|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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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.|
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|Download the contraversial article entitled Social Psychology of Alcoholics Anonymous. This article has been the subject of much debate and contention. Read it and provide your comments.|
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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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