A Psycho-Emotional Human Security Analytical Framework: Origin and Epidemiology of Violent Extremism and Radicalization of Refugees

A Psycho-Emotional Human Security Analytical Framework: Origin and Epidemiology of Violent Extremism and Radicalization of Refugees [1]

Patrick J. Christian, Aleksandra Nesic, David Sniffen, Tasneem Aljehani, Khaled Al Sumairi, Narayan B. Khadka, Basimah Hallawy and Binamin Konlan

“Extremism and Radicalization are Psychological Processes, Not Religious Beliefs”

This paper addresses the challenge of young-adult and refugee vulnerability to the spread of violent extremist ideology, subsequent radicalization, and devolution into violence related behavior. The researcher’s approach is characterized by grounded theory that extremism and radicalization originate from profound psychosocial crisis rather than religious belief or unmet physical needs. Based on this grounded theory, researchers design and advocate the implementation of clinical counter-violent extremism, and radicalization intervention and prevention programs that operate far forward of local and national security interdiction points. Our approach to Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) clinical engagement necessitates the operations within the refugee community to repair damaged psychosocial and emotional communities in order to build resiliency against virulent extremist ideology and Violent Extremist Organization (VEO) recruitment. Simultaneously, this approach introduces advanced psychosocial-emotional analytical frameworks to government agency employees responsible for refugee administration, health and welfare. Presenters demonstrate how community clinical engagement and government services training and advising efforts need to work collaboratively to identify and disrupt lines of extremism and radicalization within the vulnerable young-adult and refugee populations. This paper first outlines the challenges of war-refugees through describing the destabilizing effects of the war refugees on the host populations through psychological concepts of trauma, transference, and countertransference, through which virulent strains of violent ideology spread into vulnerable populations. Second, the paper positions the psychosocial-emotional damage from trauma as the origin of violent extremism as well as describes epidemiology and spreading of extremist messaging. Here the paper highlights the human security analytical framework developed by presenters that demonstrates the importance of specific and early intervention points. Finally, the paper presents the solution- intervening forward of state and federal security interdiction points by emphasizing the need to repair damaged psychosocial and emotional tissue sufficient to build resiliency of refugees against virulent extremist ideology and VEO recruitment.

The Challenge of War-Refugees

Worldwide, the flow of war refugees has now exceeded 60 million human beings. This is the highest level ever recorded. 

“We are witnessing a paradigm change, an unchecked slide into an era in which the scale of global forced displacement as well as the response required is now clearly dwarfing anything seen before” – UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres[2]

The scope and volume of war refugees now threatens political and social destabilization in the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas.  The destabilizing effects of the war refugees on the host populations receiving them can best be understood within human psychology concepts of trauma, transference, and countertransference, through which virulent strains of violent ideology spread into vulnerable populations.[3]  These little understood social psychological processes present the possibilities of tremendous damage to the social fabric with attendant political upheaval to both refugee and host populations.  The effects of these three processes can be managed and mitigated with early diagnosis and treatment.  Left untended, the Arab Spring of violent revolutions and their descent into anarchy may yet spread westward with the flow of 60 million war refugees.

The Origin of Violent Extremism and Radicalization

Psychosocial-Emotional Damage from Trauma

The simplest description of extremism is the following: as a traumatized human being tries to reestablish their cognitive thought-relationship to reality, they are susceptible to ‘totalization’ of cause and effect.[4]  This type of totalizing thought is especially prevalent when it involves the nature of their emotional pain and psychological suffering from loss and alienation.[5] Violent extremism is a psychological totalization of thought regarding the effects of emotional pain and psychological suffering that overwhelms the cognitive thought process. To restore connection with reality, the cause of these effects are attributed to an ‘other’ group because of that group’s actions, policies, or physical presence.[6]  Said differently, extremism is the mind’s errant attempt at establishing meaning to their suffering by assigning an antagonist to its internal protagonist. This creates a narrative that provides grounding structure of cause and effect.[7]  While extremism is a cognitive (conscious) thought process, extremism is driven by the subconscious’ ego requirement for meaning-of-suffering, without which the ego is destabilized and the identity that it supports (or represents) begins to devolve in a process of self-loathing that can threaten psychic annihilation, a common basis for suicidal terror participation.[8]

Travelling within the 60 million war refugees is a collective memory of profound terror and reality shattering losses of children and ancient historical narrative that carried their generational remembrance and existential meaning.  Behind the seemingly calm faces of the refugees lays a vast invisible psychological trauma of a social reality broken under armored tank treads and brutal beheadings.  The surviving families that are filling the growing Lebanese/Turkish/European refugee camps are likely suffering from a collection of conflicting cognitive thoughts of survival and alienation; raw emotions of unintegrated grief, shame and rage; and sub-conscious ideations of hope, despair, and terrorized anxiety. 

