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Terrorism: A (Self) Love Story

Psychology@LSE department hosted a lecture titled: Terrorism: A (Self) Love Story 

In these early years of the 21st century terrorism constitutes a ubiquitous threat to the security of most nations; billions are spent in the global war on terrorism, thousands of militants are killed every year, yet like with the heads of the mythical Hydra thousands of others seem to flock in their place. Not only do they arrive from faraway lands, but they seem increasingly bred in our own midst, rejecting the freedoms and privileges of Western democracies and sacrificing their lives in attempt to destroy them. Who are these people ? What makes them ready to kill and be killed ? What leads them to their desperate extremism ? Understanding these matters in depth could be a necessary first step for counteracting this pernicious phenomenon. In this lecture I will describe psychological attempts to unravel the mysteries of terrorism. I will discuss where psychologists may have gone wrong, and where the right answers might lie. I will discuss evidence that demystifies terrorism and identifies the psychological forces that,  in the right circumstances, could turn us all into terrorists. And I will discuss how the main motivational force behind terrorism, the quest for personal significance, could be turned around with an eye to ending violence.

Arie Kruglanski, Distinguished University Professor at Maryland University, is expert on the psychology of terrorism.