Double Standards of the media regarding Terrorism attacks

In a three piece serial we shed light to how the media has covered terrorist attacks around the globe, how the media influenced the popular mass by spreading fake news and misinformation. The Western media was even criticized for taking a biased approach on covering the New Zealand terrorist attack, thus exposing the International media’s double standard. But first we need to understand the psychology behind violent extremism in all its’ forms.

A mental health approach to violent extremism

The psychological aspect of becoming radicalized is nothing new to practitioners of the pve /cve world. By now many tools have been used to tailor the aspects of becoming violent in the process of radicalization and yet it is clear that this process is very complex. Policy makers, stakeholders, practitioners are leaving no stone unturned in order to find the right answer to why a person would become violent while the other wouldn’t, but to claim a unanimous answer would not only be pretentious, it would also become dangerous because we cannot forget that people come in different size and shapes, hence there cannot be a one size fits all method. While practitioners are focused on bringing light to mental disorders such as depression, PTSD, even schizophrenia as factors to push a person over the edge in order to take violent actions in the name of their ideology, one must ask the question if we are too distracted by the end spectrum of mental disorders without going back to the individual. When researching the mental state of an violent extremists, practitioners have the tendency of coming up with various hypothesis and while in that path they do leave out the fact they are dealing with individuals who are unrealistically convinced that their beliefs are pure, and that the violent act is sacred.

There is a reasoning soul in this machine[1]

Over the years the issues of radicalization and violent extremism have become diverse and thereby directly affecting the social, political and economic status of the individual. There is a global awareness that using military force, surveillance or security is not enough in combating terrorism, instead we need a more holistic approach in order to prevent violent extremism. One must admit that we have come a long way in fields of p / cve, by trying to understand the mental state of people joining terrorist organizations, yet it is not enough because the urge to profile extremist personalities have a tendency to fail. Practitioners have joined their forces with various actors such as law enforcement, local authorities, health and education professionals in order to understand how we can prevent violent extremism. There seems to be agreement amongst practitioners that the mental health disorder aspect is more important than the radicalization aspect in preventing violent extremism.[2] Although studies conducted since 2012 seem to repeatedly reach the conclusion that there is no clear connection between mental health disorders and terrorism. Perhaps the reason for that is the position of some practitioners which is at the far end of the spectrum when it comes to mental disorders such as PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), schizophrenia and ASD (Autism-Stress Disorder). There is no doubt that we can’t dismiss mental health disorders as a risk factor leading people on the path to violence or violent extremism[3], but the response to radicalization must reflect the way that process itself evolves, therefore beginning at the individual level.

To be human is to feel inferior[4]

We all are creatures of need. We are born needing and the vast majority of us die after a lifetime of struggle with many of our needs unfulfilled. These needs are not excessive; to be fed, kept warm and dry, to grow and develop at our own pace, to be held and caressed, and to be stimulated. These primal needs are the central reality of the infant. The neurotic process begins when these needs go unmet for any length of time. Since the infant cannot himself overcome the sensation of hunger or find substitute affection he must separate his sensations from consciousness. This separation of oneself from one’s needs and feelings is an instinctive maneuver in order to shut off excessive pain[5]. But because of their pain, the needs have been suppressed in the consciousness, and so the individual must pursue the satisfaction of his needs symbolicallyBecause the person wasn’t allowed to express themselves, they may be compelled to try to get others to listen. This trait can be found in the behavior of Lone Actors; there is a quest for belonging and a need for attention from an audience. This is illustrated by research that found that in 70% of lone actor terrorism cases, there was a broadcasting intent – either online or offline (e.g. family members or even police). Lone actors seem primarily motivated to be noticed and to launch a ‘snowball effect’ with their actions. An attack is achievement mechanism for the individual to achieve his or her mission of forcing society to see the world from their perspective[6]. When the needs are buried, the organism goes into a constant state of emergency alert. That alert state is tension[7]. Unnatural tension is chronic and is the pressure of denied or unresolved feelings and needs. So each new blocked feeling or unfulfilled need adds weight to the inner pressures which affects the total system. Meaning the musculature becomes involved in tension and fatigues of the individual whether awake or asleep[8].

Meral Musli Tajroska – a psychologist, an expert on violent extremism and radicalism and a woman rights activist

[1] Rene Descartes

[2] RAN H&SC Understanding the mental health disorders pathway leading to violent extremism, Turin 13 March 2019

[3] RAN H&SC Understanding the mental health disorders pathway leading to violent extremism, Turin 13 March 2019

[4] Alfred Adler

[5] The Primal Scream – Arthur Janov, Ph.D.

[6] RAN H&SC Risk assessment of lone actors, Mechelen 11-12 December 2017

[7] The Primal Scream – Arthur Janov, Ph.D.

[8] E. Jacobson, “Electrophysiology of Mental Activities,” American Journal of Psychology, Vol. 44 (1932).




This project was funded in part through a U.S. Embassy grant. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed herein are those of the implementers/authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Government.


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