By most accounts, the physical needs of the war refugees in Europe and the United States are being met by a combination of government and non-government organizations, especially in comparison to those remaining in Lebanon and Syria. Even as the most life-threatening needs (food, shelter, medicine, physical protection) are met however, the deeper, psychological trauma that was previously submerged, begins to emerge and destabilize families and individual members of these traumatized refugee communities. In the hierarchy of human needs, all are required to sustain life.  Human needs are organized into a hierarchy because extreme cold kills before thirst which kills before hunger, and so on.  At the deep end of the human needs hierarchy lies the psychological, sociological, and emotional needs that sustain cognitive reality and provide purpose for human life.  Adding to the difficulty of care and administration of traumatized refugees are trauma effects such as irrational phobia, interpersonal guardedness, increased social distance and relational ruptures. Traumatized individuals, while needing an emotionally safe and secure containing environment can frequently be prone to intense mistrust; they may be overcome by fears of emotional closeness; and they may present resistance to necessary interpersonal attachments/reattachments which they perceive as harbingers of further loss. These are classic symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) made more complicated by their sociocentric psychological organization.

The human security analytical framework below is a primary clinical assessment and engagement tool for Valka-Mir cultural psychologists and sociologists.  For most of the war refugees, the psychological structure of their personal and family identity has become unstable from failing archetypes (such as heroism, sacrifice, and masculinity) that are necessary to a patriarchal society.[9]  Meanwhile, the sociological order of family, ethnic, and cultural kinsmen within the larger community has collapsed with the destruction of their homes, farms, and towns. Their generational transmission of historical narrative that memorializes their past, connects to their present, and prepares their children for the future is at imminent risk of obsolescence with the loss of so many members of family and ethnic kin.

Finally, the war refugees find themselves in camps or towns within the benefactor nations whose psychological organization, sociological structure, and emotional conjugations are vastly different than the refugees own rapidly failing group identity. As individuals, and as a body of humans, they are in a profound psychological and emotional crisis. Their primary loss of home, rootedness, and sense of place in a now vanquished localized world order is made worse by the day-to-day meaninglessness of routinized camp experience lived within a grid environment. In this state, the refugees are spectacularly vulnerable to damaging transference and countertransference exchanges with their host benefactor population.  These ‘psychological transfers’ of roles, feelings, and meanings between refugees and hosts establish the basis for extremism and radicalization that requires early intervention.

The Epidemiology of Extremism and Radicalization

The Relationship Between Trauma Transference, Countertransference and Extremism

The cognitive and subconscious minds of traumatized refugees continuously seek to reestablish their relationship with reality.  Unaided by supportive intervention, the refugees’ thought patterns seek out explanatory meanings that relieve their suffering.  Two common modes of transference entail the psychic extremes of idealization, and devaluation. For example, many find that their suffering is relieved by meanings-explanations that are based on safety-security, where the host-population takes on the role of idealized savior or rescuer. For others, suffering is relieved by affixing responsibility for their suffering, often as a relief from unbearable survivor guilt. In this version of transference, the host-population takes on the role of betrayer and devalued, because they were culpable witness to the death families without intervening to save them. These two examples illustrate the vulnerable state of mind of the refugees as they search for meaning-explanations that support the reestablishment of their personal and family relationship with reality. 

As the graphic below illustrates, this is accomplished in part through a process known as transference, where the refugees reassign meaning and feelings onto their new surroundings within their host benefactor community. This is how refugees can ascribe to a previously unknown host community, the roles of savior or betrayer.  This process of transference and search for meaning-explanations is highly susceptible to interference by terror-criminal ideologues who work to reshape meaning for the traumatized refugees as anti-modern, anti-western, and call for mental and physical resistance. The call to assign responsibility onto the benefactor host population for their suffering affects only a percentage of the traumatized population.  As well, many traumatized refugees are able to recover their relationship to their new reality without succumbing to totalization of thought necessary for extremism and subsequent radicalization. 

For those members of the traumatized refugee community whose affected psychological-emotional state remains vulnerable to extremism, additional supportive intervention is required to prevent their descent into radicalization and subsequent recruitment by terror-crime organizations.  The patterns of psychological and emotional traumatization and the ideologue involvement within the transference, countertransference, and secondary trauma constitute the extremism health event that we refer to as the epidemiology of violent extremism.  The epidemiology of violent extremist ideations show how traumatized thought is influenced as a pattern towards the host population as a causative agent of suffering and how that thought pattern is transmitted between traumatized and non-traumatized populations through transference, countertransference, and secondary traumatization.

Refugee transference in this context involves the (mostly) unconscious redirection of feelings and attitudes about their suffering/condition/plight onto a more accessible representation of their tormentor or savior – the host population. These transference reactions include both rational and irrational themes. The representation of the host population as tormentor is a common ideation pushed by terror-criminal ideologues, and the representation of the host as savior is viciously attacked by those same ideologues at each setback suffered by the refugee.  What is important to remember is that the traumatized refugees’ minds are attempting to reconstruct a reality damaged by violent loss and unresolved terror. Their fixation on the host-population as either tormentor or savior through this transference of meaning and feeling is not based on reality, but an attempt at realigning a damaged reality.   Countertransference on the other hand, is often a reaction to Transference, where those in that power position (host population) develops conscious or unconscious positive or negative feelings about the Refugees.  Again countertransference is based not on reality but on often, unconscious effects that the presence of refugees have on the group identity definition of the host population. As with transference, counter-transference attitudes also include both rational and irrational themes. Countertransference effects of alienation, exclusion, or revulsion can have powerfully radicalizing effects on the traumatized refugees, fueling powerful ideological narratives of the host population as tormentors and causative agents of their suffering and loss.

