PSYCHOLOGY IN REAL LIFE , 4

The concern for safety has accelerated in the past decade due to an increase on terrorist attacks. Terrorism has therefore been discussed based on the article ‘Bomber Wounds 32 in Attack in Istanbul’ as posted on October 31, 2010 in the New York Times. A suicide bomber wounded 15 policemen and 17 civilians in an attempt to attack police in Instanbul’s Taksim Square which is one of the busiest areas. (New York Times, 2010, pg A6). Police have refused to speculate on the bomber’s affiliation. Sunday was the last day of the cease-fire agreement between the government and The Kurdistan Workers Party militia hence they could be responsible though other militant groups have in the past carried out suicide bombings. The attack occurred at 10.30 a.m in Taksim Square, Beyoglu district which is usually full of tourists and civilians. A recent suicide attack close to Taskim Square carried out by leftist militias killed two policemen in 2001.In 2003, Al-Qaeda loyalists killed more than 60 people and wounded hundreds of others in attacks on the British Consulate, a British bank HSBC and two synagogues. The cease-fire agreement was one of a number that have been issued lately in an attempt to hold talks with the government. This suicide attacks have claimed more than 40,000 lives.
This essay reflects on the biological drive as a psychological factor in analyzing the case of suicide bombers. Though suicide bombers would want to prove fearlessness, the actual motives lies in a biological urge towards violence and cause as much harm as possible however detrimental or threatening the situation may be. This is therefore an important element in a comprehensive bio-psychosocial understanding of behavior. Oots and Wiegele argue that “social scientists who seek to understand terrorism should take account of the possibility that biological or physiological variables may play a role in bringing an individual to the point of performing an act of terrorism” Yet, it is rare that any biological studies are conducted on terrorists. One notable exception is an early finding by psychiatrist David Hubbard that a substantial portion of the terrorists he examined clinically suffered from some form of inner-ear problems or “vestibular dysfunction.” This finding has not been replicated, however, nor is there a clear theoretical rationale for a potential link to terrorism. A basic, cursory review of current knowledge on biological factors influencing aggression has been analyzed here-in.
Neurochemical Factors: Serotonin (5-HT), of all neurotransmitters in the mammalian brain, has received the most research attention and has shown the most consistent association with aggressive behavior. Lower levels of serotonin have been linked to higher levels of aggression in normal, clinical, and offender samples. The association between 5-HT deficits and aggression seem to be specific to impulsive, rather than premeditated aggressive behavior, which also appears to be mediated by perceived threat or provocation. Low levels of 5-HT may heighten one’s sensitivity or reactivity to cues of hostility or provocation. In the absence of provocative stimuli, decreased 5HT functioning may have little effect on the level of aggressive behavior exhibited by humans. Since Serotonin is primarily an inhibitory neurotransmitter, it is possible that deficits in 5-HT reduce inhibition of aggressive ideas/impulses that would otherwise be suppressed though evidence of their creation is not concrete.
As neurotransmitters, Norepinephrine NE may affect arousal and environmental sensitivity and Dopamine DA may affect behavioral activation and goal-directed behavior.
Compared to serotonin, the relationship between both dopamine and norepinephrine and human aggression is less clear. Although some studies have linked low levels of DA to increases in impulsive aggression, DA and 5-HT levels are correlated so it is particularly uncertain whether DA has any relationship to aggressive behavior independent of the effect of 5-HT.

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