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SCENE ONE. A beam of darkness—understanding the terrorist mind

Halina Brunning Karnac Books ePub

H. Shmuel Erlich

Nowadays not even a suicide kills himself in desperation. Before taking the step he deliberates so long and so carefully that he literally chokes with thought. It is even questionable whether he ought to be called a suicide, since it is really thought which takes his life. He does not die with deliberation but from deliberation.

—Søren Kierkegaard (1846)

Terrorist violence has increasingly become part and parcel of our everyday life. Different world areas feature daily in the news and have become associated in our mind with terrorism—to mention Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Middle East—but the phenomenon is undoubtedly much more widespread and no one anywhere is immune to it. Recent terrorist attacks in India and Indonesia followed on the heels of those in the West: Great Britain had its share with Sinn Féin in Ireland and London, Germany coped with the Baader-Meinhof gang, Italy with the Red Brigades, Spain with ETA, and the United States was catapulted to the top of this list by the attack on the World Trade Center twin towers, which came only a few years after the Oklahoma City bombing. World-wide security precautions, personal searches, and careful baggage scrutiny are constant reminders of the prevalence of terror and the fear it inspires. In many ways, terrorism has succeeded in changing—perhaps forever—our feeling of personal and social security and our accustomed mode of life. The fact that we have become blasé about it and willingly submit to intrusive scrutiny is testimony to the extent to which terrorism has become an integral global component of our daily lives and cultural experience.

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Medium 9781855753273

CHAPTER TWO

Halina Brunning Karnac Books ePub

Setting the scene

Executive coaching involves a one-to-one relationship between a consultant or coach and a client, usually a senior executive leader or manager, which aims to further the effectiveness of the client in his or her role in the organization.

Therefore it is a dyadic task relationship, but with an important difference from, for example, psychotherapy, in that it is a relationship in which there is always an implicit external context in view. This is the organization in which the client comes, in which he or she works, and which pays for the coaching. In other words, in all the exchanges that take place between the client and the coach, there is always a third party in the wings. This “third party in the wings” is present in at least two ways:

Therefore, what the client says or does and what this elicits in the coach, as he or she listens and observes, needs to have reference to this omnipresent, sometimes hidden, third. What I am referring to here is the client and coach’s shared experience of the organization through the client-coach relationship.

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SCENE THREE. Psychoanalysis and international relationships: Large-group identity, traumas at the hand of the “other,” and transgenerational transmission of trauma

Halina Brunning Karnac Books ePub

Vamik D. Volkan

During her presidency of the European Union in 2006, Austria declared the same year to be the Year of Freud as well as the Year of Mozart. Freud’s and Mozart’s pictures were everywhere in Vienna. At the same time, I had the pleasure of being the Fulbright/Sigmund Freud Privatstiftung Visiting Scholar of Psychoanalysis, living in Vienna for four months, with an office at Berggasse 19. In celebration of Freud’s 150th birthday the Sigmund Freud Foundation in collaboration with the Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue brought together psychoanalysts and diplomats from various countries such as Austria, Norway, Turkey, and United States to expand Freud’s theory of group psychology.

When large groups (i.e., ethnic, national, religious, and political ideological groups) are in conflict, psychological issues also contaminate most of their political, economic, legal, or military concerns. People assigned to deal with these conflicts on an official level usually establish short- and long-term strategies and mobilize resources to implement them. In so doing they develop assumptions that support psychological advantages for their own group over that of the “other”. At this meeting our focus was on another type of psychology, more hidden, mostly unconscious, addressing obstacles that thwart peaceful, adaptive solutions to large-group conflicts. We noted that at the core of this psychology lies the concept of large-group identity, which is articulated in terms of commonality such as “we are Polish; we are Arab; we are Muslim; we are communist”. Large-group identities are the end-result of myths and realities of common beginnings, historical continuities, geographical realities, and other shared historical, linguistic, societal, and cultural factors. Large-group identity can be defined as a subjective feeling of sameness shared among thousands or millions of people, most of whom will never know or see each other. Yet, a simple definition of this abstract concept is not sufficient to explain the power it has to influence political, economic, legal, and military initiatives and to induce seemingly irrational resistances to change.

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SCENE SIX. Beneath the financial crisis

Halina Brunning Karnac Books ePub

Burkard Sievers 2

This thing we’re in doesn’t yet have a name. It is variously called, in placeholder shorthand, the global financial meltdown, the financial crisis, the credit crisis, the recession, the great recession, the disaster, the panic, or the bust.

—Paumgarten (2009, p. 42)

What first appeared as a financial crisis limited to US banks soon spread and began to threaten national economies around the world. The collapse of banks, the dramatic increase in unemployment rates, the critical state of the entire automobile industry, the decrease in national GNPs (gross national product) for this and next year, and other factors have forced us to face a world that is no longer what it used to be—or at least the one we experienced during our lifetime. And nobody is able to predict with any certainty how long the economic crisis will last.

The predominant public discourse on the financial crisis and its aftermath appears to be broadly limited to a political and economic one. It thus is focused on finding the appropriate choice of financial and economic means to diffuse the actual and potential damage and thus to encourage banks to offer credit both between themselves and to their customers, to boost production and consumption, and to bail out financial and economic enterprises which threaten to collapse without huge government support.

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CHAPTER ELEVEN: Panic and pandemics: from fear of contagion to contagion of fear

Halina Brunning Karnac Books ePub

Mario Perini

From time immemorial, epidemics1 threatened man’s survival, mental peace, and the social order that man has come to create.

As Walter Pasini writes in his presentation of a recent Symposium on “old and new epidemics”:

Plague, smallpox, syphilis, cholera, tuberculosis, influenza have changed mankind’s history for their impact on men’s life and health, and their demographic, financial and social effects. The great epidemics created panic and anxiety as they decimated entire populations. If one single person’s illness or death represents a tragedy for his/her family, the collective death adds on feelings of impotence and fear concerning men’s fate.2

Besides being a haunting ghost, a terrible memory of the past, epidemics have recently also become a present nightmare, a source of individual and collective fears, so much harder to bear in that they symbolically represent all the unseen or disavowed insecurity, complexity, and vulnerability belonging to our current life, as well as the archaic anxieties and “nameless terrors” belonging to every human being’s early childhood experience.

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