In the days after 9/11, Abigail R. Esman walked the streets of New York haunted by a feeling that was eerily familiar: the trauma of violence that hovered in the air. Friends, family, and strangers moved, walked, even stood as she herself had done earlier as a victim of domestic battery and abuse. Since then, Esman, a journalist who specializes in writing on terrorism and radicalization, has studied the connections between domestic abuse and terrorism and the forces that inspire both forms of violence. In Rage: Narcissism, Patriarchy, and the Culture of Terrorism Esman brings into focus the complex web that ties them together, illuminating the terrorist psyche and the cultures that create it.
With this new approach to understanding terrorism and violence, Esman presents clear explanations of pathological narcissism and its roots in shame-honor cultures—both familial and sociopolitical—through portraits of terrorists and batterers, including O. J. Simpson, Osama bin Laden, Anders Breivik, and Dylann Roof. The insights of psychiatrists, former white supremacists, Islamist terrorists, national security experts, and others elaborate her thesis, while Esman’s own experiences with abuse and the aftermath of 9/11 on the streets of New York City further enrich the narrative.
At a time when so many lives are threatened by public violence and terrorism, understanding the forces that incite them has become crucial, and finding solutions, urgent. Esman proposes social and policy initiatives aimed at reducing violence while engendering social equality and enriching women’s rights. Such proposals, she argues, are essential to overcoming the cultural and political forces that hinder progress toward security and peace. This groundbreaking book sheds new light on the roots of violence and terrorism while advancing proactive measures to protect our values and traditions of justice, equality, and freedom.