61 Chapters
Medium 9781855758223

CHAPTER TEN: Dissociating emotions

De Masi, Franco Karnac Books ePub

“Eight years ago, I helped to make a television series that tried to explain why so many Muslims had come to hate the West. Last night, I remembered some of those Muslims in that film, their families burnt by American-made bombs and weapons. They talked about how no one would help them but God. Theology versus technology, the suicide bomber against the nuclear power. Now we have learnt what this means”

(Fisk, 2005, p. 1031)

Escape from pain

Many terrorists-to-be have grown up in a daily climate of abuse and violence and developed depressive reactions. Some have lost their jobs and had to survive by living on their wits amid a succession of humiliations. A high proportion of the traumatized population will never become terrorists, let alone suicide bombers, but a small group will be attracted by this solution.

Speckhard (2006) uses the concept of dissociation to explain the mental state of the suicide bomber. Her starting point is the definition of the phenomenon of dissociation given in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), which defines dissociation as a disruption in the usually integrated functions of consciousness, memory, identity, or perception of the environment. In suicide terrorists, an emotional barrier, or dissociation, prevents perception of the anxiety that would otherwise be aroused by the decision to take their own lives and to kill. In some cases this split is so severe that the event of death is encapsulated, so that it is isolated from the normal activities of daily life. The author mentions the case of an aspiring suicide who had planned to die in an attack after taking his final university examinations. This example shows that the reality of death can be split off from the rest of life. Dissociation is stated to be a defence deployed by persons whose survival is under constant threat and who can no longer tolerate any further suffering. Some traumatized young people ultimately deaden their emotions completely; they feel so emotionally stupefied that they describe themselves as “already dead”. It is precisely these subjects who are ideal candidates for suicide missions.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781855758223

CHAPTER THIRTEEN: Terrorism: reversible or irreversible?

De Masi, Franco Karnac Books ePub

“Wherever morality is based on theology, wherever the right is made dependent on divine authority, the most immoral, unjust, infamous things can be justified and established”

(Feuerbach, 1989)

Two types of terrorism

While suicide terrorism is generally thought of as homogeneous in nature, I shall attempt in this chapter to distinguish some particular features of this phenomenon on the basis of which two broad categories with different political aims and personal motivations can be identified.

Nationalist terrorism

The first form of organization to be considered is that of localized, nationalist terrorism, whose origins lie in the traumatic circumstances of an oppressed community. In this context, a political group is established which, in addition to traditional methods of struggle, eventually decides to use the weapon of suicide terrorism, in the knowledge that the psychological conditions exist for certain individuals to present themselves spontaneously for such missions. A possible example is that of Palestinian suicide terrorism, which some young people have seen as the offering of blood necessary for the foundation of their nation.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781782200437

Chapter Eight - The Pathology of Sexuality

De Masi, Franco Karnac Books ePub

“The insight has dawned on me that masturbation is the one major habit, the ‘primary addiction,’ and it is only as a substitute and replacement for it that the other addictions—to alcohol, morphine, tobacco, and the like—come into existence”

(Letter from Freud to Fliess, December 22, 1897, in Masson, 1985, p. 287)

Perverse sexualities are the result of precocious deviations in child development that become structured as pathological organisations that obliterate the child's evolutionary potential. In order to understand the nature of the perversion, it is important that we use the concept of sexualisation rather than that of sexuality. This distinction implies the existence of different categories of sexual experiences involving mental states that have little to do with ordinary sexuality.

Since the early days of psychoanalysis, sexuality has been awarded a central position in the psychoanalytic discipline, so much so that the term was used to denote Freud's psychosexual theory; however, with the affirmation of the theory of object relations, it has been transformed into a secondary effect of the affective relational bond. This is why I believe it is useful to describe the role assigned to sexuality in the various theoretical models and to differentiate sexuality in clinical work from sexuality in theory, with a special focus on pathological sexuality.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781782200437

Chapter Nine - The Erotic Transference: From Dream to Delusion

De Masi, Franco Karnac Books ePub

“We believe that love will solve all problems, when love is the prize for having solved all problems”

(Anonymous)

The erotic transference can be thought of as the two-faced Janus of analytical clinical work: it can be triggered by positive emotions that are necessary for building new shared realities or draw its nourishment from distorted, falsified constructions. In the former case, the erotic transference expresses the capacity to anticipate, to “dream” the emotional relationship with the object and this is why Freud valued its transformative aspect as a driving force towards change. In contrast, in the latter it amounts to a flight from psychic reality and can be transformed into a real delusion.

This chapter seeks to illustrate the various clinical forms of the erotic transference and the different ways of treating them. It is no simple matter to distinguish between the mental states that emerge in the course of the erotic transference, and neither is it easy to tell them apart from other analytic phenomena, since this type of transference seems to be not so much an isolated clinical fact as, in effect, a frontier region contiguous with many kinds of clinical experience. The erotic transference is observed in a number of psychopathological syndromes, such as the neuroses (in particular, hysteria), depression, borderline states, and even psychosis.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781782200437

Chapter One - What do we Mean by Difficult Patients?

De Masi, Franco Karnac Books ePub

“I concealed carefully any need for people, cultivating an impression of independence. I turned tricks into real life, and real life into a sham. I found myself excluded from life on the inside as well as outside and was inevitably confounded by how or why people related to each other, seemingly so naturally”

(Williams, 2010, p. 37)

While infantile traumas are important as agents of suffering in adulthood, pathological developments are subjectively highly variable. The presence of psychopathological constructions, a disinclination for analytic dependence, and distortions of the superego can be counted among the factors that contribute to making some therapies especially arduous. We must also add that patients that are seriously ill do not approach analysis or any other type of therapy on their own account, perhaps because they are unaware of the level of their own suffering or because they fail to realise that treatment may work changes for the better. So, whoever decides to come into analysis has already achieved part of the journey.

See All Chapters

See All Chapters