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Intermittent, not sudden

Reader comment on item: [Naveed Haq and] "Sudden Jihad Syndrome" in Seattle

Submitted by Michael (United States), Aug 12, 2006 at 11:30

As a psychologist I think Dr. Pipes is insightful by identifying "sudden Jihad syndrome" in the article below. The Psychiatric profession has a formal diagnosis for such behavior. It is called Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED). This condition requires aggressive/assaultive behavior disproportionate (a popular word lately) to the psychosocial stressors facing the individual and not better explained by another mental disorder. Unemployed/financially stressed individuals with another psychiatric diagnosis would probably not qualify for a diagnosis of IED.

What is significant about Dr. Pipes' insight is the intermittent explosive behavior of people who have been relentlessly immersed in Jihadist ideology. This explains why seemingly benign individuals seemingly suddenly become assaultive. They might not always engage in assaultive or warlike behavior, but intermittently do so depending on the interaction between life circumstances and their psychological state.

Why is this important to understand? Countering the ideological immersion that provides the foundation for such behaviors, regardless of their label is critical to surviving this conflict. Changing such ingrained beliefs requires deprogramming or similar psychological processes in my opinion. The West is still struggling with how to counter the psychological sophistication of Jihadist rhetoric, indoctrination and repetitive anti-freedom, demonizing messages.

Intermittent Jihadists probably make up a small percentage of those who participate in assaultive behavior. In light of recent events most Jihadists are probably part of an organized or semi-organized group acting with pre-meditation under instruction from a local or centralized leader.

Teams of mental health practitioners and scholars may need to be engaged in developing counter- Jihadist indoctrination techniques, strategies and messages. Gaining access to high risk individuals in order to counter such approaches will still be the key. As prisons may be a recruiting ground for Jihadists so could they be centers for counter-Jihad interventions.


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