Terror, Terrorist, and Terrorism
Three very powerful words that conjure up horrific images of people jumping from the Twin Towers on 9-11, military troops being blown up by IED’s, bombs going off in subways stations and buses through Europe and the Middle East, videotaped beheadings … who does this and why? More importantly, should we care? We should care. To what extent should people invest their emotional self into these horrible acts? Let us try to understand what is terror, terrorist, and terrorism.
Terror is fear and fear is an emotional response to stimuli that jolted the system unfavorably. Persistent fear leads to phobias. A phobia is “excessive fears of specific things or situations” (Wade & Tavris, 2008). Have you ever heard a person say they fear something? I fear I will not get the last week of May off for vacation, I fear that if I do not take an aspirin every day I may have a heart attack … would you consider statements like this to indicate fear or do people use the word improperly most of the time? Since terror creates fear and fear is caused by terror, one can assume that terror = fear.
What is a terrorist? By definition, the word is a noun, describing “a person who performs a certain action” (Dictionary). The action the terrorist performs is to create fear or terror in the minds of others. Who are terrorists? Taken literally, a terrorist can be anyone that creates fear or terror in one or more people. Is a schoolyard bully a terrorist if he or she creates fear in other kids? What about the cyber bullies that torment their victims with slander and questionable photos, posting them on the Internet for friends and family to see? Moreover, tarnishing a person’s reputation, causing the victim to withdraw from society or become suicidal. A terrorist can be a single person, a group, or a government that participates in creating terror in the minds of people. Therefore, if a terrorist creates terror and people fear terror, then people also fear terrorists. This method of reasoning, called deductive reasoning, simply means that two truths equal a true conclusion (Wade & Tavris, 2008).
What is terrorism? By adding the suffix –ism to the word terror, the meaning changes to an action, process, or result of the root word. Therefore, terrorism is the action, process, and result of terror or fear. If terrorism is the result of terror and terror creates fear, it could be argued that terrorism could be classified as a phobia. What is a phobia? As previously mentioned, a phobia is “excessive fears of specific things or situations” (Wade & Tavris, 2008). Sigmund Freud believed that a phobia was “an excessive or incapacitating fear” (Friedman & Schustack, 2012), that led to anxiety disorders. Therefore, it could be argued that in Freud’s theory if terrorism is classified as a phobia, those who have the phobia of terrorism also have an anxiety disorder resulting from the phobia.
What do you fear? Recently, the U.S. government has been debating over the issue of gun control, creating legislation that would remove the possibility of those with mental disorders from owning firearms. How do you think the government will be able to determine if someone has a mental disorder and what exactly qualifies as a mental disorder? These are questions American's should be asking themselves before laws are passed. Will every person wanting to purchase a firearm have to undergo a psychological evaluation? Maybe. Some people may think that is a great idea, however, what if a government appointed psychologist determines YOU have a mental disorder.
You may be saying to yourself that you do not have a mental disorder, or do you? Do you fear terrorism? If so, you may have an anxiety disorder that is classified as a mental disorder. Do you have Acrophobia- Fear of heights, Aichmophobia- Fear of needles or pointed objects, Arsonphobia- Fear of fire, Aviophobia or Aviatophobia- Fear of flying, Cancerophobia or Carcinophobia- Fear of cancer, Gamophobia- Fear of marriage, or any of the hundreds of other phobias used by psychologists and psychiatrists to label something people fear (PhobiaList.com)? If you do, then perhaps you may be disqualified from purchasing a firearm in the U.S. Remember that once a law is passed, it is nearly impossible to reverse it, therefore think about what your government is trying to persuade you into thinking. In fact, one could say that the U.S. government is a terrorist by definition, one who performs a certain action to create fear. Has the U.S. government created a fear of firearms among people? Has the U.S. government created fear of terrorism among people?
A final thought to consider, if a terrorist cannot create fear in people by his or her actions, then terrorism will not exist. Think about it.
“When even one American - who has done nothing wrong - is forced by fear to shut his mind and close his mouth - then all Americans are in peril.”
- Harry S. Truman