2017-8-23 10:59


There must be a deviancy, an insanity even, that afflicts those who are motivated to kill for their beliefs. Such individuals — prepared to bomb a concert packed with children and teenagers or mow down pedestrians on a bridge — must lie somewhere on the spectrum of madness. This tempting rationalisation of terrorism has little basis in scientific evidence, according to psychologists.

“It is not true that terrorists share a common psychological profile,“
wrote Paul Gill and Emily Corner, from University College London. “No [single] mental health disorder appears to be a predictor of terrorist involvement.“
“认为恐怖分子存在共同的心理特征是不正确的,“伦敦大学学院(University College London)的保罗•吉尔(Paul Gill)和埃米莉•科纳(Emily Corner)写道:“似乎没有(哪一种)精神疾病能够作为预测个体投身恐怖主义活动的依据。“

Their analysis of four decades of research appeared in April in an issue of the journal American Psychologist devoted to terrorism and radicalisation.
两人对四十年来相关研究的分析发表在期刊《美国心理学家》(American Psychologist)4月的一期有关恐怖主义和激进化的专刊上。

As countries struggle to contain the threat, the field of psychology is coming to painful terms with its own limitations. Despite decades of inquiry, academics are no closer to comprehending why some individuals are spurred to turn radical thought into murderous deed.

“Efforts to understand terrorism abound in every academic discipline but many questions regarding how to predict and prevent it remain unanswered,“ admits John Horgan, professor of psychology at Georgia State University in Atlanta, guest editor of the issue.
“每一个学科都做出了大量试图理解恐怖主义的努力,但有关如何预测和防止恐怖主义,很多问题依然没有得到解答,“亚特兰大乔治亚州立大学(Georgia State University)的心理学教授约翰•霍根(John Horgan)承认,他是上述专刊的客座编辑。

The overview of research challenges many popular assumptions. For example, terrorist acts are not necessarily preceded by evidence of radical thought. Since 99 per cent of those with radical ideas never act, argue researchers at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, automatically lumping the two together is a muddled approach.
这份研究综述挑战了很多普遍假设。比如,恐怖主义行为发生前不一定会有个体存在激进思想的证据。因为99%拥有激进思想的人从未付诸行动,宾夕法尼亚州布林莫尔学院(Bryn Mawr College)的研究者们称,想当然地将二者混为一谈是不得要领的。

Becoming radicalised to extremist thought might be a different psychological process from being converted to extremist action.
This theory speaks to the fiendish challenge of calculating whom to shadow and when to intervene. In the UK, security agencies are conducting 500 investigations involving 3,000 people. Another 20,000 individuals have been pinned peripherally to past and present plots.

Prevention, then, is better than cure. And this is where politicians need to turn down the rhetoric and look up the research. According to researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital in Massachusetts, evidence shows that strong social connections within communities can limit radicalisation, possibly by strengthening social norms.
因此,防胜于治。在这方面,政治人士需要少说话,看看这份研究。马萨诸塞州波士顿儿童医院(Boston Children’s Hospital)的研究者们表示,证据表明社群内的紧密社会联系或许能够通过强化社会准则,限制激进化。

But such efforts should be owned by the communities, not controlled top down by outside agencies. Otherwise, groups feel stigmatised, aggrieved and discriminated against. That fuels further disengagement: vulnerable individuals can be lured towards alternative, extremist identities.

It is a dangerous tactic, then, to alienate entire communities by seemingly equating Islam with terrorism: it merely risks increasing the pool of extremist thinkers in which terrorist actors can hide. The chilling truth is that neither psychologists nor the state knows when, or even if, the former will become the latter.