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While this article series is primarily concerned with explaining militant martyrdom among Palestinian males, it must be noted and was previously alluded to, that harsh conditions existed years prior to the first incident of militant martyrdom. As stated previously, the Palestinian Authority’s martyrdom campaign has explanatory power here. The ES-FT model explains it in the following manner. Palestinians, prior to the martyrdom campaign, where in a positive ego strength state. ES-FT’s suggestion that Palestinians, while exhibiting positive ego strength state in a frustrating environment, would have a tendency toward militancy, but not militant martyrdom. Support for this can be found in the relative lack of martyrdom acts throughout their history prior to the mass martyrdom campaign initiated in 2001, and the subsequent significant rise in attacks. Drawing on the psychoanalytic concept of projection, this author hypothesizes that Palestinians where able to maintain a strong sense of self by projecting their internal and external frustrations onto their oppressors, the Israelis. However, with the launch of the martyrdom campaign, Palestinians were being told that their lives were worthless unless they engaged in militant martyrdom. Previously, their lives had worth if they fought and lived to fight another day. This created a state of emotional dissonance and a psychological re-awakening to inter-group frustrations and abuses. This re-awakening has resulted in a reassessment of their self-identity, self-worth, and self-determination and caused a move toward the negative pole of the positive-negative ego strength continuum. However, the motives for engaging in militant martyrdom may certainly be different for the individual than for the group, as a whole, that promotes it.
Winkates (2006) confirms that there is a distinction of motivation between the militant martyr, himself, and the sponsoring group. He suggests that national interests, in which case suicide bombings might be seen simply as a means to an end, motivate the sponsoring organization. Additionally, he describes the martyr as being spurred on by a combination of psychological, religious, and social motives. Further, the reviewed literature does indeed point directly to psychological distress, including an inhibited sense of self, as a major contributor to the development of militant martyrs. More importantly, it points to psychological victimization by both the Israelis and the Palestinian directly as the source of this distress and subsequent culture of martyrdom.
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|While a number of theories have been proposed to explain the existence of militant martyrdom cultures, one stands out. Frustration-aggression theory answers in part the question of how and why a culture of martyrdom has developed in the Palestinian Territories among males. However, it does not provide a complete explanation as pointed out above. The author has gone to great lengths to try a fill in the missing holes. Specifically, the author has demonstrated through a review of the literature that there exists a cultural or systemic problem of psychological abuse inflicted on the populace beginning at a very young age. This abuse has been inflicted in numerous ways, all with the same effect. It is this author’s contention that a frustrating environment, one in which the socioeconomic and religious expectations of the populace are not met, combined with systemic psychological traumatization, resulting from oppression, humiliation, child abuse, misogyny, abusive social influence and control techniques, etc., sufficiently promote a culture of militant martyrdom. Further, an individual’s potential for choosing a path of martyrdom can be assessed by looking at the interaction of frustration and the extent to which the individual has been impacted by psychological victimization, that is to say, their ego strength.|
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Neglect, Misogyny, and Borderline Personality
There is some speculation that the culture of militant martyrdom may stem from the abuse of children at an early age. Militant martyrdom has been described as a result of children being reared in authoritarian fundamentalist familial systems (Kaganovskiy, 2003). Kaganovskiy ultimately explains the phenomenon of terrorism (in this case militant martyrdom) by a lack of empathy by the terrorist. This lack of empathy has been developed in childhood as a result of oppression, impoverishment, and suffering.
However, he argues that these conditions are second to repeated abuse and neglect as a child in the development, or rather non-development of empathy. Furthermore, Kaganovskiy suggests, women in these societies are the major perpetrators of the non-development of empathy in children. He suggests that because of the misogynistic environment and brutalization at the hands of males, women lose their ability to empathize. Therefore, women are not capable of teaching their children, particularly male children, empathy and actually become abusive towards their young. (DeMause, 2002; Janowitz, 2006; Kaganovskiy, 2003) Lachkar (2002) added that suicide attackers have developed a borderline personality disorder that developed because of neglectful and abusive child-rearing practices, frustrating dependency needs and viewing individual desires as weakness. She adds that young boys experience anger and resentment as a result. This may cause them to identify with charismatic leaders, adopt misogynistic and oppression ideologies, and disassociate with anything perceived as womanly, including participating in child-rearing practices (Berko & Erez, 2005; DeMause, 2002; Lachkar, 2002; Steiner, 1974). Thus, the cycle is perpetuated. Bardis (1973) additionally notes that physical violence is most commonly found those with lower social status and lower levels of education. As previously pointed out, there appears to be little positive correlation between poverty and support for terrorist acts (Krueger & Maleckova, 2002). However, this may provide some rationale for the support that is found among low SES Palestinians.
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According to Hudson (1999), terrorist groups, including those that endorse militant martyrdom, have similarities with religious cults:
They require total commitment by members; they often prohibit relations with outsiders, although this may not be the case with ethnic or separatist terrorist groups whose members are well integrated into the community; they regulate and sometimes ban sexual relations; they impose conformity; they seek cohesiveness through interdependence and mutual trust; and they attempt to brainwash individual members with their particular ideology. (p. 35)
Leaders of terrorist organizations, secular and religious alike, much like those of religious cults, are typically charismatic, enigmatic, authoritarian figures, possibly with psychosis and/or a clinically paranoid personality disorder (Hamilton-Hart, 2005; Lester et al, 2004; Lester, et al, 2004). These figures exhibit strong influential abilities.
