Rethinking suicide bombing

Crisis. 2009;30(2):94-7. doi: 10.1027/0227-5910.30.2.94.


Background: Current issues in the emerging psychiatric literature on suicide bombing tend to center around the pathologies of suicide bombers and the role of psychiatry as an adequate tool for analysis.

Aims: Attention to broader social science research may allow mental health professionals to develop more accurate models of behavior to explain and possibly prevent future attacks.

Methods: The psychiatric literature on suicide bombing was reviewed and compared to similar anthropological literature.

Results: A probe into the methodologies of researching suicide bombing, definitions of "war" and "terrorism", and beliefs on life, death, homicide, and suicide demonstrate that most of the psychiatric literature reflects a particular perspective which aspires towards a certain universalism.

Conclusions: Anthropological approaches can disclose standpoints taken for granted since any interventions with respect to suicide bombing must eventually account for values which are ultimately culturally determined.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anthropology, Cultural
  • Bombs*
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Homicide / ethnology*
  • Homicide / prevention & control
  • Homicide / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Islam / psychology
  • Moral Obligations
  • Motivation
  • Religion and Psychology
  • Social Conditions
  • Social Values / ethnology
  • Suicide / ethnology*
  • Suicide / prevention & control
  • Suicide / psychology*
  • Terrorism / ethnology*
  • Terrorism / prevention & control
  • Terrorism / psychology*