Social norms play a key role on how people should behave and act in groups or societies. If an individual were to abandon these norms, others will criticize the individual for doing so. To learn and understand these social norms, social interaction is very important. Robert Brym (2012) states that "social interaction is of such fundamental importance that, without it, individuals would not be able to develop a sense of identity, an idea that they are" (p.49). This also applies to suicide bombers. Some counties, believe that these deviant acts are justified in the Middle East and used to achieve political goals. Using the work from Robert Brym (2012) and Kevin Peraino (2008), this paper will show how psychopathology, clash of civilization, deprivation, and differential association, were introduced as theories on explaining the motives of suicide bombers.
History of Suicide Attacks
The history on the use of suicide attacks by terrorist dates back to ancient times. Terrorist suicide attacks are not a new method but are a very old method of operation. Before the late nineteenth century, suicide attackers used hand weapons to kill their victims in public places to assure publicity of their act. In World War 2, suicide attacks called Kamikaze were incorporated by the Japanese Empire, when a pilot crashes the plane into a target, as a way of showing pride and honour for the Empire. After the invention of dynamite in the late nineteenth century, terrorists began using bombs in their attacks. This method of attack made it easier for terrorists to achieve their goals. For example, with the old method of using hand weapons, the suicide attacks got harder when the target had some sort of protection. However, with the new method of using bombs, even if the target has protection, the suicide bomber only has to get the target within the blast radius and blow up. Hence, suicide attacks using bombs made it easier for terrorists to achieve their goals.
Although psychopathology was not a criminological or sociological theory learned in class, it was still the first well-known explanation proposed. Psychologist introduced psychopathology because of an incident that involved a suicide bombing on the U.S. Marine barrack in Beirut in 1983, which a sole survivor saw the face of the bomber (Brym, 2012). "He looked right at me and smile," the survivor recalls (Brym, 2012, p. 37). The western observers quickly passed a verdict that "people who are willing to blow themselves up to kill others must be abnormal, and if they die happily they must surely be deranged" (Brym, 2012, p.37). The Beirut bomber was characterized as an unstable individual with a death wish by several psychologists, although they lacked of evidence of the bomber's state of mind (Brym, 2012). Similarly, "following the September 11, 2001, suicide attacks on the United States, U.S. government and media emphasis the supposed irrationality and insanity of the bomber, again without the proper supporting data" (Brym, 2012, p.37). With such claims, destined suicide bombers were interviewed and reconstruction of the biographies of successful suicide bombers does not show a higher rate of psychopathology than the general population (Brym, 2012). To support this statement, a study was conducted of all 462 suicide bombers between 1980 and 2003, and found not a single case of depression, psychosis, past suicide attempts, and so forth (Brym, 2012). Evidence collected by other experts actually shows that recruits were pulled out if they displayed signs of pathological behaviour for the organizational security (Brym, 2012). Hence, the explanation of suicide bombers based on psychopathology is no help to understand the rise of suicide bombing in the world.
Brym (2012) presents "the second explanation of suicide bombers based on the deprivation theory which characterizes the...