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Thursday, 29 September 2011

The Psychology of Extremism – Are Terrorists Crazy?

When an act of terrorism is reported, the question of what kind of person would do such a thing usually follows. People question what kind of psychological make-up must a person have to even contemplate causing the devastation concurrent with a terrorist attack. Are extremists '
crazy?

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Christian Terrorism: An Uncomfortable Reality?

Although much of the world’s understanding of contemporary religious violence is focused on Islamist activity in the Middle East, religious terrorism is not confined to either.  Militant Christian organisations termed the Christian Right have been active in the West since the mid 1980s, and ‘for years leftist extremists have been saying the worst terrorists are Christians’.[1] Anders Breivik has become the newest poster boy to represent the evils of Christian militancy,[2] and currently, ‘most right-wing terrorism in the United States has a religious (Christian) component’.[3] (There is debate concerning Breivik’s status but Juergensmeyer affirms:  ‘if bin Laden was a Muslim terrorist, Breivik is a Christian terrorist.’)

Sunday, 25 September 2011

What are the Psychological Issues Encountered by Women in the Armed Forces, and How Might they be Resolved?



At present women make up nine percent of the UK’s total military strength, and the number looks set to rise further.[1] Physical injuries are the most obvious effects of warfare, although the number of psychiatric battle casualties is far greater than those killed or physically disabled, and the effects can be equally as devastating. Both men and women in the Forces face the possibility of psychological issues, although recent statistics from the Ministry of Defence show that women in the three main service branches are more than twice as likely to suffer than their male counterparts. Seven in every thousand servicewomen experience symptoms, compared with only three in every thousand males.[2] These findings parallel similar studies on civilian personnel, where women consistently demonstrate higher rates of psychological disturbance than men.

What were the Psychological Symptoms of Combat Experienced by British Soldiers in World War One?

Like every war, World War One (WW1) produced heavy physical and psychological casualties. However, 1914-1918 became known as a watershed period during which, surprisingly ‘vast numbers of psychiatric casualties were observed’,[1] and the number of men needing medical treatment for such problems rose significantly. Medical records reveal that, ‘in the crisis year of 1916, neurasthenia accounted for 40% of causalities in combat zones’[2], and by 1917 it was recognised that sufferers of combat neuroses comprised one seventh of all personnel discharged from the British Army. By armistice this figure had risen to encompass one third of all dismissals,  and the army had dealt with 80,000 cases of shell shock alone.

‘The Real Root Cause of the Threat of Global Salafi-Jihadism is Religious Fundamentalism.’ Is this Statement True?

Salafism is an austere Islamic ideology centred on the belief that a sinful departure from Islam’s rigid roots has occurred, as the religion has been diluted and corrupted by Western ‘immorality’ and concepts including, liberalism, democracy, and nationalism. Salafis strive to live in accordance with literal interpretations of the Qur’an, sunnah and hadiths, and attempt to emulate the piety and ‘perfection’ of the Salaf al-Salih (the first three generations of devout Muslims).[1] They desire a return to the perceived purity of early Islam, and believe that only the recreation of a global umma and Islamic Caliphate, and total implementation of Shari’a law, can ‘counteract the subversion of Islamic values’.[2] Salafi-jihadis attempt to resolve the problems within the Muslim world and establish an Islamic state by implementing a volatile ideological mix of violence, faith, and fanaticism. They see the world ‘in the light of religious doctrine and armed violence’,[3] and use active jihad as their primary method of initiating change.