Why young men become terrorists and join ISIS


by Dorian Fortuna

Human instincts in modern society

Conclusion: The Trend is Growing

Some experts affirm that the young men who commit suicidal terrorist attacks could suffer from a maniacal delirium; they are enveloped in a psychotic euphoria, they become extremely attached to the ideas that are inoculated in their heads and have a deformed impression about their own importance. The delirium could cause, at a certain moment, uncontrollable actions and violence taken to the extreme [17]. 

Maybe this is true for some cases, but, nonetheless, it is important for us to understand that most terrorists are mentally normal people, although they do have a different ideological and religious way of seeing the world [Delcea, Bădulescu, 2008; Post, 2008]. 

Most of the time the act of adhering to an extremist and terrorist group is not a sign of any mental disorder, but rather a consequence of a set of abilities, frames of mind and inclinations of a person. Young men become extremists and terrorists because they live in a social and psychological climate that can induce them the desire to adhere to a group of people with radical visions [Borum, 2014]. 

The desire of gaining a sense of one’s own existence, of being important inside a “brotherhood”, of experiencing exciting and deliberately dangerous moments, of living above the social norms and the formalities of simple life, of being always vigilant and of having an interesting and “adrenalinic” life, not a simple one, are the main fuel of those who decide to adhere to different radical groups. Many instinctual and emotional fulfillments are possible there, even if for a short period of time [18] [Silke, 2008; Kruglanski et al., 2014]. This is how we end up with armies of young men who are raised in democratic societies but who are fascinated by extremism and terrorism. 

The desire to experience exciting moments is at the core of a lot of decisions and acts that seem to be strange on the first sight. Some people venture into visiting the abandoned and radioactive Chernobyl (Ukraine); others practice extreme tourism, which is full of dangers, shortcomings and tests. Brits, for instance, buy tickets for Syria, Mali, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other countries, so that they could be near the outbreaks of military conflicts [19]. 

Boredom can induce some young men to announce false bomb alarms [20], or even create homemade bombs. People feel the need to test their nerves, to experience new feelings, to manifest their instincts that had been inhibited for a long time. And, in some cases, they choose to adhere even to extremist movements. It’s a growing tendency. 

Therefore, a democratic society must make possible a wide range of behavioral models that would allow for the realization of different emotions and instincts in a harmless way. In a society, young men must also find enough morally and ideologically balanced guidelines that would fascinate and inspire them or otherwise they will find them in radical and warlike movements. 

In addition, an important factor in the moderation of intra-group conflicts is the socio-cultural diversification. The multitude of social entities from within a socium increases the variety of groups (associations, clubs, parties, formations, teams, leagues, guilds, syndicates) with which an individual can identify himself. 

This way, in a democracy, the number of social conflicts can multiply on a line of rivalry between some entities (e.g. the competition between different teams or parties), but these are less acute than the eventual ethnical identity conflicts; the general expression of men’s agonistic instincts would be sequenced in several dimensions. It’s better for us to have more minor conflicts than one or several major ones. 

Conflicts, any way you slice it, are inevitable; but it does matter which one we encourage. For now, however, radical ideologies and extremist movements seem to be much more attractive for young men. And this is a problem that could forever torpedo the stability of the 21st century.

Do read the rest of the article/very incisive:
Copyright © Dorian Furtuna


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