Secondary trauma occurs when there is sufficient intermingling of ‘psychological-emotional’ narratives from the traumatized refugees to the host population, to the point where elements of the host population begin to suffer trauma (breaking of reality) on behalf of the refugees. Secondary trauma within members of the host population that are related (real or believed) to the refugees can create equal levels of totalizing thought within this part of the host population despite the fact that they may never have even visited the conflict zone.

The Inhibitors of Effective Refugee Adjustment and Acculturation: Psychological Organization and Sociological Order

There are several important inhibitors of refugee adjustment and acculturation into their new surroundings which, by themselves are common to most immigrant families relocating to host populations’ sociological and cultural order.  This inhibition of refugee adjustment and acculturation is not to be confused with integration, but merely an ability to sustain psychological, emotional and physical life cycles within a new social environment. The inability of refugee families and individual members to successfully adjust and acculturate into their new host environment creates and sustains conditions of alienation, shame, and ultimately rage that can be redirected by ideologues into radicalization and terror-crime recruitment, specifically toward the host-nation population. The two most important inhibitors of refugee adjustment and acculturation are psychological organization and sociological order. The graphic below illustrates the differences between social structures that are characteristic of the refugees’ norm versus the structure characteristic of their new host benefactors.

Central to the refugees’ discomfort will be the normative and expected behavior of school aged children and young adults.  In egocentric (individualistic) societies, the locus of internal member control is inculcated into children from the earliest possible age. The egocentric child is taught independent thought responsibility for their actions, their success, their failure, and ultimately their life destiny, separate from the destiny of siblings, parents, and extended family. By contrast, in sociocentric (collectivistic) communities, the locus of taught/learned member control is external to the individual. Family members are inculcated with the idea that they as primary and extended family, are responsible for the behavior or control of each other.  The sociocentric child is taught collective thought/decision making with shared responsibility for their actions, success, failure and ultimately, their interrelated life destiny.

Western social structures are oriented around individual agency imperatives that require children and adults to continuously move between situations with varying normative behavioral expectations (social rules) such as school, clubs, play, jobs, and so on. This can present the sociocentric family with quite a dilemma.  The basis of sociocentric (collectivist) social order involves a different psychological organization of the family and community, one that is based on merged family identities with a central prototype that is limited to internal influence. Essentially, the concept and understanding of “self” in egocentric society is independent from others in the family, community and society, whereas the concept and understanding of the “self” in sociocentric society is interdependent on other selves in the family, community and society. Refugee families can and do adapt.  But when this important inhibitor to acculturation is combined with war trauma, their ability to adjust and adapt to their new found sociological structure that is based on a different (individual-egocentric) psychological organization, becomes very difficult indeed.  Traumatized families are already dealing with tremendous psychosocial-emotional issues, and when confronted with a clearly alien version of social order, their ability to recover and adapt becomes seriously degraded.  The resulting enhanced psychological crises for the group means that more members will become vulnerable to extremist, totalizing thoughts as they struggle to reconnect their situation to the new meanings of their host environment. This increase in members’ extreme thought-meanings of their situation leads in turn, to increased opportunities for ideologues to shape their thought-meanings into political, weaponized radicalization. This serves to increase the overall recruitment base for violent terror or crime organizations.  

The Solution

Intervening Forward of State and Federal Security Interdiction Points

As events have now demonstrated in the America’s, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, governments’ reliance on local and national security interdiction points places the burden of effort towards the end of the security spectrum where the host population is most vulnerable to attack.  This arrangement also requires the state to increasingly advance its domestic intelligence apparatus into the refugee and host populations in a manner that reduces civil liberties and undermines human rights protection and the rule of law.  By comparison, such clinical based, counter violent extremism and radicalization intervention and prevention programs proposed in this paper, and operate far forward of both local and national security interdiction points.  Our efforts focus on human security, forward of and in support of, state security.  Counter violent extremism clinical engagement operates within the refugee community to repair damaged psychosocial and emotional tissue sufficient to build resiliency against virulent extremist ideology and VEO recruitment.

