Religion and questions of identity (are) interwoven with questions of resources and political economy.” Success requires decoupling religious and political ideologies and acknowledging and addressing aspects that can foster the behavior changes we ultimately seek.
- This collection of papers yielded several insights. It is best to seek a balance between reflexive (security based) and reflective (addressing grievances, motivations) actions. Right now, solutions are overly focused on reflexive actions and thus actually create more of the problem we are trying to solve.
- Violent extremist organizations are effectively systems; thus, solution sets must contain tailored (kinetic and/or influence related) solutions for each system component (foot soldiers, instigators, leaders, supporters, logisticians, etc.) in ways that are appropriate for the culture, language, locality/region, and underlying motivations.
- Decision makers should avoid missing the “forest for the trees” by overly focusing on ideology. Local grievances trump global issues and need to be understood and addressed.
- Messengers are only effective when perceived as credible and knowledgeable; simply, if you are not credible, you should not be the messenger. Messages stick when they resonate with grievances, motivate behavior when they provoke affect, and persuade when the actions of the messenger match the words. Our adversaries understand this and employ this understanding in their messaging; thus, our counter messaging should take a “page from the same book.”
- Partners, chosen wisely, are critical in countering violent extremism with, in many cases, our partners in the lead. Without ownership, solutions will not be as successful or lasting.
- Many good things (messaging in Arab popular culture, music, grassroots deradicalization efforts), are already going on to counter violent extremism around the globe. Success, in many cases, will come from amplifying and supporting what is already working.
- Focus on small, achievable wins over the long haul (e.g., disengagement or risk management versus deradicalization, delegitimization of strategic objectives or outcomes).
- Delegitimization can be effective in exploiting vulnerabilities and inconsistencies (e.g., disconnects between the fantasy of violent extremism and the reality).
- Our timeframe for countering violent extremism needs to lengthen and the resources for strategies whose payoff is not immediate (e.g., development) must increase. Success will come with sustained efforts with appropriate partners, resources, and (adaptive) strategies.
There is a plethora of papers and books written on terrorism and violent extremism; at this point many factors, causes, and issues with past and current strategies are well known. It is understood that there is no “one size fits all” in terms of a terrorist or violent extremist profile, radicalization trajectory, level of extremism, set of motivations, organizational profile, or counter-terrorism responses/solutions. Not all extremists are violent. Ref
I have a psychology degree and have has specific intervention therapy training, so I am somewhat familiar with efforts in treating disturbed individuals, religion is not special to me, extremism often is just a mental dysfunction accompanying the beliefs, specifically to me what extremists likely suffer from beyond depression is Induced/Shared Delusional Disorder.
Extreme Religious Faith & Induced/Shared Delusional Disorder
“Induced/Shared Delusional Disorder is rarely seen (except for fanatical religious or political cults where it is extremely common) and these delusions are shared by two or more people with close emotional links. The delusions in the nondominant person(s) usually disappear when the people are separated. Whereas the delusions in the dominant, genuinely psychotic person persist (unless treated). Effective Therapies for Shared Delusional Disorder the delusional individuals must be separated. Usually the follower with “induced” delusions regains sanity once separated from the psychotic leader (e.g., cult leader or psychotic parent).” Ref
I wonder how connected the Induced Delusional Disorder could be in promoting a Depersonalization-Derealization Syndrome, which even the general population experiences in short episodes. Depersonalization-Derealization Syndrome is actually two different types of grouped affects one phenomenological (relating to consciousness and self-awareness) involving a sense of detachment from one’s self is involved in depersonalization and one experiential (relating to experience and observation) involving a sense of detachment from one’s surroundings is involved in derealization. I think some religious experiences sound similar to Depersonalization-Derealization Syndrome such as feeling a disconnection from one’s body, thoughts, or emotions or outside of or loss of control over one’s own thoughts and/or body possibly even a to the level of out-of-body or an otherworldly outside reality set of experiences. So how much more common would this be when in a hyperactive delusional prone state as Induced Delusional Disorder? Psychology may define a delusion as false belief opposing reality however they not wanting to offend religions or cultures allow room for delusion belief if its accepted by other members of the person’s society, group or subgroup thus showing they not only know a Shared Psychotic Disorder/Induced Delusional Disorder is accruing them feel they have to tolerate it. (3) & (4)
So, even if we cannot directly link all seemingly delusional religious experiences or religious delusions (false belief contrary to reality) to a psychotic disorder, when it is obvious that “faith brainwashed” delusionality is accruing, what else could explain this? There are some possible logical fallacies or cognitive bias that make “faith brainwashed” thinking or Induced Delusional Disorder so pervasive and enduring. I believe Induced Delusional Disorder likely motivates confirmatory bias where new facts or information even reasonable ones, do not change thinking and only things that are acknowledged conform to ones beliefs. Likewise, Induced Delusional Disorder likely motivates correspondence bias where we unfairly or unjustly apply a double standard to the validity of a belief or peace of information, positively if we think supports our belief and negatively if not. Lastly, Induced Delusional Disorder likely motivates Closed-Minded Reasoning (basis assessment and delusional/unreflective incorrectability) logical fallacy reasoning which increase self-confidence in polarized beliefs, create distortion in reasoning allowing the “faith brainwashed” thinking to endure.
