“One of the few blessings of living in an age of anxiety is that we’re forced to become aware of ourselves. When our society, in its time of upheaval in standards & values, can give us no clear picture of “what we are & what we ought to be, we’re thrown back on the search for ourselves. The painful insecurity on all sides gives us new incentive to ask: is there perhaps some important source of guidance & strength we’ve overlooked?”[i]
This was an excerpt from the preface of one of the strongest books for Rollo May (PhD, clinical psychology): “Man’s search for himself” in which he leads an adventure into the hidden levels of the self in order to shed the light on our internal problems, discovering ways to meet our insecurity & struggles, gaining new insights on finding our strengths within.
In one of the chapters called (The experience of becoming a person), he was amazingly describing what differentiates Human beings from any other species in what is called: “The Consciousness of self..- The unique mark of man..To be aware of one’s self as an “I “.[ii]
He explains that this consciousness is the source of man’s highest qualities, & It underlies the ability to:
– Distinguish between “I” & the “world”.
– Imagine ourselves in someone else’s place & ask how would one feel, or do, if we were this other person.
– Have Empathy with others.
– Begin to love our neighbor, to have ethical sensitivity, to see truth, to create beauty, to devote ourselves to ideals..
– Realize the fact of time; thus reflect & learn from the past, imagine & plan for the future.
To fulfill these potentialities is to be a person!
What that has to do with terrorists & with the above headline??!!
Well, if we paused to ponder carefully in the above points; trying to dig into the deep layers of a terrorist’s inner world; we’ll find that those terrorists lack these special traits which differentiate human beings from any other species!!
Don’t we hear people calling them: “Beasts” or “Blood suckers”??
This is because a terrorist is a person who decided to give up the “I” & dissolved it into the “We“; thus erasing the main & unique mark of Man which is “Self- Awareness“!!
Therefore; they’re not able to think or decide separate from what their group leaders dictate them to do; simply because they were not trained to do so!!
Without the “WE” the terrorist does not exist, he is Void .. Or let me say: VANISHED!!!
Keeping the identity of the bigger group replaces & takes higher priority than keeping their self- identity; therefore; fighting for the dignity of their group replaces fighting for self dignity!!!! & that endorses the phrase which is commonly used when we call them “Brain-washed” .. Because they truly are !!!!
But why would someone give up his self-identity for the group?
Because there’s a big dreadful hole of insecurity, aloneness, meaninglessness, emptiness, sickness, suffering, inferiority & lack of love within covered with the apparent pride in order to hide these infirmities, just as Dr. Stephen A. Diamond has perfectly described it in his article: “Evil Deeds” by saying[iii]:
“Terrorism is typically an infantile and narcissistic act of violence stemming from profound feelings of impotence, frustration and insignificance….. Terrorists try to force the world to meet their own narcissistic, grandiose demands, and, when this doesn’t happen, they lash out violently. Terrorism is a failure to find a creative solution to life, to finding and fulfilling one’s true destiny. Terrorism is, in most cases, the madness of frustration and resentment”
– Same was mentioned by Dr. Rollo May about Hitler when he talked about humility & said:[iv]
“Tremendous pride was exhibited in fascism, as everyone knows who has seen the pictures of the strutting Mussolini, & psychopathic Hitler, but fascism is a development in people who are empty, anxious & despairing”
Also, Dr Henry A. Murray, former director of the Harvard Psychological Clinic”, made the most famous psychological study of “Hitler” & he confirmed same as many studies by other psychologists, that:[v]
“There seems no question that Hitler’s barely repressed anger, rage and resentment, especially toward his father, fueled much of his destructive behavior …. refused to give his father the satisfaction of crying, even after 32 lashes.” Here we can begin see how Hitler as a young boy was overpowered by his father and confronted with a situation he could not control, except by controlling his own emotions and actions, the adult Hitler was a “counteractive type,” by which he was primarily motivated by resentment and revenge in response to prior narcissistic wounding and profound feelings of inferiority. Pathological narcissism develops as a compensatory defense against these painful wounds and inferiority feelings …… In Hitler’s case, he chose to pursue power through politics.”
But aren’t we all suffering? & even many of us carry the burdens of our miserable childhood? Why have they decided to be terrorists?
Repressed aggression & anxiety can be hidden in many forms within our community; only the outer form is changed according to the severity of the inner struggle & the awareness of it. So it can take the disguised form of a colleague or a manager who is pleased in destroying your career path, or in that politician who exploits his power to achieve personal gain regardless of the welfare of people, until it reaches its extreme as seen explicitly in an extremist who is apparently a “terrorist”.
It is easier to flee from the severe inner battle of anxiety by ignoring one’s self instead of facing it, a terrorist has decided to be dissolved in the “we” as it is always easier to conform the group than to stand alone with your personal values & beliefs, a terrorist can’t take his own personal responsibility towards life & its challenges; therefore decided to give up his rights to think, reflect or the right to be free to disagree.
In the group he’s safer, in the group he’s stronger, his brain got washed & inculcated by teachings to please ALLAH , to gain His love & praise by killing others, he’s striving to prove to the world that he is important, powerful, having control, mobilizing a number of repressed anger & sense of rejection towards the community in a destructive way.
This is not to justify what terrorists do, But after shedding some light on the picture from another perspective, & if you were asked to give a cure as a Christmas present to such person to bring back his consciousness, sense of beauty & ethical awareness; what would that present be?