If properly trained, clinical practitioners are able to help community members learn to separate out the intense currents of opinionated feelings regarding the terrifying events in their home country from the new reality of their host benefactor communities.  While these opinionated feelings emerge as various strains of political dialogue, underlying these opinionated feelings are threats to large group identity definition, distinction, affirmation, and the meanings that directly sustain their conceptions of reality as Arab, Muslim, and the various tribal/nationalist identities of the refugees and their host populations. And this is how cultural psychologists, sociologists, and psychoanalytical anthropologists’ builds human security:

  • Through the stabilization of large group identity at the family, family member, and cultural identity community;
  • Through tribal/nationalist identity mediation that reassures family lines of origination with present day belonging. These lines of origination and belonging tend to fray and collapse in the extreme violence in northern Iraq and Syria;[10]
  • Through mediation of meaning that conforms to reality that meets their underlying psychosocial-emotional needs, rather than the ideologues’ political cause;
  • Through translation assistance of their sociocentric psychological organization to the new egocentric organization within their host benefactor community;

Simultaneously, the research presented here is a part of Valka-Mir’s Human Security program that introduces advanced psychosocial-emotional analytical frameworks to government agency employees responsible for refugee administration, health and welfare.  Valka-Mir’s research grounded in advanced application of social and psychological sciences suggests equipping the community clinical engagement and government services training and advising, to work collaboratively to identify and disrupt lines of extremism and radicalization within the vulnerable young-adult and refugee populations.

End Notes

[1] Epidemiology is the science of studying the factors determining and influencing the frequency and distribution of a health related event and their causes in a defined human population.  Used in this context of mental health, epidemiology of violent extremism and radicalization deals with the origination, influence, transmission, and effects of totalizing cognitive thought that lead to violent extremism.

[2] Mingst, K.A., P. Karns, M. P., and J. Lyon, A. J. (2016). United Nations in the 21st Century. Boulder: CO. Westview Press.

[3] Transference and countertransference were first articulated by Sigmund Freud, and involved psychological interaction between a therapist and his/her patient.  The vast majority of war refugees however, are from sociocentric or collectivist societies which are differentiated from individualist or egocentric societies by the locus of member control.  In the latter, the locus of member control is external to the individual and rests with the collective of family and ethnic cultural kin and requires therapeutic treatment regimens that are group centric. In the former, the locus of member control is internal to the individual allowing for more individual therapeutic treatment as a successful treatment regimen.

[4] Anna Freud describes trauma as a ‘piercing’ or breaking of a person’s psychological understanding of reality.

[5] For clinical treatment, it is important to differentiate between two sources of trauma, and associated reactive rage that are often conflated in both the clinical literature and in discussions of violent extremism.  They are interrelated with the loss of meaning, and sense of alienation described in this section. The two modes of reactivity include primordial ‘reactive rage’ towards the perpetrators of traumatic experience(s), and ‘abandonment rage’ towards the failure of perceived protective agents to provide security (host government, foreign internal defense forces, or culture of refuge). 

  1. The first entails abandonment to the world, the second abandonment by, or from, the world. Etiologically these sources of rage can be differentiated. Experientially, they are often fused, and undifferentiated. Each of these sources of rage, and modes of reactivity become fused in the described “totalization” of thought and affective response referenced.
  2. Assessment and treatment requires assisting victims with differentiating between their: (1) primary emotional pain, and loss; (2) reactive rage towards perpetrators; (3) abandonment rage towards those perceived as having a duty to protect them from the fates suffered; and (4) those perceived as having a humanitarian responsibility to respond to their plight, after the fact. 

[6] Because of their perceived culpability as passive witnesses (i.e., by-stander apathy), as emotionally indifferent observers, or as active contributors to further abandonment, host nations become the targeted ‘other’ for the ‘totalized’ rage of the violent extremist. It is an overdetermined response: (1) partial reality (the equivalent of an iatrogenic or induced transference resistance); (2) partial displacement within the transference (affectively correct, but interpersonally misdirected); and (3) a target of convenience (chosen for its proximity in time and place, and symbolic value).

[7] The rage itself serves cathartic, retributive, and defensive functions. The defensive component is the turning of passive suffering and existential despair, feelings of meaninglessness, powerlessness, and loss of any sense of participation in family/group locus of control; into what is experienced as a more tolerable, active, empowered, though transient and illusory sense of empowerment and purpose. When that purpose orients towards ideations of punishing the perceived responsible agent, the affected refugee member reaches his/her most likely recruitment point, whether that be self-recruitment or external recruitment.

[8]  It establishes the archetypal dynamic of victimization and vilification. The most at-risk refugees suffer from extreme self-punitive super-ego pathology --- often having its genesis in rational and irrational guilt, related to the trauma(s) experienced, and which is enacted at the interpersonal level (physical and/or emotional sadomasochism). These individuals as a subtype of refugee also frequently exhibit control sensitivity and sensitivity to guilt, making them a higher than normal candidate for meaning manipulation and subsequent recruitment. 

[9] As used here, archaic typologies of human identity are psychological prototypes of fundamental human characteristics as expressed within a specific cultural context. Archaic types of masculinity, femininity, heroism, and sacrifice (as well as thousands of others) inform members of a collective identity how to express themselves in thought and emotion in order to achieve psychosocial placement within family, community, and ultimately, within their own self-assessment of worth. 

[10]  An important aspect of ISIS’ success is its purposeful dismantling and destruction of the existing social order which supports their claims to religious social authority over that of hereditary family origination.