Science, unlike faith, uses more Critically Open-Minded Reasoning (open assessment and reflective correctability) the effort to overcome all of those issues common with Induced Delusional Disorder or “faith brainwashed” thinking. With science, unlike faith, all facts are welcomed, even if they contradict a treasured theory or model, which must then be rejected immediately. A true scientist will be delighted at having found a new aspect of science, especially if it changes a scientific view, whereas a true religionist/fideist motivated by faith or Induced Delusional Disorder will deny it and try to explain it away. Admittedly science is not a single category, approach or thinking, however nobody who is reasonable and informed can or should reject or deny the truths it produces. Religion too is not a single category, approach or thinking, however nobody who is reasonable and informed can accept its deluded or reality devoid beliefs as any kind of truths. The scientific method assumes a priori of methodological naturalism about the nature of reality that is devoid of considering supernatural causes, it is not agnostic about this. The scientific method is using a form of philosophical rationalism to establish this view about the nature of reality along with the commonly held philosophy of empiricism, because looking for proof or truth devoid of considering supernatural causes by using a priori assumptions is employing rationalism. Faith is offered as the justification for belief. As seen in the statement I believe in god because I have faith. Translation I am using faith (strong believe without or contrary to evidence) in place of facts. This faith instead of facts is a corner point of in all magical, mystical, supernatural, and superstitious thinking or beliefs. Ones who are science-minded holding to objective methodologies such as the scientific method would be compiled by the ethics of belief to never put faith over facts, in fact never use faith as a justification for belief at all.
Conceptual Clarity: Disengagement versus Deradicalization
A major obstacle to understanding terrorist disengagement is that existing research remains devoid of conceptual clarity. For instance, researchers consistently use “disengagement” and “deradicalization” interchangeably. This is problematic because these concepts may have unique underlying mechanisms that distinguish each trajectory. For purposes of the present study, we define disengagement as, “the process whereby an individual no longer accepts as appropriate the socially defined rights and obligations that accompany a given role in society”. Disengagement does not mean individuals renounce the belief system, but rather, they are no longer motivated to participate in group activities (e.g., meetings). Alternatively, we define deradicalization as “the process of changing an individual’s belief system, rejecting the extremist ideology, and embracing mainstream values”. Deradicalization implies the individual has rejected the ideological belief system, and thus, no longer adheres to the ideologies that characterized a particular group. As such, deradicalization should be viewed as distinct from disengagement because it suggests a transformation in the individual’s world view. In this way, deradicalization involves a change in belief; whereas, disengagement is characterized by a change in behavior. While an individual may renounce the group’s belief system, there exist situations in which the individual remains active in the group (e.g., displays movement related symbols, attends meetings) but changes his or her commitment to the belief system. Alternatively, it is also possible for an individual to disengage from an ideologically-based organization while remaining committed to the belief system. For instance, a person who disengages from far-right extremism may continue to condemn race-mixing but no longer attends group meetings or participates in movement activities (e.g., hikes, marches, rallies). Although disengagement and deradicalization processes overlap in several ways, the current effort focuses on factors leading to disengagement. We are specifically interested in the various “push” and “pull” factors that lead to changes in behavior such as family responsibilities, disillusionment, or lack of satisfaction. From a methodological standpoint, however, we examine the ways in which deradicalization and disengagement are defined and applied across the sample. Ref
Ideologically-Based and Violent Organizations
Ideologies are sets of ideas based on beliefs, experiences, and education that aim to delineate an issue and offer solutions to any associated problems (Snow, 2004; Freeden, 1998, 2007). Ideologies are biased, illusory, or misleading because they present partial or incomplete realities, and those versions of reality represent some societal interests while obscuring others. Social movements, like many other social groupings, rely heavily on a unifying ideology for group solidarity, maintenance, and growth. What remains to be understood, however, is the process of shedding these ideological belief systems as the individual disengages from the group. In order to capture the scope of disengagement literature, the current review relies on parallel literatures from a wide range of disciplines and topic areas. Specifically, we examine disengagement from (1) terrorism, (2) street gangs, (3) mainstream religious groups and (4) cults/new religious movements and social movements. By examining both violent and