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1. Introduction

Terrorism and mental illness may be associated in the consequences generated in some persons due to their involvement in terrorist activity. The routine of operating in secret and undertaking homicidal underground activities is perilous and nerve-racking. Indications of pathology may constitute an expected reaction within the conditions and not characteristic of a disorder. If the occurrence of mental disorders is identified in a terrorist, the mental disorder may not be the determinant of terrorist activity. (Weatherston and Moran, 2003)

2. The Connection between Mental Illness and Lone-Actor Terrorists

There is a more powerful connection between mental illness and lone-actor terrorists (Radulescu, 2017) than the former and group-based ones. The relevant link between mental illness and having a mate involved in a broader movement indicates that individuals with mental illness may be prone to ideological dominations (Petcu, 2017) in their proximal social setting. Individuals with a history of mental illness are no more inclined to have a connection with social seclusion than ones without. Lone participants having a history of mental illness are more presumably connected with single-issue dogmas than al-Qaeda guided or extreme right-wing ones. The former are more commonly zeroed in on a target that they perceive as specifically guilty for their cause of distress. Individuals with a mental illness are linked to claiming culpability forthrightly and to conveying an eagerness to hurt others. Such persons are not more expected to have an unlawful history that ones without any history, but tend to be aggressive. They are also more inclined to get involved in particular precursory events and conducts (Nica, 2016) that security and policing agencies may use to scrutinize and impede additional advancements in attack plotting. (Corner and Gill, 2015) (Figures 1-4)

3. Terrorists as Rational Participants

Terrorists are rational participants: their undertakings are instrumental, signifying adequate mechanisms for the accomplishment of their political objective. Political activity is driven by series of intensely held convictions, or ideology, which influences the specific acts, establishing the participants' personal identity (Popescu, 2016a): all coherent action is in conformity with plans, as all rational participants before all else think and afterward act. (Greenfeld, 2013) Terrorists who are subject to meticulous psychiatric evaluation are inspected under conditions of detention, and thus the circumstances of their arrest and incarceration in generating mental disorder should be analyzed. Such effects should be considered when making a psychological evaluation of terrorists. The parameters of terrorist habits, interrogation, and detention may give rise to a variety of symptoms that may be suggestive of underlying pathology (Nica et al., 2016) but which may constitute a natural response to extreme conditions. The terrorist habits may create the structural circumstances whereby a relevant amount of persons develop short- or long-run mental health issues of fluctuating intensity. In any terrorist community there are persons who break down, as numerous nonpathological people would (Nica and Potcovaru, 2015), to mental health issues, others who remain normal (Popescu, 2017), and others who display pathological trends that may clarify their engagement in terrorism. (Weatherston and Moran, 2003)
Figure 4 Countries with the highest number of deaths by terrorism

Iraq                      30.5%
Nigeria                   21.3%
Afghanisthan              13.9%
Pakistan                   5.5%
Syria                      5.3%
Somalia                    2.4%
Ukraine                    2.1%
Yemen                      1.9%
Central African Republic   1.7%
South Suden                1.6%
Rest of the world         12.3%

Sources: Global Terrorism Index and our estimations

Note: Table made from bar graph.

4. Terrorism as a Mechanism of Mass Psychological Manipulation

Aggressive emotions, e.g. fighting spirit, anger, envy, the fervor to hurt the adversary, tend to go together with combat, being the starting place of terrorist undertakings as they are of military confrontations between two armies, because they are generated by the beliefs driving terrorism primarily and by the fact of involvement in them. "Home-grown jihadists" are juvenile individuals affected by an acute psychological malaise, displayed as dissatisfaction with what a person is and social alienation, commonly presented both with depressive (Pera, 2017a) and schizophreniform disorders, which causes in them aggressive emotions, indignation against both themselves and the climate, and in their endeavor to comprehend these emotions, such persons go for the convenient and striking ideologies, which then clarify their emotions for them and enable them to convey these emotions. Their acts are demonstrative, not instrumental, assisting them in carrying out no objective beyond that. They are not political ones and cannot be typified as terrorist, but being symptoms of an epidemic mental disease. Individuals enthusiastically involved in or with the war on terror characterize it as undertaking of political participants, engaged in a particular political, cruel and armed, dispute, but here the targets of aggression are selected indiscriminately, signifying the enemy party, and not actors in the conflict. (Greenfeld, 2013)

5. Conclusions

Terrorist entities may utilize mentally vulnerable individuals to proliferate terror. To confuse assaults by the mentally ill (Pera, 2017b) with terrorism is to unwittingly do exactly what terrorists want in order for their plans to succeed. Terrorism is the most profitable military strategy, as, at negligible expense to the perpetrator, it frightens millions of individuals, redirects costly military and police resources (Popescu, 2016b), and disorganizes entire economies: its appalling unpredictability makes individuals think that they cannot do much to save themselves from harm, i.e. they feel unmanageable. The last thing a terrorist requires in the carrying out of rigorously-planned undertakings is a mentally-ill operative (Lazaroiu et al., 2017a) who is unstable and undisciplined in following any elaborated scheme. That terrorist would be extremely thankful to any media channel which is concerned to categorize unsystematic acts of aggression as terrorist acts (Lazaroiu et al., 2017b), as this makes a tremendously profitable military strategy more cost-effective via frightening more without any extra costs or preparation. Terrorism is a mechanism of mass psychological manipulation - not only of the terrorists themselves but also of the community of ordinary individuals who are to be scared to death. (Robertson, 2017)


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GHEORGHE H. POPESCU Center for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis at AAER, New York; Dimitrie Cantemir Christian University, Bucharest

FLORIN CRISTIAN CIURLAU Dimitrie Cantemir Christian University, Bucharest

How to cite: Popescu, Gheorghe H., and Florin Cristian Ciurlau (2017). "The Impact of Mental Illness and Psychological Processes on Individuals' Involvement in Terrorist Behaviors," American Journal of Medical Research 4(2): 179-184.

Received 19 June 2017 * Received in revised form 29 September 2017

Accepted 30 September 2017 * Available online 12 October 2017

Caption: Figure 1 Number of terrorist attacks on transportation in North America and Western Europe (1970-2017)

Caption: Figure 2 Deaths from terrorism (2000-2017)

Caption: Figure 3 Number of attacks and deaths for private citizens and property (2000-2017)

Caption: Figure 4 Countries with the highest number of deaths by terrorism (2017)

Please Note: Illustration(s) are not available due to copyright restrictions.
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Author:Popescu, Gheorghe H.; Ciurlau, Florin Cristian
Publication:American Journal of Medical Research
Date:Oct 1, 2017

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