Monday, April 1, 2013

The Mind of the Terrorist

           Image from the telegraph

 This article, written by Jeff Victoroff, a part of the Department of Neurology and Psychiatry at the University of Southern California School of Medicine, discusses the current data and theories applied to the psychology of terrorism. Most of the data collected and theories developed are based from case studies and natural observation.
            This article is an accumulation of information from other articles, news reports, and scholarly journals covering information on terrorism. The terrorists as a group are heterogeneous: meaning it is composed of many complicated and different things that all fit under the same catagory. In other words, terrorists range in political categories, hierarchical levels, and roles. Their psychology lies on a spectrum.
            The data covers statistics on the matter, about what percentage of terrorists have experienced loss in the family or any trauma. Unsurprisingly, those with more trauma or were orphaned or abandoned were of a higher percentage in the terrorist spectrum. There is a bias towards more middle to upper class terrorists, and the percentage between right and left wing was mostly equal.
            The theories fall into two generalized categories: bottom-up that explore characteristics of individuals that become terrorists, and top-down approaches that explore where terrorism is threaded politics, society, economically, and evolutionary. The common conception is that terrorists must be clinically insane or psychopathic, but research shows that they rarely meet psychiatric criteria for insanity. More so, they are sociopathic, who are outcasts of society. This raises the question of Terrorism being more so an antisocial behavior.  In reality, they see themselves as heroic “freedom fighters” or “crusaders.”

If you’d like to read the rest of the article, you can find it here.

--Betsy Peterschmidt

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