(Photo above: Jihadis at a Saudi group therapy session)
I would say that the only way to make sure that Jihadis can not threaten our societies is to prevent them from being able to come here. And that those who are already here – including their supporters – are jailed for life in prisons outsourced to the Third World. The only effective treatment is medical – not psychological.
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By: Nicolai Sennels, psychologistDenmark, SwedenA�and USAA�are among the countries trying to counter Islamic terrorism by sending jihadis to psychologists. As an experienced psychologist within the field of treating violent and fundamentalist Muslims, I would say that the approach of stopping terrorism with psychotherapy is naive and impossible.
As a former psychologist in a Danish youth prison I have had more than a houndred Muslim clients (seven out of 10 inmates in Danish youth prisons are Muslims). You can read about my psychological findings here: Muslims and Westerners: The Psychological DifferencesA�- just google my name for more articles. I developed a kind of therapy that took into account the Muslim clients’ cultural back ground, focusing on anger, victim mentality and relaxation. The therapy was successful in the way that it caught the interest of the Muslim clients, as more than 90 percent of the Muslim inmates voluntarily came for therapy. Word about my methods and success spread outside the prison, and has been described in Danish magazines for professional social workers and therapists. I have also given interviews to newspapers and national radio about my therapeutical techniques. I even wrote a book about it, which recieve many fine reviews, including in the official magazine from The Danish Union for Psychologists (Dansk Psykologforening). Because of my expertise on the topic, I have been invited to consult in the court case against the terrorist Omar Khadr, the youngest prisoner on Guantanamo.
My conclusion from working with criminal and fundamentalist Muslims is, that psychotherapy is the least useful – if not a complete waste of tax payers money – method to stop Muslim violence. Such high-profile programmes may even contribute to the problems, since they can lure both decission makers and the public into thinking that something effective is being done about the problems, while in fact the problem with Islamic inspired violence grows every day. It also takes focus away from the real problem: Islam. Islamic terorrism is not the result of a mental illness. It is the result of people following the Quran and the example of Muhammed. If you want to go to the source of Islamic terrorism, it is not in the terrorists childhood, it is in their religion.
The fact that there has not been published any credible reports about success with therapy against terrorism speaks for itself.
Here is, what a psychologist is up against, when treating jihadis:
1) Many violent Muslims have already been at psychologists, either during school or in prisons. It obviously did not work.
2) If a jihadi leaves his terrorist carreer, he will be seen as a hypocrite by his fellow fundamentalist friends. Leaving the jihadi path means that he will lose his friends and have to leave a way of life what has given him the feeling of strength, identity, belonging, self-confidence, invincibility, status and the promise of 72 virgins.
3) One thing is to not actively joining the jihadi path. Another is to having joined it and then leavning it. Because the latter means that you are discarding a central pillar in Islam, something that is an obligation to all Muslims. As with so many other things in Islam, the penalty is death.
4) To be receptive to therapy, one has to want it. Nobody believes in forced psychotherapy, and considering the above mentioned hindances, it is difficult to imagine that a significant amount of jihadis will take such an offer voluntarily.
There are many unwanted psychological states that can not be treated with therapy. One is psychopathy. I believe, out of logical reasons and as an experienced psychologist within the field of criminal Muslims, that treating jihadis with therapy is another. Therapy for jihadis is, at most, a way for politicians to try and calm the public by signaling that “something is being done about the problems”.
If one wants to work with dangerous mental states, I would advise trying medicine. Medicine is already used in treating sexual offenders and some types of violent aggression. How motivated would an Islamic State fighter be if he was medicated in a way that made his aggression and sexual lust disappear? Try that, either spread like powder from an airplane over Raqqa or with individuals. Why not?