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Høydahl, K. (2012). Explaining the Inexplicable Thoughts on Thanatos in Light of the Terrorist Actions of 22 July 2011 and Ikonen and Rechardt's Theory of the Death Drive. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 35(1):58-65.

(2012). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 35(1):58-65

Book Essay

Explaining the Inexplicable Thoughts on Thanatos in Light of the Terrorist Actions of 22 July 2011 and Ikonen and Rechardt's Theory of the Death Drive

Kari Høydahl

I began to write this essay in the beginning of the summer of 2011, and worked on it both before and shortly after the terrorist attacks in Oslo and Utøya. In recent decades, it has become daily fare in news channels around the world to hear that someone has blown up a bomb in order to destroy buildings or kill innocent people for political purposes. Nevertheless, the actions of the terrorist on 22 July 2011 shocked an entire nation. The shock was in part due to the fact that Norway until then had been spared terrorist attacks. It was even more shocking to learn that the perpetrator was not an al Qaida terrorist from a foreign land, with a fanatically fundamentalist Islamist agenda, but a young man from a good background in a reasonably well off part of Oslo, who had gradually, and apparently in relative isolation, developed a fanatical political ideology. With these ideas in his head, this young man set off an explosive device that killed eight people and almost destroyed the government administration building where the prime minister had his offices. He then drove to Utøya island where he proceeded - cold bloodedly and with clinical precision to shoot and kill 69 innocent youths who were taking part in an annual Labour Party Youth summer camp there.

I have been told that the perpetrator moved between trees on Utøya with his weapon raised, swinging from side to side, searching for movements among all of the youths that lay hidden spread around in the woods - movements that could reveal where the “prey” was.

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