Discuss the psychology of a suicide bomber.
Model answer outline :
By instinct, everyone wants to save his or her life. This is next to physiological needs in Maslow’s opinion. Everyone, has instinct to protect his/her existence. Then the question is : What motivates a person to sacrifice his life for a cause?
The nature of human motivation is quite complex. In terms of Abraham Maslow, we, human beings have both basic motivation originating from some deficiencies ( hunger, thirst,) and metamotivation that are because of being needs. Need for self respect, freedom, actualization etc are due to being needs.
If we try to understand the psychology of suicide bomber, it is clear that his motivation to end himself /herself is because of this higher order motivation. No body will end his life just for money. But one can do the same for the ” MatriBhumi” ( mother land) as the latter is related to his/her emitonal /self identity. LTTE, reportedly first to use suicide bomber ignited this need to motivate a bomber to sacrifice his life. One intercept of LTTE cheif says ” If you die, lacs of your women, children will survive…if you die, this motherland will be indebted to you.. And what is there in living like a slave or insect….”.
Kasab discloser during narcoanalysis revealed that he had been brainwashed for the sake of Allah or religious cause. His sacrifice would be instrumental for the change for the followers of Islam.. He was fed with such altruisms.
Analytically speaking, radicalisation of minds with fundamentalism( beliefs) motivates an individual to think in black and white. All the suffering of the in group members is attributed to out group members.
Here role of some leader is very important who keeps motivating, guiding and envisioning the puspose of life to such an individual.
Moreover, personality traits of the individual is also important. All people are not equally prone to get influenced by such philosophy. Research in social psychology reveals that individuals having very low self esteem and obsession are most likely to be influenced by such philosophy. Social identity theory (Tajfel) says that identity need is very crucial. It motivates people think about identity even after death. ( like Martyrs).
A suicide bomber’s psychology is not different from the psychology of a soldier. Both are willing and ready to sacrifice their lives for the cause that is related to their being needs of justice, freedom and respect. And both believe that such a sacrifice is for the sake of their group. This is also like an instinct. ( Sociobiology, by Wilson).