References

Freud, S. The ego and the id. Seattle: Pacific Publishing Studio, 2016.

Freud, S. Group psychology and the analysis of the ego. Kindle Edition, 2010.

Jung, C. Man and his symbols. New York: Random House Publishing, 2012.

Mingst, K.A., P. Karns, M. P., and J. Lyon, A. J. United Nations in the 21st Century.

Boulder: Westview Press, 2016.

 

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The three points of the "trauma triangle" appear to be "victim," "perpetrator" and "rescuer."

https://www.depelchin.org/media/files/page/30d5f49d/Hyde.pdf (See the 2nd page.)

Question:

If even our own President says that the U.S./the West is the cause of the problems in the Greater Middle East today and, thus, suggests that the "perpetrator," and the "rescuer," are, indeed, one and the same,

Then just how hard is it for the "victim" to (a) draw this exact same conclusion and, thus, (b) become easily radicalized -- specifically against the "perpetrator"/"rescuer" -- accordingly?

From Candidate Trumps April 27, 2016 Foreign Policy Speech:

BEGIN QUOTE

We went from mistakes in Iraq to Egypt to Libya, to President Obama’s line in the sand in Syria. Each of these actions have helped to throw the region into chaos, and gave ISIS the space it needs to grow and prosper.

It all began with the dangerous idea that we could make Western democracies out of countries that had no experience or interest in becoming a Western Democracy.

We tore up what institutions they had and then were surprised at what we unleashed. Civil war, religious fanaticism; thousands of American lives, and many trillions of dollars, were lost as a result. The vacuum was created that ISIS would fill. Iran, too, would rush in and fill the void, much to their unjust enrichment.

END QUOTE

https://www.donaldjtrump.com/press-releases/donald-j.-trump-foreign-poli...

Herein, the "victim" seeing the "rescuer" acting as such (to wit: as the "rescuer") specifically due to his (the "rescuer's") feeling of guilt and responsibility for being, in fact, the "perpetrator?"

Thus, the "humanitarian effort" being seen more as a "guilt trip" and, thus, reinforcing the "victim's" understanding that the "perpetrator," and the "rescuer," are, indeed, one and the same?

Bill C,
Goodness me, this essay has inspired you to put a second string on your banjo.

Hallelujah!

I hope you pursue the argument forwarded by this essay with as much zeal as your 'Transformer' obsession (well maybe not that much perhaps).

People can and do form opinions based on your trauma triangle but that doesn't make those actions, actors and assumptions valid. Read the article several times and refer the notes, it explains the traumatic delusion process very well indeed.

PTSD can take many forms and be triggered/created by just about anything. We tend to think traumatic actions like surviving your Company being overrun or losing all your limbs as the precursor of mental trauma but some folks suffer this and emerge mentally unscathed.

Living in a tent for 25 years in the middle of the Baluchi Desert and being fed by UNHCR may not strike people as particularly trauma inducing but for millions of folks it is literally soul-destroying. The Fruitcake are masters at recognizing those who are most susceptible in this environment and target them vigorously.

Once they get hold of you walking into a compound and detonating yourself can make perfect sense but that act will rarely be for a valid reason. We tend to fixate on the religious packaging they cloak their actions, actors and assumptions under but it is a ruse and much like your trauma triangle, forming opinions based on these outward appearances can be misleading.

The essay describes the cognitive behavior of hundreds of belligerents I have interrogated and thousands I have encountered over many years. It is wonderfully succinct and opens a panoramic window for those who have a genuine interest in understanding where we are going wrong in the fight and want to do something about getting it right.

TC:

Apologies. Consider it a “Freudian slip” of the thumb...

If people are going to publicly put forth pseudo-scientific theories based upon a single and highly controversial approach, they are open to criticism. As you are probably aware, not all doctorates are the same, and I attempted to be as thorough as possible when evaluating the authors’ credentials. Had they incorporated the research of actual psychologists and psychiatrists, this would not have been an issue.

Your reference to basic training is very interesting, as it parallels my thinking from our discussions of violent non-state actors, as I have argued in other discussions that strong and friendly states are the answer to both violent non-state actors as well as strong and hostile states. At the human level, individuals who are attracted to violent ideologies tend to only lose this destructive attraction if offered a substitute ideology. This is why people with substance abuse problems often are “cured” by religion, why people change cults, why brown seamlessly became red in East Germany and why NKVD collaborators became Gestapo/SS collaborators before reverting back.

It is not enough to substitute freedom of choice for ideological discipline. Freedom is both a privilege and a burden, and being one’s own master does not mean that one’s goals are easy to attain. Most people want some degree of spiritual and temporal discipline, doctrine and all. So must we impose a “friendly” ideology on those immigrants we suspect of suffering from brutalization or trauma? Should we conscript them as part of an assimilation process?

Historically, you are incorrect that there was any meaningful resistance to Allied occupation in Germany or Japan. Not only can no postwar fatalities be attributed to German resistance, but Japan surrendered prior to Allied occupation.

