UNDERSTANDING VIOLENCE: THE THERAPEUTIC RELATIONSHIP
Acts of violence by individuals and terrorist groups have increased and continue to shock us. A better understanding is required to break the cycle of crime and punishment. A psychoanalytic perspective offers a window into the human psyche behind these atrocious acts. More recent treatment models reflect a more empathic understanding beyond the more aloof traditional Freudian perspective.
An International Conference in Belfast, Ireland met to discuss the origins and treatment of aggression and violence from a psychoanalytic perspective. The challenge was to overcome simplistic notions of good and evil with a better understanding. An important emphasis was to encourage the ability to think, to develop thought in place of action. Treatment of violent individuals is difficult and lengthy.
The social and political aspects of terrorism were discussed in the context of group psychology in which a regression to an earlier stage of development occurs. The individuals identify with the leader with dehumanization of the other. The group demands justice and retaliation to deal with feelings of shame and humiliation.