Self Help Now: A community blog

Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade offers advice for maintaining your mental health.

More Terror-How Can This Happen?

Written by Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade, Community blogger | Apr 19, 2013 7:45 PM

How do teenagers turn into cruel, evil, terrorist monsters? Did they never develop conscience , or was it erased, or transformed by brainwashing into distorted war against perceived enemies? We can only guess.

From criminal cases I've examined, I can only say, "all of the above" is a possible answer. I think of the abused, neglected kid who never formed warm, loving attachments, just superficial, empty interactions, who learned to hate others as a projection of his own feelings of damage and worthlessness. I think of the well-meaning but spoiled, impulsive kid who didn't think ahead, and joined a group or gang who adopted him and made him feel liked . He, then, learned to fight against the gang's or fundamentalist radical group's perceived enemies. I think of the paranoid schizophrenic who snapped and killed his vision of the devil in the form of a store clerk. We can try to make sense of it, but it never makes sense.

In fact, for every criminal abused and neglected kid, there's a good person who experienced the same garbage and compensated well, learning how to form constractive relationships. For every spoiled brat, there's someone who's been indulged and grew up OK anyway. Even paranoid schizophrenics don't usually harm anyone. They're scared and seek help.

I think it takes a special horrible blend of emotional and intellectual distortion on the part of the criminal combined with the worst social influences, stresses and brainwashing and a confluence of opportunities. Life is scary and unpredictable. In any community, it's hard to judge who is going to crack or plot. We can be vigilant and inform authorities about real threats. However, we don't want to become like Communist Russia and "inform" on innocents who present no danger. It's a fine line.

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