Document Detail

The Italian Red Brigades and the structure and dynamics of terrorist groups.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  20590927     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
One of the problems in dealing with terrorism is that we have virtually no access to individual terrorists; only their actions are visible. The founders of the Italian terrorist group, the Red Brigades, on the other hand, have written about their experiences and have exhaustively explained their motivations. The author's premise is that these autobiographies and her interviews with several of the group's members give us access to the unconscious processes involved in the formation and operation of the group. After terrorist attacks, it is natural to ask whether the terrorists' capacity for collective violence is an indication of personal pathology. This paper argues that the relevant pathology in the terrorist enterprise is not that of the individual but that of the group. Relying on the theories of groups of Freud (1921), Bion (1961), Anzieu (1984) and Kaes (2007), the author argues that psychoanalytic theory is essential to understanding the motivations and actions of violent groups which otherwise remain obscure. Although the discussion has been confined to one terrorist group, the author hopes that it can also be useful for understanding the unconscious dynamics of other groups structured around an ideology which mandates the destruction of human life.
Carole Beebe Tarantelli
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  The International journal of psycho-analysis     Volume:  91     ISSN:  0020-7578     ISO Abbreviation:  Int J Psychoanal     Publication Date:  2010 Jun 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2010-07-01     Completed Date:  2010-08-20     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  2985179R     Medline TA:  Int J Psychoanal     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  541-60     Citation Subset:  IM    
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MeSH Terms
Attitude to Death
Civil Disorders / psychology
Defense Mechanisms
Group Processes*
Group Structure*
Object Attachment
Psychoanalytic Interpretation*
Psychoanalytic Theory*
Social Control, Formal
Social Identification
Social Problems / psychology
Terrorism / psychology*
Unconscious (Psychology)
Violence / psychology

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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