Islamic Terror: Conscious and Unconscious Motives

By Avner Falk | Go to book overview

Terror, Love, and Hate

To understand the mind of terrorists, we need to know what terror has to do with early infantile love and hate. We need to understand the psychological origins of love and hate, early infantile terror, and narcissistic rage, as well as their vicissitudes in the fundamentalist Muslim family, in order to understand Islamic terrorism. Love and hate are among the most important emotions that affect our lives, but they are highly elusive, complex, and multifaceted phenomena. They are puzzling and often tragic, and they may lead to violence and terror. Violent love may turn into violent hate. The word “lovesick” attests to love’s psychopathological aspect.

What are we to make of the fanatical, blind, and self-destructive love of the young Spanish soldier for the gypsy femme fatale in Prosper Merimée’s novella Carmen (and in Georges Bizet’s opera of that title), which leads the hero to desert the army, become a criminal, and finally murder the woman he loves? And what are we to think of the teenager love in Scott Spencer’s novel Endless Love (and in Franco Zeffirelli’s film of that title), which leads the seventeen-year-old American boy to “accidentally” burn down the house of his beloved fifteenyear-old girlfriend and her family after her father tries to stop him from seeing her? Is the “unconditional love” preached by the Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI in early 2006 similar in any way to what most of us normally call love? And why did the same pope berate Islam and its Prophet Muhammad later that year, fanning the fires of rage and hatred of fanatical Muslims for “infidel” Christian “Crusaders” in the name of “love”?

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