Continuing on the historical side, the ascendancy of religious ideology tends to coincide with the failure of secular ideology. In the Muslim world, both religious revivalism and authoritarian nationalism arose as the last Caliphate – the Ottoman Empire – declined and then collapsed entirely. Yet Islamist violence only became a serious problem when authoritarian nationalism failed: when Ba’athism and Nasserism were broken on the rock of Israel, when Pakistan was broken by Indian power and Bengali nationalism, and when the Pahlavi dynasty was perceived to be corrupt and foreign. Islamism should have been an expected response to these developments.

Ideologies all involve things that they are for, things that they are against, rewards and punishments. In Western Europe in 1945, supporters of National Socialism were comprehensively disabused of their notions by death, devastation and complete defeat. They were deprived of material comforts as well as freedom, and mere daily survival was the only ideology they followed. Yet imagine if the Allies had merely gone home after the captured Axis soldiers were disarmed. Even if the Red Army did not move an inch, a new ideology would have arisen: probably Communism, but certainly not liberal democracy. Focusing on VE or VJ day makes as much sense as focusing on the “Mission Accomplished” banner in 2003. The U.S. won the peace in Western Europe and Japan by staying. Cultural differences aside, the U.S. reconstructed the postwar societies as being for freedom and democracy, against totalitarianism. The reward was material necessities and then later prosperity; the punishment for deviation was already known. Over seventy years later, the U.S. is still engaged in winning the peace, even if the efforts in the 1940s-1960s were monumentally greater.

Absent a similar approach in the Muslim world, the U.S. is faced with unrelenting low-level conflict. It can always rely upon Stalinist measures, but these would take a greater effort than a Marshall Plan, and would benefit no one.

From our article above:

BEGIN QUOTE

The Epidemiology of Extremism and Radicalization

The Relationship Between Trauma Transference, Countertransference and Extremism

The cognitive and subconscious minds of traumatized refugees continuously seek to reestablish their relationship with reality. Unaided by supportive intervention, the refugees’ thought patterns seek out explanatory meanings that relieve their suffering. Two common modes of transference entail the psychic extremes of idealization, and devaluation. For example, many find that their suffering is relieved by meanings-explanations that are based on safety-security, where the host-population takes on the role of idealized savior or rescuer. For others, suffering is relieved by affixing responsibility for their suffering, often as a relief from unbearable survivor guilt. In this version of transference, the host-population takes on the role of betrayer and devalued, because they were culpable witness to the death families without intervening to save them. These two examples illustrate the vulnerable state of mind of the refugees as they search for meaning-explanations that support the reestablishment of their personal and family relationship with reality.

END QUOTE

From the United Nations paper: "Worldwide Displacement Hits All-Time High As War And Persecution Increase."

BEGIN QUOTE

Syria is the world’s biggest producer of both internally displaced people (7.6 million) and refugees (3.88 million at the end of 2014). Afghanistan (2.59 million) and Somalia (1.1 million) are the next biggest refugee source countries.

END QUOTE

http://www.unhcr.org/en-us/news/latest/2015/6/558193896/worldwide-displa...

Question:

Given the U.S./the West's responsibility for many of the refugee crises in the world today -- especially as relates to Syria --

Then would it be wrong to suggest that:

a. As a third, more-properly related -- and thus more-reasonable "explanatory meaning" for the refugee's suffering and related radicalization today -- that

b. The refugees might -- in a completely rational fashion -- (a) come to blame the U.S./the West for their suffering but (b) for a completely different reason than that suggested by our authors?

Thus:

a. Not as per the "two common modes of transference" noted in my quoted paragraph of this article above (" ... safety-security, where the host-population takes on the role of idealized savior or rescuer. ... betrayer and devalued, because they were culpable witness to the death families without intervening to save them.") But, rather,

b. As per the seemingly more-logical explanation -- that I have suggested immediately above (example: "the U.S./the West is responsible due to its ill-advised interventions; which, indeed, is the -- true and correct -- proximate cause of my, and my countries', and other countries' and other populations' also, plight.")

(Thus an explanation which, for example, if the shoe were on the other foot and we had been the ones that had been displaced by the misguided efforts of an alien and profane intervening foreign power, and thus had endured much suffering and had become refugees because of same, that we, ourselves, would -- rationally and logically -- have adopted as our "transference" model?)

Bill C.,

You're absolutely correct. The refugees should be angry at their hosts and the ones paying for the UNHCR facilities, not the ones shooting, starving, bombing, gassing and cleansing them from their homes...

Azor,
I understand your dim views but the essay was concerned with the causes of irrational communal violence not violence inspired by the super-natural.

You have an experience with super-naturally inspired folks that is outside of my own experience but I don't think it is fair to dimiss the view of those who have experienced political violence that is based on self-destructive mental trauma.

I am also not as familiar as you obviously are with the academic qualifications of the writers of this essay but I don't believe your opinion of the quality of their education to be as damning as you imply.