Walsh (2001) outlines the trade techniques used by many cults to control their members. One technique Walsh discusses is milieu control in which communications to and from the outside world are controlled by the group leader. Mystical manipulation, another tool used by cult leaders, involves the leader using "extensive personal manipulation" to elicit desired behaviors, including dependency (p. 122). Indeed, some research suggests that suicide attackers are often chosen because of the ease in which they submit to religious indoctrination (Coney, 2003). Prime candidates reportedly consist of immature and troubled youth with few social connections and an absence of meaning in life (Crenshaw, 1988; Laqueur, 1987; Lester, et al, 2004; Stern, 2003). Plous and Zimbardo (2004) further claim that groups attempt to screen out those that do not prove susceptible to the propaganda and manipulation of the group leaders. Demand for purity, another control technique, divides the world into good and evil as defined by the group itself. In this vain, Islamic teachings seek to instill at a very early age the unquestioning obedience to Allah and the calls for purity by religious authority (Post, 2005). A somewhat related technique is the dispensing of existence, in which a line is drawn determining who has a right to live and who does not (Post, 2005; Walsh, 2001). Additional techniques include the sacred science where members are taught that deeper understanding comes from extensive training and unquestioning of group doctrine and loading the language where new meanings of terminology are established to suit the goals of the group (Walsh, 2001). An example of loading the language can be seen in the modification of the Islamic word jihad by the World Islamic Front for Jihad Against the Jews and Crusaders (Knapp, 2003). Another example is the substitution of “martyrdom” for “suicide” (Post, 2005).
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Martyrdom is by no means a new concept. In Arabic-Islamic society, the idea of terrorism, or the intentional instillation of fear in the masses, using militant-martyrs appeared in the 11th century in the form of a Shi'i Islam sect known as the Nizari Isma'ilis, or Assassins (Campbell, 2004; Hudson, 1999; Kermani, 2002; Kjeilen, 2003). The Assassins would perform public political murders with nothing more than a dagger so that the act would be well known. In most cases, his target’s bodyguards would immediately kill the Assassin. According to Kjeilen (2003), the Assassins were instrumental in turning terrorism into an Islamic religious duty.
According to Hashhash (2006), “martyrdom is an everyday event that continues to perpetuate itself in Palestine and its representation is a frequent visual motif in Palestinian art, media, and life.” Still, martyrs have been heralded in every religion and every corner of the earth, not just Palestine. However, in recent times, militant martyrdom has almost become synonymous with radical Islam, if not Islam in general, in the minds of some Westerners. After all, Muslim society has endorsed associated tactics. For example, the Shi'ite martyrdom zeitgeist resulted in Iranian soldiers rushing forward into Iraqi mine fields during the Iran-Iraq War (Kermani, 2002). Further, many who were killed or injured were children and teenagers. This same culture of martyrdom opened the door in 1983 for a member of Hezbollah to commit a suicide bombing for the first time in Lebanon (Kermani, 2002).
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|The psychology of martyrdom is a growing area of interest in today’s world. The need for viable means of confronting, addressing, and ultimately preventing the development of cultures of martyrdom is increasingly drawing the attention of world governments. The following six-part article series, entitled Ego Strength-Frustration Tendencies (ES-FT): Toward a model of predicting militant martyrdom by examining the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” reviews relevant literature on the topic of martyrdom. Four typologies of martyrdom are defined, with militant martyrdom (i.e., suicide attacks) serving as the focus of the article series. The author reviews different perspectives of the etiology of militant martyrdom, reviews the literature, and concludes that frustration-aggression theory and the effects of systemic psychological victimization best explain this phenomenon. The author further proposes an ego strength-frustration tendencies (ES-FT) model for predicting the tendency toward related social roles based on the interaction of ego strength and frustration. The article series concludes with a discussion of the advantages, disadvantages, and implications of ES-FT. A complete reference list is provided at the conclusion of the series.|
For Article One of the series, click HERE
|It was a sunny Tuesday morning when the call came over the two-way radio: “Special Housing to Dr. Smith.” “Go for Dr. Smith,” I replied. “Phone 20?” requested the voice over the radio. After providing my phone extension I received the call informing me that my presence was needed in the Special Housing Unit (SHU) where an inmate had taken his cell mate hostage and was threatening to kill him unless he was placed in a cell by himself. The inmate had somehow managed to tie his cell mate up to the bunk bed frame with torn sheets and had several razor blades taken from disposable razors give to him to shave. As far as hostage negotiations go, this one was pretty straight forward... |
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|Stories of sexual deviance and sexual criminal offenses have run rampant in today’s media. From Congressmen to the average person in the general population, the prevalence of socially unacceptable behavior of a sexual nature seems to be ever increasing and occupying the front pages of our news outlets and tabloid gossip columns. But what is the cause of sexual deviance? In this article, the author proposes that sexually deviant behavior is a by-product of our cultural confusion over sexuality. Additionally, while a technical definition of deviant behavior may be any behavior that is “outside the norm” of socially acceptable behavior, for the purpose of this discussion, “sexual deviance” is loosely defined as sexual behavior that is on the verge of or crosses the line into criminal behavior....|
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On January 8, 2011, a disturbed young man approached a public gathering, shot and killed six individuals and left fourteen others injured. Among the injured, and suspected prime target of the violence, was a U.S. Congresswoman who was shot point blank in the head. Five months later, Jared Lee Loughner, the accused attacker, was ruled unfit for trial...
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|Imagine your 4-year-old daughter vanishes without a trace. You take your story to the police who call a press conference seeking leads from the public. Two days later, you are arrested as the prime suspect in the disappearance of your child. When interrogated by the police, they indicate you became the main suspect after Facebook and Twitter posts were picked up by the local media...|
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