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Psychological distress and terrorist engagement: Measuring, correlating, and sequencing its onset with negative life events, social factors, and protective factors

Corner, E; Gill, P; (2021) Psychological distress and terrorist engagement: Measuring, correlating, and sequencing its onset with negative life events, social factors, and protective factors. Transcultural Psychiatry 10.1177/13634615211023669. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

This article employs probability-based modelling to unpack the complex and multifaceted individual, social, and psychological processes that may provide psychological protection for individuals engaged with terrorist groups. We outline the predictors of the onset of psychological distress across two phases of terrorist involvement (pre-engagement and engagement). Using a dataset of 96 terrorist autobiographies, we conduct sequence analyses to pinpoint the onset of psychological problems and the experiences that preceded and followed this onset. The results demonstrate a complexity in the relationship between mental disorders and terrorist engagement, as well as the heterogeneity of the lived experience of “being” a terrorist. The experience of psychological distress was mediated by numerous factors and the combination of these factors. The evidence suggests that, in certain cases, individual and group resilience may be a protective factor when an individual faces negative experiences. The presence of protective factors may not be sufficient to explain why group-actor terrorists present with a lower than expected prevalence of mental disorder. Future work should examine whether experiences commonly viewed as risk factors may be more useful in examining the occurrence of psychopathology in terrorists.

Type: Article
Title: Psychological distress and terrorist engagement: Measuring, correlating, and sequencing its onset with negative life events, social factors, and protective factors
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/13634615211023669
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1177/13634615211023669
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: protective factors, psychological distress, psychopathology, terrorism, terrorist engagement
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Security and Crime Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10133474
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