Psychological Dimensions to War and Peace
In the four edited volumes of the Psychology of Terrorism, Dr. Chris Stout and forty-three contributing authors have explored terrorism from the perspectives of psychological theory, therapy, history, sociology, political science, international relations, religion, anthropology, and other disciplines. These authors have brought differing viewpoints and they offer different views. In some cases the reader might even wonder if these authors have been addressing different subjects and different realities.
But this is the fundamental anomaly in the study of terrorism. On the one hand, it is easy to oversimplify and explain terrorism. On the other hand, recent events show us how difficult it is truly to understand terrorism, much less to know how to deal with it both reasonably and effectively. There is no universally agreed-upon definition of terrorism. Views on terrorism are often politically driven and it seems to be easier to cloud the discussion than to agree on an understanding. The issue urgently demands immediate solutions but these solutions appear to be a long way off.
As we look back over the ten years that preceded September 11, 2001, it seems we all missed the signals—the bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the USS Cole, and the federal building in Oklahoma City; the gas attack on the Tokyo subway; and of course the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center itself. Did our world actually change on that one day or were we only coming to realize as we watched the events in helpless disbelief that our understanding of the world had been wrong?