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Article : Are Terrorists, By Definition, Psychotic?

le 18 janvier 2016

[Medscape] When people behave in an extreme and violent manner, it is tempting to assume that they must be "crazy" or "mentally ill." So when we view the violent atrocities of groups like the Islamic State ("ISIS"), we may imagine that the perpetrators are "psychotic" or severely disturbed. But there is little evidence to support this notion, and most research on terrorism doesn't point to severe mental illness as a significant causal factor.

Of course, the definitions of "terrorism" and "terrorist" are highly contested. Indeed, psychiatrist Jeff Victoroff, MD, associate professor of clinical neurology and psychiatry at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine in Torrance, California, suggests that "there are roughly as many available definitions as there are published experts in the field." Furthermore, as Victoroff notes, any effort to uncover the "terrorist mind" will more likely result in uncovering "a spectrum of terrorist minds." Nevertheless, if we can agree that most terrorists are persons who use violence against noncombatants in order to advance a particular political, psychological, or ideologic goal, we can then begin to explore the mindset of specific types of terrorists. For example, terrorism expert Jerrold Post, MD, professor of psychiatry, political psychology, and international affairs at the Elliott School of International Affairs in Washington, DC, distinguishes between "nationalist-separatist terrorism" (eg, that of the Irish Republican Army) and "religious-extremist terrorism"—a subset of which is "suicide terrorism" of the sort we witnessed recently in Paris.

Source Medscape