Religious terrorism or mental illness?

Lauren Cox’s Fort Hood Motive Terrorism or Mental Illness? brings up some very interesting questions about Nidal Malik Hasan’s shooting rampage at Fort Hood. Was he fighting for Islam, or was he lonely and insane? Or was it both?

“I think it would be a mistake for people to theorize [he did this] because he is an adherent of this or that religious faith,” said Dinwiddie, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at the University of Chicago. “The mental illness comes first, then flowing from that is the adoption of perhaps, unusual, religious beliefs.”

Afkhami also wondered if the public will place too much emphasis on Hasan’s religion. Based on Afkhami’s experience lecturing and working with the military, and plain common sense, it follows that few, if any, of those who oppose the war have turned to radical acts such as a shooting rampage.

“We’re missing a core underlying issue, there are tons of religious folks who are morally opposed to the war on some level who are still serving in the military and get things done,” said Afkhami.

Rather, Afkhami is convinced that a combination of stressors in Hasan’s life — especially in his role as a military psychiatrist — could have led him to a breakdown.

In this story, and in many things posted on this blog, we can see how religion and insanity (or even just power – take George W. Bush and his conversations with god for example) mix with dangerous results. If someone is feeling persecuted, and their religion says they’re on the side of god while others are evildoers, the stage is set for god-sanctioned retribution.

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