The Nonverbal Message of Jihadis

by NANCY HARTEVELT KOBRIN, PHD, JOAN JUTTA LACHKAR, PHD July 1, 2011
 
This article addresses how early "traumatic" childhood development leads to aggression, terrorism and destruction which is expressed by jihadi nonverbal violent communication. Many analysts, sociologists, psychohistorians have questioned and have been baffled by how entire nations can develop such hatred and sadism toward others. Many have repeatedly discussed early childhood abuse and trauma in the Muslim world, but do not specifically address how this affects women, especially the little girl who grows up to be a mother -- mainly the hatred and envy toward women and thus the need to destroy her. This means that they are terrified of her -- that is their terror, which in turn is projected into us under the guise of political terrorism.
 
This kind of negative maternal bonding does not allow the woman freedom instead it leads to suffocation, control and domination. While this might sound far-fetched to some, the unconscious infantile thinking and the terrors of the jihadi go something like this: "I now have control of mommy, her breasts, her vagina and her mind. She will do what I want her to do!”
 
Our last piece, “Driving Miss Daisy Saudi Style” stirred up a lot of these issues relating to the human rights of women and hence the impetus for writing this article. We both have written extensively on the role of women in the Muslim world, mainly man's relationship with the mother as a maternal object and how this reflects on negative maternal attachments as the male child internalizes the devalued abused mother as a self perception, especially as victim. 
 
Kobrin in her Banality of Suicide Terrorism, is the first to link the murderous behavior to the devalued female in Arab Muslim shame-honor culture. She also explains how this dynamic spreads through radicalization into pockets of western culture where the female has also been devalued in a patriarchal family attracting non-Arab Muslims to convert to Islam again under the guise of jihad, joining up to live out their violent fantasies in real time.
 
If a regime were to be selected as the most horrific one for human rights violations, it would be Saudi Arabia.  Their rulers prohibit freedom of speech, freedom of religion/press, beheadings, stoning, amputation, threats, kangaroo courts and other barbaric methods to keep women "in check," let alone drive a car. We must not forget the continuation of the burka even in scorching desert heat and temperatures. The Saudis set the golden standard for hating their mothers and all other females even though they may try to claim otherwise, their aberrant nonverbal behavior towards females speaks volumes.
 
We cannot help thinking how these violent jihadis coming out of Saudi Arabia can be likened to the song from West Side Story, "Dear Officer Krupke" in which one of the gang members sings:
 
“Gee, Officer Krupke, we're very upset; 
We never had the love that ev'ry child oughta get. 
We ain't no delinquents, 
We're misunderstood !” 
 
 
In our culture we send violent boys or men for a psychological evaluation and treatment whenever possible. Obviously we cannot send jihadis for psychiatric treatment, but we do want to emphasize how the impairment of traumatic bonding with the devalued female is inextricably linked to childhood trauma within the collective psyche of jihadis. 
 
It is imperative to address how early traumatic childhood developmental arrest leads to relentless aggression, terrorism, sadism, and destruction. The cure is not a quick fix and will take generations to address the problem of bonding with violence if there is no democracy for women.
 
After experiencing such deprivation it is understandable how they become sadistic because they do not develop the healthy feedback of a superego or moral consciousness to guide them through life.
 
We advocate that more historians, politicians, homeland security specialists, sociologists studying terrorism and violent behavior begin to consider seeing jihadi behavior through the lenses of trauma and psychopathology tied to the rampant abuse of the female, their mothers, in order to profile, apprehend and dismantle the terrorist threat. Nonverbal behavior of the violent traumatic bonding is key.
 
We view this kind of psychopathology the jihadis exhibit as a mental illness. This does not mean that the jihadis can not be held accountable for their actions. In fact, all criminal acts can be viewed through a psychopathology lens. Lachkar in How to Talk to a Borderline expands this even further how violence, rape and murder borders on the edge of psychosis. 
 
Sander Breiner, M.D., a learned psychoanalyst who has much knowledge and experience concerning Arab Muslim culture and who is author of Slaughter of the Innocents: Child Abuse through the Ages and Today, 1990 wrote the following to us after our “Driving Miss Daisy” piece. We wanted to share his thoughts with you -- our readers:
 
“In the first two years of life the brain quadruples in size (also [there are] many chemical changes). Every child's identity, self-image, self-concept, imago, etc. etc.  is established (though not consciously remembered), and neurologically imprinted. That child's identity is based on identification with its primary caretaker in those crucial two years (mother). No matter how hard she tries, how she feels about herself is non-verbally communicated to the child [our emphasis added] whereby he identified with her and shapes its own self-image. No wonder children as adults will have a hurt, damaged, impaired self-image regardless of their sex. The self-hatred is commonly projected and does affect one’s self image and even worse gets passed on generation to generation. Changes in the household of the nuclear family that is supportive of mother can make a change. This will take at least two generations to be generally successful (40 years).”
 
Part of the change that is now afoot in the Arab world has to do with changing the role of women. The attitude and role women play in the Middle East have had an enormous impact on family dynamics. Given this, it is also a diverse yet shame-honor culture where many of these issues are hidden as it is too excruciatingly painful to discuss these kinds of issues in public. 
 
To conclude, this is where the brilliance of Leonard Bernstien and the jihadis meet. The song “Dear Officer Krupke” is about gang violence which is also relevant to jihadi violence and dramatically draws our attention to the severe problem of the maltreatment of women in the Arab Muslim world. The phenomenon of jihadism is spreading throughout the world and radicalization in our view is rooted in the abuse of the female. We go so far as to say that in all cultures and pockets of patriarchal families where the female is prone to be abused, there will always remain the risk of producing violent jihadis but Saudi Arabia wins the prize. So our hats off to you ladies of Arabia (or should we say burkas) for the “drive” to drive and there is no stopping now!!
 
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributor Dr. Nancy Kobrin, a psychoanalyst with a Ph.D. in romance and semitic languages, specializes in Aljamía and Old Spanish in Arabic script. She is an expert on the Minnesota Somali diaspora and a graduate of the Human Terrain System program at Leavenworth Kansas. Her new book is The Banality of Suicide Terrorism: The Naked Truth About the Psychology of Islamic Suicide Bombing. 
 
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributor Dr. Joanie Jutta Lachkar is a licensed Marriage and Family therapist in private practice in Brentwood and Tarzana, California, who teaches psychoanalysis and is the author of The Narcissistic/Borderline Couple: A Psychoanalytic Perspective on Marital Treatment (1992, The Many Faces of Abuse: Treating the Emotional Abuse of High -Functioning Women (1998), The V-Spot, How to Talk to a Narcissist, How to Talk to a Borderline and a recent  paper, “The Psychopathology of Terrorism”  presented at the Rand Corporation and  the International Psychohistorical Association. She is also an affiliate member for the New Center for Psychoanalysis.
 

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