In The Cult of Osama, Psychiatrist Peter Olsson examines Osama bin Laden's early life experiences and explains, from a psychoanalytical perspective, how those created a mind filled with perverse rage at America, as well as why his way of thinking makes bin Laden in many cases a hero to Arab and Muslim youths. Many other writings totally demonize bin Laden, and therein strangely play into putting this troubled man onto a pedestal, says Olsson, who spent 25 years on a social psychological and psychoanalytical study of destructive cults and cult leaders. There are many journalistic, political, military, and intelligence books about bin Laden and his terror cult group. But this one offers a purely psychological and psychobiographical perspective on bin Laden and his mushrooming influence. Bin Laden's destructive Pied Piper appeal, leading youths to murder others and even themselves in suicide missions, stems from the peculiar and profoundly important synchrony of shared trauma and pain between bin Laden and Arab/Muslim youth, says Olsson. And we in the West neglect this topic, at our own peril.
Among the insights Olsson provides as he traces the psychological threads of narcissistic wounds and unresolved grief from Osama's childhood are the death of his father when Osama was 10, separation from his mother even earlier, the humiliation of Osama as the son of a slave in his father's household, and his lifelong search for a surrogate older brother and father figures among radical Islamist teachers and mentors. Olsson also spotlights the idea that Osama experienced dark epiphanies as a young adult which further magnified and focused his unresolved disappointments and narcissistic rage. This psychobiography of one of the world's most notorious terrorists, written by an Assistant Professor at Dartmouth Medical School, shows how understanding the psychohistory and mindset of bin Laden could help prevent the development and actions of home-grown American and Western terrorists and their cells.
About the Author
PETER ALAN OLSSON, M.D., is a Psychiatrist at Monadnock Community Hospital, an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Dartmouth Medical School, and an Adjunct Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine. He practiced Psychiatry and Psychotherapy in Houston for 25 years and in New Hampshire for eight years. His training and residency was completed at Baylor College of Medicine.
Table of ContentsAcknowledgments ix
Introduction: Why Study the Minds of Osama Bin Laden and Islamists? 1
In Search of His Mother/Father/Himself: Osama's Early Losses and Narcissistic Wounds, the Stuff of Islamist Leaders' Charisma 17
Osama's Perpetual Search for Father/Brother Replacement Figures: Soul Brothers in Terror 27
Osama Bin Laden's Dark Epiphany as Prototype of Islamist Leaders' Pathological Narcissism 55
How Osama and Company Become Heroes to Muslim Youth Via Manipulation of the Wounded Group-Self 64
Suicide Bombers: Psychodynamic Perspectives on Osama and Company's Foot Soldiers 80
The Children of Terror and Martyrdom: The Self-Psychological Soil and Roots of Osama and Company's Future Recruits 89
Osama and Company's Apocalyptic Scenarios and Rebellious Group Martyrdom in Terror Cults 95
How a Psychiatrist Might Diagnose Bin Laden and Company 101
More Hopeful World Views and Approaches to Social Justice Than Those of Osama and Company's Islamofascism 108