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Unformatted text preview: The Terrorist as Mentally Ill A common stereotype is that someone who commits such abhorrent acts as planting a bomb on an airliner, detonating a vehicle bomb on a city street, or 27 tossing a grenade into a crowded sidewalk caf is abnormal. The psychopathological (see Glossary) orientation has dominated the psychological approach to the terrorists personality. As noted by Taylor, two basic psychological approaches to understanding terrorists have been commonly used: the terrorist is viewed either as mentally ill or as a fanatic. For Walter Laqueur (1977:125), Terrorists are fanatics and fanaticism frequently makes for cruelty and sadism. This study is not concerned with the lone terrorist, such as the Unabomber in the United States, who did not belong to any terrorist group. Criminologist Franco Ferracuti has noted that there is no such thing as an isolated terroristthats a mental case. Mentally unbalanced individuals have been especially attracted to airplane hijacking. David G. Hubbard (1971) conducted a psychiatric study of airplane hijackers in 1971 and concluded that skyjacking is used by psychiatrically ill patients as an expression of illness. His study revealed that skyjackers shared several common traits: a violent father, often an alcoholic; a deeply religious mother, often a religious zealot; a sexually shy, timid, and passive personality; younger sisters toward whom the skyjackers acted...
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