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"Blow up for nothing?
May 31, 2002 9:44 AM   Subscribe

"Blow up for nothing? What is this - trading in the blood of martyrs only so that my handlers can say that they executed the operation?" Tawriya Hamamra, a young Palestinian woman, who had barely an hour's training in preparation for a suicide bombing recounts her change of heart. Just how much religion, politics, or personal problems motivates a suicide?
posted by semmi (10 comments total)

 
How much? Too much!
posted by dagny at 11:24 AM on May 31, 2002


The twistedness of the mindset of the homicide bomber comes out in startling clarity here -- to commit a wanton, craven act of indescriminate mass murder? Plum dandy! To wear makeup, loose hair and tight trousers? Inconceivable.

This is not activism spawned by desperation. This isn't even depravity. This is mental illness.
posted by Dreama at 12:10 PM on May 31, 2002


This is mental illness.

Because their values differ dramatically from your own, they are mentally ill? That's quite a stretch.
posted by rushmc at 4:01 PM on May 31, 2002


Maybe not, but to couch indiscriminate murder in terms of diversity of opinion is mental illness.
posted by scottfree at 4:11 PM on May 31, 2002


No, no, I don't think you'll find that one in the DSM-IV, either....
posted by rushmc at 6:03 PM on May 31, 2002


Because their values differ dramatically from your own, they are mentally ill? That's quite a stretch.

No, because they demonstrate a complete callousness toward those who provide them with no perceived benefit; have a clearly indicated indifference to human life; show an inordinately high level of insular self-interest and willingness to undertake outrageous and criminal behaviour for their own self-aggrandisement; demonstrate an inability to think logically or balance actions and consequences in a fashion appropriate to their chronological age and apparent development. That all falls in line with Antisocial Personality Disorder -- aka sociopathy -- which is, indeed, in the DSM-IV.
posted by Dreama at 8:35 PM on May 31, 2002


Well parried, Dreama.

I do wonder, though, about the fact that this particular bomber had, as was pointed out, only an hour's training. I had thought that suicide-bomber-dom was an occupation (or an attribute) that took years of indoctrination to hone. Is her (I hate to type the word) failure, then, a failure related to her personal typography, or a failure of the process?
posted by yhbc at 8:45 PM on May 31, 2002


That all falls in line with Antisocial Personality Disorder -- aka sociopathy -- which is, indeed, in the DSM-IV.

Perhaps. Of course, the DSM-IV is a Western creation. Everything is context.
posted by rushmc at 8:52 PM on May 31, 2002


'Everything' is not context. The diagnosis of mental illness is sometimes soft and squishy, but sometimes it is not. Schizophrenia, for example, is a well-characterized pattern of abnormal thought and behavior that has been described in about 1% of every population that has been studied, worldwide. Some things are context-free.

That having been said... I don't think suicide/homicide bombers are truly sociopaths, who are killers rather than suicides, and who are motivated by self-interest, not religious or political conviction. Terrorist bombers are psychologically twisted, but I'm not sure there is a formal psychiatric definition for them. They're religious/political fanatics, who are willing to put aside normal codes of moral behavior to achieve a political end. They're in the same spectrum of human behavior as the Unabomber, Earth First tree-spikers, Timothy McVeigh, Guy Fawkes, or the Haymarket bombers.

What's most interesting in this story is that this woman failed as a suicide bomber because of a dissonance of her moral codes. She wanted to help her people (which is how she perceived the suicide bombing), but believes that it is an offense to God not to dress in traditional Arab garb, and was unable to put aside the second belief so she could pursue the first.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 5:45 AM on June 1, 2002


Schizophrenia, for example, is a well-characterized pattern of abnormal thought and behavior that has been described in about 1% of every population that has been studied, worldwide.

Abnormal means different things in different contexts. In some societies, schizophrenics have been revered because of their behavior and thought patterns; in ours, they are shunned and medicated.

What's most interesting in this story is that this woman failed as a suicide bomber because of a dissonance of her moral codes.

Agreed.
posted by rushmc at 6:10 AM on June 1, 2002


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