Nobody Born a Terrorist, but Early Childhood Matters: Explaining the Jihadis’ Lack of Empathy

Nancy Hartevelt Kobrin

Abstract


In the Qur’an, Allah is described as ‘merciful’ and ‘compassionate’. Why do we find no reflection of that among jihadis who claim to struggle in his name? Jihadis only possess a pseudo sense of empathy. They may appear to be empathic but it is a narcissistic empathy, for they are only empathic within their own group; it does not extend anywhere into their external world as evidenced by their murderous destructive behaviors.[1] Their stoic, dissociated affect shows neither compassion nor remorse as their fellow brethren engage in wanton beheadings and executions. In shame honor societies where children are humiliated and laughed at for having feelings and emotionality, it is no wonder that the capacity for empathy did not develop during their early years. Research by neuroscientists and mental health experts has shown strong links between violence and early childhood. The following observations seek to apply this perspective to jihadist terrorism.



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ENHANCING SECURITY THROUGH COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH

Perspectives on Terrorism is  a journal of the Terrorism Research Initiative and the Center for Terrorism and Security Studies

ISSN  2334-3745 (Online)

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