Freud's description of sons' (group members') hypnotic love for their father leader (which, that when not reciprocated, turns into masochistic submission), seems pertinent for the understanding of the sons' “return” to an archaic, cruel father imago. “Regression” to the father is compared with classical maternal regression.

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