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Suicide missions - Psychology and Biology



On C-Span, Brian Lamb hosted an excellent panel of three discussing the impact of September 11 on the US. Discussing the psychological and biological bases of suicide missions, the well-known Stanford historian David Kennedy surmised that it is not a very common phenomenon. This is an American viewpoint. A powerful country does not hate a weaker one; it is the other way around. The intensity of hatred in the world is real. In Hitler's day, the French hated "les boches". The Greeks hate the Turks. The hatred of the Arab world for Israel and its US backer is intense. If they realize that they are powerless, they may not resort to arms, but rather to terrorism, even suicidal, especially as they believe that their death opens the doors of paradise. The Christian martyrs believed that they would join the Holy Army of Martyrs in Heaven, as the Te Deum puts it. When the gladiators said to Caesar "Morituri te salutant", those who are about to die salute you", they presumably thought their death would be glorious. Modern soldiers have been known to say that they were looking forward to a glorious death in battle. I do not know what the Japanese kamikase thought their post mortem life would be. Is there a book on this subject?

Ronald Hilton - 11/24/01


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