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Lachmann, F.M. (2017). Discussion of papers by Siri Gullestad, Klaus Hoffmann, and Manya Steinkoler, on the lone terrorist. Int. Forum Psychoanal., 26(4):226-232.

(2017). International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 26(4):226-232

Discussion of papers by Siri Gullestad, Klaus Hoffmann, and Manya Steinkoler, on the lone terrorist

Frank M. Lachmann

Individual, unique motivations played a major role in the acts committed by the three terrorists under discussion. The circumstances leading to the terrorist’s attack can, in each case, be understood with respect to a pattern of reciprocal violations of expectations of living in a safe, predictable world. Seeking help for severe depression, suicidality, coupled with an inability to contain the rage engendered by these experiences, led to an increasing propensity in these men for eruptive aggression. In one case, experiences of feeling dominated by an unpredictable mother who was rejecting and seductive were not accorded central significance. In another case, having profound feelings of his being on the cusp of violence go unrecognized preceded the terrorist act. In a third case, having faint feelings of wanting to live unrecognized, whereas only suicidal impulses were considered to be of significance, failed to stem the violence. To what extent the failure of mental health professionals to assess the precarious psychological organization of these three men, as well as to recognize what resources were still intact, is only open to speculation. Although recognizing the potential for violence more directly may not have prevented their violent act, it also did nothing to diminish the likelihood.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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