Based on the theoretical framework of psychoanalysis, a lot has been thought of and many attempts have been made to search for a far-reaching evaluation about what the phenomenon of terrorism can be in our Culture.

Evidently, nobody would necessarily have to worry about this matter, if we were to read books about humankind history and simply follow the psychic evolution of the species, from prehistoric times to the present-day.

If terrorism were only linked to barbaric and primitive people (and anthropology never equated primitive = terrorism), the interest in this theme could be merely academic.

Nevertheless, to the perplexity of modern times, terrorism is absolutely current. This evil presents itself in the most varied areas of the planet and can even (to our astonishment!) present itself in wealthy neighborhoods as well.

Therefore, it is a big mistake to suppose that terrorism is necessarily the consequence of poverty and lack of structure in Health and Education areas. It is more correct to insert it in the overall picture of psychopathology related to deliriums of power and arrogance.

Terrorism is the result of progressive unbalance and failure of the most noble mental functions, so to speak, that can be expressed by millionaires, politicians, intellectuals, businessmen, etc. Throughout a juggling of rationalizations, this type of mental functioning may not try to justify its cruelty, but certainly it tries to screen off the evidence of its bad intentions and its corrupt and inadmissible methods, which always have a purpose, a target, a focus, that are very well defined

The masses often become an instrument of manipulation so that these people can minimize their degree of self-exposure and avoid dealing with the harmful consequences of their acts. Obviously, one never knows about the disgraceful and tumultuous waves of upheaval and anarchy that could originate at the core of these chaotic movements.

Terrorism is nothing other than an extremely archaic way - sheer madness indeed - of trying to solve any type of emotional conflict that the individual, group or nation have to manage.

When the psychic economy destabilizes itself or hasn't even reached a considerable degree of integration, one cannot refer any problematic issue to a convergence of possible solutions, through legitimate means, supported by the institutions that structure civilization.

Even though terrorism is a very ignorant method of confrontation, there is a source of great noise among all the paraphernalia used by 'the terrorizing terror' that stems not only from sophisticated technology and war weaponry but from minds of intellectual brilliance that are unable to integrate ideas and emotions in a healthy way.

Which would be the objectives of terrorism?

In a word - destruction - of everything that arouses envy, greed and, paradoxically, terror as well. Cruelty, which is innate in human beings and remains inscribed in the deepest substrata of the psyche, being usually subtracted from ordinary behavior, eventually comes to the fore and becomes the main weapon.

One must not mistake cruelty for sadism, which is closely linked to sexuality, even in its most rudimentary manifestations. Violence shouldn't be confused with aggressiveness, which is also intimately linked to libido and is necessary for survival.

Curiously, violence resulting from cruelty can be actively expressed or can present a disingenuous, passive-like face, as in the torture of the constant water dripping on one's head.

Is there a possibility to put an end to these terror-stricken attacks? Can cruelty be modulated?

The answer is complex. Everyone knows that violence invites violence. In this context, meditation alone wouldn't be enough. The mind can fall apart, while trying to deal with all sorts of provocations it has almost no access to or little control of.

However, as emotions are extremely contagious, anything that is related to an individual can increasingly contaminate small groups and even the masses, when suddenly the pans of the social balance, given motu proprio, oscillate frenetically, endangering the very structure of the balance.

Wouldn't it be sensible to detect this evil as soon as it is foreshadowed instead of resorting to indifference, cynicism, hypocrisy, lies, manipulation?

I believe this answer will depend on the directions to be faced, be they individual, collective, national or international.

Violations of any kind are not indefinitely tolerated and can bring about disastrous consequences. It would be naive to suppose that in a short/medium/long term one could benefit from this modus operandi. Terrorism brings incalculable losses on all levels.

Brainstorming this article in Portuguese Copyright 2005, by Maria Helena Rowell (03.03.02)