Maybe they aren't as taken as some by listing their degrees rather than looking for another job.

Speaking of psyco-babble how familiar are you with the symptoms of confirmation
bias?;)

Azor,
I understand your dim views but the essay was concerned with the causes of irrational communal violence not violence inspired by the super-natural.
You have an experience with super-naturally inspired folks that is outside of my own experience but I don't think it is fair to dismiss the view of those who have experienced political violence that is based on self-destructive mental trauma.
I am also not as familiar as you obviously are with the academic qualifications of the writers of this essay but I don't believe your opinion of the quality of their education to be as damning as you imply.
Maybe they aren't as taken as some by listing their degrees rather than looking for another job.
Speaking of psyco-babble how familiar are you with the symptoms of confirmation
bias?;)

First off, I would reply that I don't find the violence to be particularly irrational. Why? Because the prime mover is supremacy. We are well-versed in subversion, guerrilla warfare and total warfare by oppressed or weaker actors against stronger actors and in which equality or self-determination is or is perceived to be the prime mover e.g. WWII partisans, IRA, ETA, PIRA, PKK, PLO, PKK, Mujaheddin, etc. In the case of Salafi-Takfiri-Jihadis, supremacy over other Muslims and non-Muslims alike is the ultimate goal.

Yes, everyone should have the opportunity to go from zero to hero, but there should be deterrence and punishment of those that attempt to do so at the expense of others.

As far as individual or collective trauma is concerned, it is not a major determinant of political violence, even if it is usually a common denominator. What of all the traumatized people who do not take it out on others?

I simply can't trust people who are shilling for their consultancy, and who are not psychologists but who are promoting an approach based on one particular, controversial and arguably discredited school of psychology.

The individuals chosen by states and by non-state actors to commit political violence tend not to be the most "well-adjusted" people. There will always be individuals who try to cause mass casualty events, but we should be focused on the organizations - intellectual and hierarchical - that focus, enable and legitimize this behavior. Behind every suicide bomber is a cynic prepared to fight to the last of his adherents.

Azor wrote:

'In the case of Salafi-Takfiri-Jihadis, supremacy over other Muslims and non-Muslims alike is the ultimate goal.'

Forgive me, but my understanding is folks who describe themselves, as you describe them above, claim inspiration from the super-natural i.e. God. Have I got that right?

And again:

'There will always be individuals who try to cause mass casualty events, but we should be focused on the organizations - intellectual and hierarchical - that focus, enable and legitimize this behavior.'

I couldn't agree more but in my experience the Arabs, Persians and Pakistanis who run the above organizations are Western educated and trained - most having a portion of their training in the West at a military or academic university - are politically inspired. Their beliefs in the super-natural have very little influence in how they carry out their day job of sticking it to the West. The folks I have encountered would find the God angle imbecilic.

You misunderstand me, RantCorp. I regard religion merely as a form of ideology. In my view, a person’s membership in a religious organization is not indicative of more spiritual belief than a person who identifies as spiritual but not religious. For instance, the hordes of Catholic, Lutheran and Anabaptist mercenaries who devastated Central Europe in the 17th Century were probably far less spiritual than the great armies which devastated it again from 1941-1945, despite the latter’s’ explicit rejection of traditional religion. The lust for power over others – supremacy – is not a spiritual concept: it is very human and belongs to the temporal plane. Supremacism is a very personal inspiration, however the person excuses it e.g. following orders, group consensus, ancient texts, a supreme being, a supreme leader, historical determinism.

Unfortunately, appeal to Muslim clerics, to better reading of ancient Arabic or to the “softer” side of the Quran or Hadiths will only help minimize the issue.

Azor,
If you describe folks as Jihadi, Islamist. Mujaheddin, Muslim etc.I find it difficult to understand how you can avoid a direct connection to the spiritual beliefs of 1.5 billion people and your argument remains within a certain framework

If you describe folks as fascist, racist, bigoted or just plain Fruitcake nobody draws upon a set of spiritual or religious understandings and the argument could not be more different.

RantCorp,

I am separating individual spiritual beliefs from a collective ideology and identity as an adherent of that ideology.

Currently, many Russians subscribe to the state's curious blend of Czarist, Soviet and Fascist trappings, but I wouldn't waste time explaining how the "Caesaro-Papism" of the Greek Orthodox Church impacts Russian politics...

Azor,

When folks across the globe build a million or so 'temples' in which to worship the Russian Mafia we might have to redress how we offend people's spiritual identities - but until that day......?

However to return to the subject matter of this essay, there is an argument that the social trauma inflicted on billions of people by Communism and the emergence of Mafia style governance in places such as Russia, China, eastern Europe, the Balkan's etc could be explained by the same PTSD that afflicts so many long-term refugees.

RantCorp,

People worshiped Hitler and we paid them no mind. I do not know what you mean by "offending people's spiritual identities", especially as most of these alleged "refugees" - as opposed to welfare migrants - seek to settle in societies with freedom of expression, including offensive expression.

