While nothing is easier than to denounce the evildoer, nothing is harder than to understand him.
(Fyodor Mihailovich Dostoevsky, The Possesse)

Nowadays, people talk and raise concern about terrorism and people scare of terrorism(list of terrorist organisations); however, many people do not understand terrorism’s motivation, and why people become terrorists and how victims cope with their life after experiencing the events. For this reason, I would like to create a blog to give the public general ideas of terrorism. The series will cover topics such as:


Psychology of Terrorism

This is the last post of this series about terrorism. I am going to use this post to explain and review what the series have written in five weeks.

I have stated in my introduction of this series that it will introduce and give people general knowledge about terrorism. In order to know “terrorism” it is necessary to understand terms “terrorism, and terrorist”. This is a very basic knowledge which anyone wants to understand terrorism need to know. Once the one understands this term, he may be able to go further to study more about terrorism. Therefore, the series spent the first post writing “What is terrorism, and who is terrorists?”. Besides, while the scope of this tasking required a focus on psychological factors, form a comprehensive explanation for terrorism. I realized that:

There are many factors at the macro and micro level that affect political violence generally, and terrorism specifically. Indeed, “there is substantial agreement that the psychology of terrorism cannot be considered apart from political, historical, familial, group dynamic, organic, and even purely accidental, coincidental factors” (Freid, 1982). For this reason, I had chosen to write something relevant to the above topics (How and why do people enter, stay in terrorist organizations; Pathway to terrorism…)

Inn addition, while there are other researches which seem to focus almost exclusively in some way on “why” individuals become terrorists or engage in terrorism, the research questions in this realm, informed by a degree of experience, became more focused and more functional. However, social and operational observations of numerous terrorist and extremist groups, suggest that recruitment and involvement typically do not occur in that way. According to Horgan and Taylor (2001) “What we know of actual terrorists suggests that there is rarely a conscious decision made to become a terrorist. Most involvement in terrorism results from gradual exposure and socialisation towards extreme behavior.” Therefore, instead of seeking an answer for the question of “why an individual becomes a terrorist”, the series wants to know the reasons for “why terrorists persist despite the risks involved and the uncertainty of reward” (Crenshaw, 1986). And in the second post “how and why do people enter, stay in terrorist organization”, the study have recognized three factors - injustice, identity, and belonging – which have been found often to co-occur in terrorists and to strongly influence decisions to enter terrorist organizations and to engage in terrorist activity. Moreover, it is an important to know concepts such as “the need to belong, the need to have a stable identity”, which helps explain the similarity in behavior of terrorists in groups of with widely different espoused motivations and composition.

Consequently, as I mentioned above by getting an idea from Freid (1982) “there is substantial agreement that the psychology of terrorism cannot be considered apart from political, historical, familial, group dynamic, organic, and even purely accidental, coincidental factors.” I used my third post to present the process of becoming a terrorist. It supplied models which provided by Hacker and Shaw may suit to explain the path to terrorism of many terrorists.

After third post, I used to plan to spend following post discussing terrorists’ personality. However, after doing some researches, I learnt that there is no terrorists’ personality (Crenshaw, 2001; Borum, 1999; Taylor & Quayle, 1994). Thus, instead of discussing terrorist’s personality, I provided some experts’ ideas about terrorist’s personality. Besides, by looking at an individual’s life experiences, the study found out that certain life experiences tend to be commonly found among terrorists. Histories of childhood abuse and trauma appear to be widespread. And themes of perceived injustice and humiliation often are prominent in terrorist biographies and personal histories. Those factors may be important to understand terrorists, that why study decided to write about.

When researching and writing about terrorism, I realized that terrorism is a very broad subject which this series for many reasons can not cover, for example: ability, time, word limit etc. Therefore, the series chose to write an aspect of subject which has just discussed above. However, my ambitious in this series is also giving public a few ideas about victims of terrorism, especially psychology aspect. Therefore, in week five I have explored some of the psychological affect of terrorism on their victims, especially Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). And it also supported information from past incidents, for instance 9/11 US terrorist attack. The research has shown that deliberate violence creates longer lasting mental health effects than natural disasters or accidents. The consequences for both individuals and the community are prolonged, and survivors often feel that injustice has been done to them. This can lead to anger, frustration, helplessness, fear, and a desire for revenge. The post also gave some advices which may help and prevent victims form bad affects of terrorism.

In conclusion, I hope that this series help people more aware of terrorism. And it had given useful information which readers may need to understand more about terrorism.


Horgan, J. and Taylor, M. (2001),The making of a terrorist . Jane's Intelligence Review. 13(12), (pp 16-18)

Crenshaw, M. (1986). The psychology of political terrorism. In M.G. Hermann (Ed.) Political psychology: contemporary problems and issues (pp.379-413). London: Josey-Bass

Fried, R.(1982). The psychology of the terrorist. Jenkins, B. M., Ed. Terrorism and beyond: An international conference on terrorism and low-level conflict (pp. 119-124). Santa Monica, CA: Rand.

Borum, R., Fein, R., Vossekuil, B., & Berglund, J. (1999). Threat assessment: Defining an approach for evaluating risk of targeted violence. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 17(3), (pp 323-337).