This paper attempts to develop a psychological perspective on the phenomenon of terrorism while attending to the epistemological traps inherent in this kind of endeavour. Etymological, mythological, historical and psychological examinations of terrorism and panic enable the emergence of key characteristics – polarization and indiscriminateness – and a split between reality and imagination. The concept of a unipolar archetype is developed to account for the dark fascination and gripping power of these phenomena. The numinous nature of unipolar archetypal possession is identified and dis- cussed.

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