nonviolent groups as well as ideological and non-ideological groups, we can better identify the similarities and differences underlining the disengagement process. First, we examined studies within the field of terrorism research. Examples of terrorist groups comprise a wide range of extremist ideologies such as the far-right (e.g., Silent Brotherhood, Covenant, Sword, and Arm of the Lord), far-left (e.g., Rode Jeugd, Black Liberation Army) and religiously-based organizations (e.g., Islamic State). The underlining characteristic among terrorist groups is the use of violence as a means to communicate political grievances and achieve political goals. Street gangs are the second area of focus in our review. The existence of a criminal purpose is the predominant factor which distinguishes street gangs from other kinds of organizations. Street gangs are characterized as an ongoing organization of individuals who share a common identity such as Bloods, Vice Lords, Latin Kings or Black P. Stones. While recent studies suggest an overlap between violent extremism and generic criminal offending, we treat street gangs as separate from terrorism and other groups because they lack an ideological belief system that unifies members. The third category is comprised of studies related to cults/new religious movements and social movements. This category refers to religious, spiritual, or social communities that occupy a peripheral place within society. Often, the belief system of these groups is regarded by others as “deviant” or unusual and/or challenging the status quo. Such beliefs often center around racial and gender equality (e.g., Civil Rights Movement, LGBTQ community) or religious and spiritual issues (e.g., Hare Krishna or Scientology). In some situations, social movements rely on violence as a strategy but this occurs less often than terrorist groups or street gangs, and is not expressly condoned by a formal leadership authority or within the group’s mission. The final area of focus included mainstream religious groups such as Orthodox Christianity, Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism, Islam, Mormonism, and Protestantism. While these groups have a strong ideological identity, they are not typically associated with the promotion of violence to achieve their ideological objectives. In their study to account for violence among ideological groups, Mumford and colleagues (2008) identified a number of variables that distinguished violent from non-violent ideological groups, such as leader extremism and condoning violence, group righteousness, organizational indoctrination regarding the use of violence, and high levels of environmental conflict. However, to isolate disengagement from ideologically extreme groups, it is critical to compare disengagement literature from this non-violent ideologically mainstream sample. Ref
Violence (53%) emerged as a salient theme in 19 of the 36 terrorism articles reviewed. Violence refers to physical act(s) of aggression and/or psychological harm. This includes instances in which the individual does not agree with the use of violence or believes that violent action is no longer a viable means of political protest. Additionally, violence also included situations in which the individual witnessed violent action or was subjected to violence, which lead him or her to reconsider their continued involvement with the organization. In terms of the overall findings, disengagement emerged for many in regards to disapproval of the use of violence (n = 14; 38%) rather than being victimized while a member (n = 5; 14%). For a portion of these studies, the absolute rejection of violence functioned as a marker of disengagement. We also identified disillusionment (n = 21; 58%) as a prominent factor pushing individuals away from extremist activities. Disillusionment is best understood as the realization that a consistent incongruence exists between idealized expectations and the everyday realities associated with those same expectations (Casserly & Megginson, 2009; Ebaugh, 1988). In other words, disillusionment occurs when there is a disjunction between expectations and reality. For example, an individual may join a group due to the expectation they will have protection but later become disillusioned by the reality they are at risk of victimization by fellow group members. Related to disillusionment, several other studies reported infighting between members (n = 7; 19%) and disloyalty among members (n = 6; 17%) as factors contributing to the disengagement process. In these situations, violent extremists became disillusioned because they originally joined the movement to fight “racial enemies” but soon realized their own fellow members were the primary target of violence. Repeated violence between members may cause the person to become fatigued, exhausted or feel “burned out”. Overall, the combination of violence, disloyalty, lack of satisfaction and general disillusionment were found as reasons for leaving. In addition to violence and disillusionment, physical confinement (n = 9; 25%) and fear of confinement in jail, prison, or mental health facilities (n = 2; 5%) were identified as contributing to the disengagement process. These factors underscore the negative consequences associated with the group’s actions and effectively functioned as factors pushing these individuals away from terrorism related activities. In terms of pull factors, the decision to exit from activism was primarily motivated by changes in the respondents’ personal lives and not for political reasons. The influence of third party outsiders was extremely significant throughout the process of disengagement. In this way, social relationships (n = 20; 55%) emerged as the most prominent reason for disengaging from terrorism related activities. Social relationships refer to non-family members who are in close proximity to the individual such as friends, co-workers or neighbors. The strongest motive for leaving a militant racist or nationalist youth group was to establish a family with new responsibilities for their spouse and children. Obligations to these relationships restructured the individual’s time away from group activities towards pro-social action. Finally, 8 out of the 36 terrorism articles attributed employment (n = 4; 11%) or education (n = 4; 11%) as triggering the disengagement process. By employment, we mean the prospect of being hired for a legal, legitimate job; whereas, education refers to the prospect of returning to or completing school. Ref
In terms of disengagement, the most common theme to emerge across the entire sample involved disillusionment. Studies that identified disillusionment as a push factor leading to disengagement discussed several contributing influences including a lack of satisfaction (n = 42; 37%) with the participants’ current life situation, frustration with the group, their place in the group, or with the direction of the group. Additionally, these studies highlight how, in some organizations, members were encouraged to physically exclude themselves from “non-believers,” including family and friends outside of the organization. Disagreement with group methods were not only prominent in studies of terror disengagement but also mainstream religious groups, gangs, cults/new religious movements, and social movements. Several studies (n = 27; 23%) illustrated how certain group methods were too violent, were hypocritical to what was preached, and/or resulted in negative attention to the organization. Victimization (n = 4; 4%), which involves psychological abuse or physical violence from fellow group members, also emerged as a contributing factor to feelings of disillusionment with the organization. In addition, several studies related to gangs and cults/new religious and social movements studies found financial disillusionment (N = 8; 7%) as a contributing factor leading to exit. For instance, gang members reported dissatisfaction with the “gang life” that was supposed to provide money and material goods. Similarly, members of cults and new religious movements joined due to the prospect of living a “comfortable” way of life but were disappointed when health care services were withheld and were expected to provide manual labor in return for basic needs (e.g., shelter, clothing, food). Ref
Relationships were found to be the most prominent pull factor among each of the research areas. In order to refine the current analysis, we noted specific relationship categories to understand which relationships had the most influence on the exit process. Specifically, the relationship category was broken down into the following dimensions: (1) immediate relatives such as parents, siblings, and grandparents; (2) children, (3) spouses or intimate partners and (4) social relationships, which includes co-workers, friends, and neighbors. Immediate relatives (n = 57; 50%) were identified as the most pervasive relationship attributing to exit. This influence stemmed from positive relationships with siblings or parents. Children (n = 16; 14%) emerged as the second most prevalent relationship impacting the exit process for all topic areas. For these individuals, the decision to leave was based on family obligations and time spent caring for children. Spouses (n = 12; 10%) also played a role in the exit process. For instance, the level of religiosity for the individual’s non-religious significant other largely impacted the decision to leave a mainstream religious movement. Across the relationship theme, we can begin to incorporate these findings into the broad criminological literature. Specifically, the data may simply represent further evidence of the contention by social-control theory that increased social bonds provide individuals a “stake in conformity” and ease them out of criminal lifestyles. In these situations, personal obligations, such as marriage and children, create interdependent systems of attachment or “social bonds” that connect the person to conventional society. These attachments alter a person’s routine activities, constrain unstructured socialization time, and have the ability to alter one’s sense of self through cognitive transformation. Ref
I know you believe “You” can’t change people by reason and evidence, especially if hostile.
WRONG, I do it all the time.
Here is a blog post with me doing just that: Turning a Theist Attack into a Chance for Their New Learning: “an open dialog”: “an open dialog”
“He started with: *”Damien, shut the fuck up…. Just cause your atheist doesn’t mean you need to advertise it! Have fun condemned after death. I must admit I don’t know how to explain god , but I also don’t know how to explain , gravity,dark matter,the universe,where it came from ? Closed minded piece of shit.”
“We ended with him saying: **Damien, great response. Okay, I now agree and respect what you do. You’re not a non believer …., you are just a realist, needing proof to back theory. And I respect that good debate.”
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