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Opinions Published to Date on the 'Causes' of Terrorism (Overview), (From Causes of Terrorism in the Federal Republic of Germany, P 45-59, 1978, Hans-Dieter Schwind, ed. - See NCJ-72531)

NCJ Number
H Schwind
Date Published
15 pages
Social and psychological causes of terrorism discussed in published literature are outlined to facilitate development of preventive measures.
Almost all authors trace the origins of terrorism to the student protest movements of the sixties, although specific causes vary. Among them are the conflict between a passionate desire for revolutionary change by an intellectual minority and the antirevolutionary mood and moral limitations of the general population; an impatience for the realization of ideals by sensitive young people for whom security and prosperity have become routine; and concessions by politicians to members of the left who despise the political system. Causes also cited are self-justification and orientation problems of middle-class individuals who must undergo a prolonged period of professional training without material or moral support of their parents; and a permissive society which allows democratic guarantees to be used against it. In one view, no typical terrorist personality can identified, but media publicity and support of some factions of the public have expanded the terrorists' sphere of influence. The involvement of upper middle class young people in terrorist activities is interpreted as the result of alienation because of the replacement of human relationships by impersonal market and money relationships. Finally, from one analyst's perspective, hate of the state and its representatives results from radical criticism of democracy instead of rational problem-solving. Psychological and psychiatric explanations of terrorist activities are rare, probably because terrorists refuse to cooperate. However, researchers blame terrorist involvement on individual neuroses and antiauthoritarian education, confusion of young women from established families about their life roles, and identity crises. --in German.


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