Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Willing to Die: Palestinian suicide bombers

Psychological Factors

Undoubtedly psychological factors play a role in motivating suicide terrorists. However, exactly how and to what degree is not clear. Rex A. Hudson points out in The Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism: Who Becomes a Terrorist and Why? that it is important to take into account a variety of factors when attempting to understand why someone becomes a   bomber. He suggested that social, economic, political, economic, biological or physiological factors could all play a significant role in the shaping of that persons behavior.

Some psychologists believe that suicide terrorists may suffer from one of a series of personality disorders. However, even though some   bombers may exhibit characteristics of a disorder, it does not necessarily mean they have one. In actuality, there are too few suicide bombers available to psychologically measure and diagnose. A lack of evidence makes it is difficult to find one or more common personality traits.

Neurological and psychological problems could also be an explanation. There is a great deal of research that suggests that an imbalance of brain hormones or physical brain abnormalities could result in extreme aggressive behavior. Yet, once again such hypotheses are difficult to confirm when there are so few people to study. Thus, psychologists, for the time being are left to guess why suicide terrorists do what they do.

There are many who refute the contention that suicide terrorists suffer from any psychological problems or disorders at all. They believe that they are, in fact, mentally sound, quite rational and are fully aware of their goals and are able to effectively pursue them

One factor that suicide terrorists seem to share is an extreme need to become a part of a group. This    neediness to belong and be accepted has been linked with low self-esteem. Moreover, those with a low self-esteem are more likely to be swayed by the group mentality or leader.

Another common denominator is intense anger and even hate for Israelis. In fact, most suicide terrorists that have been interviewed before their attacks have indicated that revenge motivates them --. revenge for the death, maiming or humiliation of a loved one by the Israelis.

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