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The typical psychological profile of the terrorist

The typical psychological profile of the terrorist

May 7, 2021

Every time there is a terrorist attack everyone asks the same thing: "How have you been able to do something like this?" Is it necessary to have some kind of psychopathology to perform this type of acts? What profile do these people have? How is someone capable of losing his life for an ideal?

The factor of apparent irrationality of terrorists is what most confuses the victims, who fail to find logical explanations in the actions taken.

Terrorism and mental illness: myth or reality?

To begin with, it is important to know that there is no proper mental disorder for these people from the point of view of clinical psychology. They are not psychopaths. Therefore, in the legal sense they are totally attributable persons from the legal point of view. They are aware of their actions, both in responsibility and in the ability to govern their will. However, some psychologists talk about social or political pathology. They usually lack feelings of guilt because of their beliefs. They are considered martyrs. In them, the dichotomous thinking , that is, "either you are with me or you are against me".


His ability to kill or lose his own life may be due to historical or ideological background, promises of ascension to paradise, social ratification or simply welfare for him and / or his family. The intention of the terrorist goes far beyond simple multiple murder. Your goal includes causing the psychological effect of chaos, producing helplessness, hopelessness, terror , fear, insecurity. The terrorist believes that he has a purpose, he can even consider himself as a savior of society.

The typical profile of the terrorist

The profile is usually a young boy, between 20 and 35 years old . The difficulties of social adaptation of these generations, can favor these challenging acts that reach the point of giving life for some values, without this supposes a psychiatric disorder in itself. They are usually children of immigrants who now live in the West, but who have not managed to adapt (or have not left us) in the Western system.


They are not different from us. In fact, human beings in extreme situations are able to perform this type of activity with absolute normality. An example? The World Wars or the Spanish Civil War. Not to mention social and political situations like the Nazi Holocaust. In them you could get to kill the neighbor for the simple fact of being on the other side. This is where the concept of social categorization, where categorizing makes us "us" and "them".

As for the group, there are group pressures and group perceptual distortions. An overgeneralization occurs, in which everything revolves around your beliefs and thoughts . Their ideology can come to dominate what they do and what they think. They consider their superior group and the need to deserve control and power. They feel their group status, they have moral, religious or nationalist ties.


Ideology, dogmatism and derealization

They undergo a process of disconnection of reality slowly, as well as a loss of empathy with their victims . They have strong feelings of belonging and group cohesion. They are individuals who do not act in isolation and individually. Within the group, the personal needs that society has not provided are met. They provide values, motivations, and even hope. As well as the possibility of playing a role in group actions. All this can even lead to the recognition and prestige that they have never had, becoming an existential motivation and a search for group acceptance.

The group covers their communication needs, to be heard. So that they end up creating ideas shared in the group and therefore reinforcing the cohesion of the members. That supposes greater group identification, greater obedience, due to the need to continue belonging to the group and even the possibility of carrying out some type of behavior that produces visible results within society to show its commitment to "theirs".

Fanaticism and the psychological factors that trigger it

It can come to appear in moments of maximum pressure what in psychology is called "tunnel vision", that is, in a situation of danger or high activity, together with physical and mental pressure, the vision is simply focused on some object common or danger that arises (in this case it would be Western society). Hierarchies, discipline or respect for authority are some of the group norms that are established.The same group pressure demands the absence of doubts and criticism.

The subject, sometimes, he considers himself a victim of the system, showing severe identity problems . Many are born in the West, where they do not feel integrated. They do not feel neither one side nor the other. This, together with social networks, favors the recruitment of young people who need to obtain an identity, a future, a meaning to their life.

Are they fanatics? Can be. Westerners are also. We also bomb their cities without any problem, for the simple fact of being "them" and not "us". Do not confuse all this with a brainwashing. The simple feeling of belonging can provoke a radicalization of the subjects, a great basic example are the radicals of the soccer teams.

Definitely, the suicide bomber is made, not born .


Criminal Profile of a Terrorist (May 2021).


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