Deutsch: Terrorismus / Español: Terrorismo / Português: Terrorismo / Français: Terrorisme / Italian: Terrorismo

Terrorism in the psychology context involves studying the psychological aspects and impacts of terrorist acts, both on individuals and society. It encompasses understanding the motivations of terrorists, the psychological effects on victims and communities, and the broader social and political implications.


In psychology, terrorism is analysed to understand the complex motivations behind terrorist acts and the profound psychological impacts on individuals and societies. Psychologists study terrorism to comprehend why individuals or groups engage in violent acts, the mental health consequences for victims and communities, and strategies for prevention and rehabilitation.

The motivations behind terrorism are multifaceted and can include ideological, political, religious, and social factors. Psychological theories suggest that terrorists might be driven by a sense of injustice, a desire for revenge, or the need to belong to a group. Some individuals may be more susceptible to radicalization due to personal grievances, psychological vulnerabilities, or exposure to extremist ideologies.

The psychological effects of terrorism are extensive. Victims and witnesses can suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. Communities affected by terrorism may experience a heightened sense of fear, mistrust, and social fragmentation. Additionally, the media's portrayal of terrorism can exacerbate these psychological impacts by perpetuating fear and anxiety.

Special: Radicalization Process

The process of radicalization involves individuals adopting extreme beliefs and attitudes that justify the use of violence to achieve their goals. Psychologists identify several stages in this process:

  1. Pre-radicalization: Individuals live ordinary lives before being exposed to radical ideologies.
  2. Self-identification: Exposure to extremist views leads individuals to explore and adopt these beliefs.
  3. Indoctrination: Intensified belief in the ideology and a readiness to act violently.
  4. Jihadization: Active involvement in planning and executing terrorist acts.

Understanding this process helps in developing interventions to prevent radicalization and support de-radicalization efforts.

Application Areas

Psychological research on terrorism is applied in various areas, including:

  1. Counter-terrorism: Developing strategies to prevent terrorist acts and mitigate their impact.
  2. Victim Support: Providing psychological assistance to those affected by terrorism.
  3. Policy-making: Informing policies to address the root causes of terrorism and support affected communities.
  4. Law Enforcement Training: Educating officers on the psychological aspects of terrorism to improve response strategies.
  5. Community Resilience: Enhancing community cohesion and resilience to reduce the impact of terrorism.

Well-Known Examples

  1. 9/11 Attacks: The psychological impact of the September 11 attacks on individuals and American society.
  2. London Bombings (7/7): The effects of the 2005 bombings on survivors and the city's psychological landscape.
  3. Paris Attacks (2015): The mental health repercussions for victims and the broader community.
  4. Madrid Train Bombings (2004): Psychological aftermath and the response strategies employed.

Treatment and Risks

Psychological interventions for terrorism focus on both prevention and treatment:

  1. Preventive Measures: Programs aimed at reducing radicalization through community engagement and education.
  2. Therapeutic Support: Providing trauma-focused therapy for victims and survivors of terrorist attacks.
  3. De-radicalization Programs: Initiatives to help individuals leave extremist groups and reintegrate into society.

However, there are risks and challenges, including:

  1. Re-traumatization: Victims reliving traumatic events during therapy sessions.
  2. Stigmatization: Individuals associated with terrorism facing social stigma.
  3. Security Concerns: Balancing the need for surveillance with respecting individual rights.

Symptoms, Therapy, and Healing


  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Depression
  • Survivor guilt


  • Trauma-focused Cognitive-behavioural Therapy (CBT): Helps victims process and manage trauma.
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): Reduces distress associated with traumatic memories.
  • Group Therapy: Provides social support and shared experiences for victims.


  • Community Support: Encouraging community involvement to foster resilience.
  • Psychosocial Rehabilitation: Assisting victims in returning to normal life through vocational and social support.
  • Public Awareness: Educating the public about the psychological impacts of terrorism to reduce stigma and promote empathy.

Similar Terms

  • Radicalization: The process by which individuals come to adopt extremist beliefs and ideologies.
  • Extremism: Holding extreme political or religious views that advocate for radical change.
  • Trauma: The psychological impact of experiencing or witnessing distressing events.
  • Resilience: The ability to recover from or adapt to adversity and stress.

Articles with 'Terrorism' in the title

  • Bioterrorism: Bioterrorism refers to the intentional or threatened use of viruses, bacteria, fungi, or toxins from living organisms to produce death or disease in humans, animals, or plants
  • International terrorism: International terrorism refers to the unlawful use of force or violence by a group or an individual who has some connection to a foreign power or whose activities transcend national boundaries, against people or property to intimidate or . . .



In the psychology context, terrorism involves the study of the motivations behind terrorist acts and the psychological impacts on individuals and societies. This includes understanding the radicalization process, providing support to victims, and developing prevention and intervention strategies. The field addresses the complex interplay between individual psychology, societal influences, and the profound consequences of terrorist activities.