Combined with developments in 20
century technology, such groups eventually began toemploy the more sophisticated terrorist tactics of today. Guerilla style terrorist campaigns becameever‐present, in part due to the growth of the weapons industry and illegal arms trade .Additional advancements in mass communication afforded groups greater spheres of influence,epitomized by the highly publicized 1968 El‐Al hijacking and 1972 Munich Massacre. Overall, theinfluence of such socio‐political factors as imperialism and weapons proliferation is rather telling inexplaining terrorism’s role as a politically, rather than psychologically, rooted medium of violence.
The Psychology of Terror
Understanding the evolving historical usage of terrorism, a majority of psychologicalliterature has actually shied away from a pathological explanation for terrorism . Scholars arguethat if terrorism were indeed a psychological case it would necessitate some sort of
‐based pathology. Terrorism’s ever‐evolving use across history by various races and creeds hencedefies such a clear‐cut pathological profile. Even studies on Palestinian suicide bombers have foundno pattern of mood disorders, instances of substance abuse, or suicide‐related risk factors in thebombers’ pasts . Though some terrorist behavior may indeed be due to mental defect or abuse,
it is more likely that any pathology is an acquired condition— similar to combat‐prone soldiers whoacquire ASPD like symptoms .
Still, the dearth of documented pathology in terrorism is quitelogical, as psychological instability would be a detriment to a terrorist operation that requiresdedication, perseverance, and selflessness.
Hence in understanding the political and psychological dimensions of terrorism, it wouldseem that terrorism actually operates in a
capacity, rather than a pathological one.
According to noted sociologists, terrorism is a quite comprehensible, though certainlyunconventional, behavior that follows an autonomous logic of clear objectives . The objectivecould be immediate and localized, as with the Umkhonto we Sizwe that fought apartheid in SouthAfrica, or more far‐reaching, as with Al‐Qaeda and its purported goal of driving out Western
In earlier psychological accounts of terrorism, it was common to label terrorist behavior as a byproduct child abuse.Though this theory has largely fallen out of favor, abuse during adulthood, such as lengthy incarceration periods, is notedto be a mild predictor for terrorist activity .
It is fairly common for terrorists to be portrayed as suffering from antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), given thestereotypes that they are socially alienated, aggressive, and action‐oriented. Though some terrorists may actually haveASPD, the overwhelming majority of academics have shown that this is not the norm .
Notable exceptions do exist. The Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and Mad Bomber George Metesky are purported to havebeen clinically insane. Still, scrutiny of these individual actors is outside of the scope of this paper, as this paper focuseson terrorists who operate in a group dynamic.
Terrorism by definition is the pursuit of a political goal through violent mechanisms. If a terrorist group were not pursuing a clearly defined and
, it would be nothing more than a criminal organization.