In Russia, it is hard to say whether collective trauma from the Stalinist period and Hitler's invasion still lingers. I would imagine that it becomes diluted over generations, and as early as 1968 Russians were far less willing to commit brutality at the behest of the state than say in 1956.

Unfortunately, there is an element of personal choice to trauma. Do you move on? Do you carry it as a cross to bear? Do you pass it on to others? Do you strive to stop it in its tracks?

Doubtless, someone at the Small Wars "Empire" was probably expecting me to weigh in critically, so I shan't disappoint.

Firstly, I take a dim view of relying upon Freudian and Jungian psychoanalysis, particularly given the harsh but reasonable criticism that this approach has received, as well as the other approaches that may be equally if not more useful in studying and minimizing ideological violence.

Secondly, it would have been interesting if the authors had separated the issue of refugee or migrant radicalization from the issue of ideological violence. Is trauma always a prerequisite for those who are ideologically violent, and what sorts of trauma? Does collective suffering create a group identity or sense of belonging on the basis of that suffering? What of individuals who are not traumatized in the experiential sense, but who are sadists, and see ideological violence as an opportunity to practice sanctioned sadism? What of those who suffer trauma but are not radical or violent?

Thirdly, none of the authors actually have graduate or postgraduate degrees in psychology or psychiatry, which I would consider necessary to render these sweeping assertions in the absence of a litany of academic references beyond psychoanalysis.

Short of some major revisions of the premises and concrete solutions beyond vague psychoanalytic lingo, I can only assume that this piece is intended to raise the profile of the authors and their firm Válka‐Mír Human Security, for the rational and conscious purpose of securing government consultancy contracts.

Well knock me down with a feather. After nearly 30 years of reading so much horseshit about why we continue to screw the pooch along come a bunch of doctors who understand why the enemy can fight us to a standstill. The fact that if you observe the enemy closely in his/her unguarded moments the behavioral tics so well encapsulated in this essay become obvious should not distract from the exemplary insight of this paper.

And some of them are at Bragg - and even Tampa – will the wonders never cease!

Note the complete lack of the super-natural in explaining why the enemy does the things he/she does and the self-loathing altered potential of the traumatized mind. Think permanent sadistic Boot Camp for the first 18 years of your life, as well as that of your entire family, and you might begin to understand the cognitive implications bouncing around inside the enemy’s head.

You could lift this piece out of the ISI, Mabahith, IRGC Small Wars Recruit Handbook.

There are 60 million people staggering around the globe with this mental baggage ticking away inside their heads, I would suggest there are just as many again who we don’t even recognize as refugees because they don’t appear to be financially destitute. Unfortunately for us the Fruitcake have no problem recognizing who these people are and how to get inside their minds.

Brilliant work, wonderfully succinct explanations of the most complex of all things - the violent human mind.

TC: "After nearly 30 years of reading so much horseshit about why we continue to screw the pooch along come a bunch of doctors who understand why the enemy can fight us to a standstill."

It is not about "fighting to a standstill". It is about some occupied adversaries' refusal to cooperate or obey.

In 1945, when American forces occupied Japan, Italy and Germany, resistance either in the form of civil disobedience or violent insurrection, was non-existent. Nor was it present among the peoples governed by Quislings.

In 1928-1930, the Soviet government faced both from many of its Belorussian, Kazakh and Ukrainian subjects, which together comprised a significant part of the Soviet population. The Soviets were adept at harnessing tens of millions of people, whereas the Germans were relatively unsuccessful in that regard.

Think about the whys. Why were Taiwan and South Korea okay, but not South Vietnam? Who is angry with the U.S. in Afghanistan and Iraq, and why specifically?

Did Islamic fundamentalism develop because of waxing European-Christian power, or because of waning Ottoman power? Why was did Arab nationalism trump Islamism until the early 1980s?

It's not supernatural. Nor is it because of bad mothering. ;)

Azor "Think about the whys. Why were Taiwan and South Korea okay, but not South Vietnam? Who is angry with the U.S. in Afghanistan and Iraq, and why specifically?"

So what are the "why" that I am missing?

Not being an asshole (or more of one than normal), would really like to know your thought pattern here. You seem to point toward some cultural reason for these differences, but I am not sure what you are really trying to say.

First, I am not RantCorp.

Second, your view of human nature is appallingly shallow. Based on your understanding of psychology (and I did not see a PhD. after your name) then Basic Training and Boot Camp should not work. You can never break down a person's identity and replace it with another one that conforms to your desires, and even gets them to kill and die for you. In the case of the Army and Marines it is intentional. In the case of a refugee it can happen on its own, depending on the person's circumstances.

Third, your view of the Post WWII periods in Germany and Japan are incorrect. There was resistance in Germany. Check out the Art of Bill Mauldin who documented the slogans written on walls during the early parts of the occupation. It was more the total dearth of young men of fighting age that were part of the general population and the threat of the Russians that kept resistance to a minimum. As for Japan, there was also resistance until the Emperor publically announced the surrender and that all should lay down their arms. Italy I must admit I never researched.