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Volume 32 Issue 3 (May/June 2014), Pages 259-453

The Violent True Believer as a “Lone Wolf” – Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Terrorism (pages 347-365)

The existing research on lone wolf terrorists and case experience are reviewed and interpreted through the lens of psychoanalytic theory. A number of characteristics of the lone wolf are enumerated: a personal grievance and moral outrage; the framing of an ideology; failure to affiliate with an extremist group; dependence on a virtual community found on the Internet; the thwarting of occupational goals; radicalization fueled by changes in thinking and emotion – including cognitive rigidity, clandestine excitement, contempt, and disgust – regardless of the particular ideology; the failure of sexual pair bonding and the sexualization of violence; the nexus of psychopathology and ideology; greater creativity and innovation than terrorist groups; and predatory violence sanctioned by moral (superego) authority. A concluding psychoanalytic formulation is offered. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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