Terrorism and Mental Illness: Is There a Relationship?

  • Weatherston D
  • Moran J
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Abstract

This article examines the connections between mental illness and terrorism. Most social scientists have discounted a causal relationship between mental illness and terrorism. This is not necessarily always the case within terrorism studies, the media, or political circles where the psychology of terrorism is often expressed in the language of mentalisms, and theories of pathologisation continue to exist. This article reaffirms the view that apart from certain pathological cases, there is no causal connection between an individual's mental disorder and engagement in terrorist activity. The individual terrorist's motivations can be explained by other factors, including behavioural psychology. However, there may be a connection between an individual engaging in terrorist activity and developing a mental disorder[s]. Certain stressors that occur because of terrorist activity may result in psychological disturbance in terrorist individuals. These factors may partially explain terrorist group instability and should be taken into account when detaining and interrogating terrorist suspects.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Mental illness
  • Terrorism
  • Terrorist psychology

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Authors

  • David Weatherston

  • Jonathan Moran

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